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Shakhrisabze


September 15, 2016: One reason I had chosen the MIR tour was because it included a day trip to Shakhrisabze, Timur’s birthplace. It was a decision I was to regret, for several reasons. Shakhrisabze was just 50 miles from Samarkand, provided one drove the straight route through the mountains. But, as we had found on the way to the Fergana Valley, coaches were no longer allowed to drive those roads. Instead of using cars this time, we detoured around the mountains. Three and a half hours to get there: three and a half hours to return. Not only was this a long day on the coach, through not exactly awe inspiring country, it meant we arrived in the middle of the day. The light was terrible for photographs, and the temperatures were in the high 90s.

Then, the sights just didn’t live up to their billing. No doubt Timur’s White Palace was magnificent in its day, but there was very little of it left – just the admittedly tall twin entrance towers. A lot of landscaping was underway in the vicinity of the towers, but meanwhile the only shade was in the shadows of the towers themselves. After the towers we did visit the Kok-Gumboz mosque, but by that time all I wanted was some relief from the heat.



Based on my photographs, we stopped on the way to visit a carpet weaving operation, aka shopping op. We also ate a heavy lunch before heading home. This was the day four of us saw the Registan illuminated on the way to one of our few independent meals. We all enjoyed the Cafe Labig’or, where we dined on the upper terrace, working our way through the entirety of the brief menu: lamb kebabs, beef kebabs, “fried” chicken, tomato salad and beer. Part way through the meal, a group of locals took over the next table, and one young woman, who had spent time in the US, came over to talk to us. The evening was a major improvement over the day.


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