Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hello Alma-Ata

We arrived in Almaty Sunday evening after a brief delay leaving Astana and an uneventful flight. The weather leaving Astana was foggy but very shortly after takeoff we were above the cloud deck revealing the last of a blue sky and beautiful sunset out our window.

Kathryn was a great traveler and slept most of the way on the flight and about half the way on the four hour car ride from Koksheatu to Astana. It seems to get colder as we went further south to Astana getting into the vast openness of the steppes. There is still snow on the ground and trees that makes you cold just looking at the scenery.

Almaty was the capital of Kazakhstan before they moved it to Astana in 1997. It is a large city that could be compared, on a smaller scale, to New York or Chicago. Lots of new construction going on with their expanding economy and as they are prepare for the Winter Asian Games in 2011 as well as make their bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2014. Monday we had an appointment with the sisters to go over our schedule for the three days and sign some final paperwork. Kathryn had her medical exam as well at the international S.O.S clinic. Nice doctor from South Africa working there and he was thorough with her medical information and answered any question we had. Kathryn did wonderfully and we were finished in about 30 minutes. Tuesday is a free day for us as Kathryn’s passport needs to be registered in Astana so we are heading to the mountains for some sightseeing and lunch. Wednesday I will stop by the Lufthansa office to purchase Kathryn’s ticket and hopefully get us a spot in the bulkhead row before heading off to the American Embassy for some final immigration paperwork.

Today, Tuesday, our driver Vitali took us to the mountains here. The Tien Shen range is about a 45 minute drive from the city and you are quickly in colder weather. The Tien Shen range runs from Kyrgyzstan in the south through Kazakhstan, China, to Tibet in the north. The mountains here host a ski resort that, too, is undergoing reconstruction as well as the skating rink which will be used for speed skating, etc. for the games. Normally we would be able to take a gondola to the top but unfortunately it was not in operation during our visit. So instead we took the opportunity to enjoy the clean air on a cloudless day with the temperature cold enough that the snow does not melt but in direct sun warm enough for us to enjoy lunch outside. Vitali ordered lunch for us which was a Russian soup that resembled vegetable beef as well as some chicken kabobs. Of course, before the soup it is Russian tradition to have a little vodka prior to eating. Who are we to break tradition. It was an excellent lunch at the restaurant at the base of the slopes overlooking the mountain peaks with a blue sky backdrop. Please enjoy some of the sights in the pictures below.

Medeo Ice Arena near Almaty that will be used for the 2011 Asian Games

The view from our lunch table

1 comment:

Darryl and Karen said...

Karie and Dave,

You are now on your way home, and it is with so much anticipation that we are waiting to see you again and meet little Kathryn. This has been such an incredible journey for you and we have been greatly blessed to be a small part of it all. This is the first blog we've ever followed (before this we didn't even know what a blog was!) and I can't imagine now not being able to have followed along with you on this wonderful adventure. Technology is truly amazing!
You have been in our thoughts and prayers all along and we just look forward to being with you again soon. We treasure your friendship and look forward to watching Kathryn grow up along side her big brothers.

With much love,
The Eidmans