Arriving in Astana

So Astana was ummm.... interesting.  We arrived at 5.30am and stumbled out into the airport to find no car from the hotel.  I talked to the helpful lady at information who then called the hotel - apparently they hadn't booked the room as they hadn't received a confirmation.  I looked puzzled at the confirmation I had clutched in my hand.  Apparently there was a conference in town and I strongly suspect that they had a better offer.  The lady at information found us another hotel and booked it for the day for the grand sum of £14.  I wasn't expecting the Hilton.

What's the best way to get there? I asked

The bus is quite easy - she said.

What was I thinking?  "It'll be an adventure" I was thinking.  Adventure plus jet lagged 10 year old who had slept not one jot on the overnight flight = what WAS I thinking!

The first problem is that the bus stop is about 20 metres from the front door of the terminal but not, however, in the direction that the sign pointed.  So it only took about 20 minutes to find it.

The bus journey itself was fine, there was a very kind conductress who was about 200 yrs old who had put immaculate make up on every day of those 200  yrs and rather than take it off, just took the time saving measure of adding another layer until eventually there was more make-up than face.  I shouldn't be rude because she very kindly pointed out the right bus-stop for our hotel and we gaily hopped off the bus.

I subsequently discovered that the hotel was about a 10 minute walk from the bus stop.  If you head in the right direction.  If however you head off in the wrong direction and ask lots of people where you are, you discover that not many people in Astana know where they are (or at least what road you're on) and not many roads have obvious road signs.

So finally I spotted a landmark and realised that we were heading in the wrong direction so we turned around and shlepped back the way we'd come.  Remarkably LB was good natured about the whole thing.  After wandering for a while and finding someone who did actually know where they were, we finally stopped a lady who looked the the name of the hotel, thought for a minute, smiled and pointed at the giant block next to us with a big sign with the hotel name on it.

We didn't actually kiss her.  I'm pretty sure we didn't, but it is all a bit hazy now.

The "hotel was actually one floor in an office block with entirely internal bedrooms and a cafeteria for the whole building.  But the room was clean and the sheets were cool and crisp and we dozed for an hour before ordering a taxi to take us around town.

The exchange rate works in our favour at the moment and it cost £4 an hour to rent a taxi with a good driver and much to LB's relief - seatbelts!  So we hired him for a couple of hours whilst I took photos and LB semi-dozed in the back.

How to describe Astana?  Watch the Hunger games - it is the Capitol.  Photos will follow...

"How do you feel?" I asked

"I feel British!" he wailed "I didn't think it would be like this"

Was this going to be the worst decision I'd had in a long while?

Pasting on a smile and with a "It will get better, you feel tired and jet-lagged", we headed back to the airport (in a taxi) and I kept my fingers crossed all the way to Ust.

 

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Phoebe Saffold | Reply 28.05.2016 22.39

Love it. Waiting for next installment. Wish I were as brave as you are.

Sue 30.05.2016 17.56

Ah Phoebe, if only I was brave! Truth be known I have been terrified of this trip both in the planning and in the actual arriving of it. Brave is for films!

Carol | Reply 28.05.2016 14.38

Brilliant stuff, Sue! You're doing an amazing thing.

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Thank you so much for sharing. Makes me want to be there. We have told Ben and Ruthie we too will make a trip back and I hope it's soon!

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Tears are flowing and laughter ensuing.

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31.05 | 00:14

We're loving following your adventures!!! In Kew at the mo with my I laws. We have explained to Harry where you are but he says he misses Daniel!! Xx

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