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
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
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
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
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.