Saturday, 30 August 2014

Atyrau: My New Home!

Atyrau is a small city located NEAR (not on as I originally thought) to the Caspian Sea and has the Ural River running through it! So yes! You can visit both Europe and Asia in a matter of seconds, which is pretty cool. Atyrau is hot hot hot in the summer – not as hot as Kuwait but still 40 + - and coldish in the winter.

The first day after my arrival I was pretty disappointed. I expected there to be more greenery, and not look so brown. Moving away from Kuwait I was looking forward to living around more greenery.  I quickly realized that I have traded one desert landscape for another, with the added disadvantage of having a cold winter. Great...

After venturing out and exploring my little town a little more, I am starting to see that it has more to offer than I initially thought. The returning staff at my school have been absolutely wonderful in showing us around.

Two things I have learned since my arrival one week ago…

1. The whole city seems to revolove around the river. Flowergirl and I were out for a walk yesterday, and I noticed that tons of people hang out along the river, walking, bicycle riding, or fishing! It was wonderful to see.

2.  There are hidden treasures all around the city, but in most cases there is not a lot of information to be found on them, so they require an adventurous spirit.

Thankfully, I have found an adventuring partner who has been keen to explore the city with me and been very helpful in changing my mind about this new home.

See my next post about some of my adventures with my new friend, Flowergirl. 

The River at Sunset! Walking from Asia to Europe

Large Intersection leading towards the river. Beatiful flowers!

The Main Square - Celebrations for Constitutional Day
The Mosque

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Astana: Shiny and New!

This is a few days late, but here are some first impressions of Astana, Kazakhstan

Well I made it! As did all of my bags, which is more than I can say about some of the others that have arrived in the country.

All the new staff have come together in the Capital of Astana to partake in an induction session to the school program. So, before we take off for our respective home cities, we have a few days to wander about.

Things that I have noticed about the Capital.

1. Astana is shiny and new. The capital was moved to Astana from Almaty in 1997. As such, there are many new buildings that have gone up because there was a lack of government, social and economic buildings in the city.

2. Astana has an eclectic vibe in their architecture. The architects were given free licence to design what they wanted with no sense of congruence. In Astana you will find, the most beautiful mosque I have ever seen, a Parthenon that serves as the national Opera, a leaning Tipi-type thing, a building modeled after the Atlantis hotel, and an Arc de Triumph. There are some amazing buildings, and it gives Astana a unique feel. I think that it is quite spectacular.

3. The center of town is very small. Everything in the center is very close together, and easy to find which makes it feel very low key. I found this quite enjoyable.

The capital lacks the overt hustle and bustle of other capitals of the world, but maintains a great sense of propriety and pride in their new city. I have really enjoyed my time here, but it was only a few days. Alas, we are off to our home-cities tonight - fist impressions to come soon!

Here are some photos of the buildings mentioned: