Citytrip to Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty Kazakhstan 39Here is one totally off the beaten track. Literally, because the tracks that lead to the largest city of Kazakhstan are long and virtually unknown to tourists. Cramped in the south-east corner of this immense country, at the spot where the flatlands meet the outskirts of the Tian Shan Mountains, this is not your average weekend city destination by any standards. Nevertheless, it is a city well-known to many Dutch sports enthusiasts. Usually the bell starts to ring when using the old Soviet name of the city: Alma-Ata. Alma-Ata was one of the first destinations in the world offering a high altitude speed skating rink, where European top skaters broke their early world records. Today’s tourism still mostly focuses on winter sports. The ski resorts are within easy reach of city center. Almaty lost its status as the capital of Kazakhstan to the smaller, but more central and hyper modern city of Astana in 1997. Continue reading

Baikonur blog – getting to Baikonur

A late night arrival in Baikonur

BaikonurBaikonur, 18 December 2011 – I write this blog on my first evening in Baikonur. Actually, I crossed the border checkpoint from Kazakhstan less than two hours before writing this. So far I have experienced Baikonur city as dark, remote and extremely cold. When our local guide Elena Sadykova picked us up at the Tyuratam railway station, she herself said that at -25°C even the locals consider it very cold. Continue reading