We arrive late to the Asia Hotel, our lodging for the next two nights. Traffic and narrow surface roads are challenging, or as our guide says: “Samarqand is very special for the traffic.” Our hotel is located in historic Old Town and just a few minutes’ walk from the Registan. My kind of place. It is International Tourism Day and we are welcomed with refreshments, all non-alcoholic.
Tashkent is a city of very modern buildings interspersed with some ugly Soviet relics, green manicured parks, fountains, and a very organized traffic system. Except for closing down the streets and having armed guards every 100 feet, severe restrictions as to where you can take a picture without being shot, all in the “protection” of their president, Tashkent is really a beautiful walking city. They even have an artsy metro in the vein of the famous Soviet metro.
Cameras, and heavily armed guards, are everywhere. So is the flashy Hyatt Regency, a high rise Ramada Inn though our guide says “remodeled by Ramada but smells like Soviets,” trendy shopping like Armani and Apple, kiosks to buy a chizburger or Gamburger, and one of the best traffic systems I’ve experienced. Every light is timed and pedestrians obey them.