Day 31. Tuesday, August 29. Rest day – Khiva.
Resting today in Khiva was a perfect way to celebrate the midpoint in our 62-day journey from Almaty to Istanbul. Wandering around the town in the morning, writing in the afternoon and helping Terry, our oldest rider, celebrate his 76th birthday in the evening made for a delightful day.
I had just two vague goals for my city ramble – climb a tall minaret to get a better sense of the layout of the walled city which held out against conquerors, including Russians, longer than many; and visit the old caravanserai. That’s such an evocative word for me, perhaps reaching right back to some long-forgotten childhood story about Silk Roads hospitality and intrigue.
Climbing to the top of the Islam Khodja minaret was a good bit of training for our upcoming hills in Georgia. Every one of the 118 steps was a high rise. I paused often on the way up. When I topped out, the panoramic view justified the effort.
Within the extensive city walls lie two parts of the city – the grand centre; and the residential area around it. No vehicles are allowed in the first; and very few in the other, in spite of a fair-sized population.
Back down on the ground I wandered around admiring carpet makers and other artisans at work, lots of modern sculptures and the well-cared-for old buildings.
Following the signs to the caravanserai, I was rewarded by a bigger, more beautiful building than I’d anticipated – plus within it a new museum celebrating people and place. I’ll let some photos tell the story.
I enjoyed an afternoon in my cool hotel room writing and choosing photos to bring this blog up to date. Then it was off to Terry’s birthday dinner. It was also his farewell because he was heading home to Australia after completing, as planned, the first half of the trip. He and I are two of five riders over 70. With his departure, I rise to the second oldest – out-done only by Eero from Finland.