My Last Day in Bishkek

Bishkek Travel Blog

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St Vladimir's Russian Orthodox Cathedral
And so my last full day in Bishkek finally arrived. I was curious to see an Orthodox church, and so we took a marshrutka to St Vladimir's Russian Orthodox Cathedral, a very attractive building in blue and white. A service was in progress, so we went in and stayed for about half an hour. It was all very unfamiliar: there were no seats or pews, and the sparse congregation - even old and crippled women leaning on sticks - just stood in the large open nave throughout. Irina did not feel very comfortable because although she had her head covered she was still the subject of disapproval from the old women, who considered her appearance to be insufficiently reverent; and so we left before the service ended.
My last meal in Bishkek

On our way home we saw an interesting example of Soviet nostalgia - a street's new name had been painted out, and the old name of Sovetskya daubed in its place. As I was taking a picture of this, the owner of a nearby aquarium shop came out to enquire what we were doing - Bishkek is sufficiently off the beaten track for visitors wielding a camera to be the subject of occasional curiosity, if not suspicion. When Irina explained, the shop-owner, mollified, told us that the graffiti was the work of a passing band of Hare-Krishna devotees, although what they were doing hankering after the Soviet era remained a mystery.

The evening brought my final meal in Bishkek; fortunately the weather was good and we were able to eat outside. The dinner was a simple one - Turkish plov, home-made tomato juice, vegetables, cheese, cold meat, winter preserves and home-made wine.
Al-fresco dining in the garden of Irina's parents
I had already collected all my belongings from the apartment because I was staying over: Andrey had kindly offered to drive me to the airport at 2 am, as I had a very early flight. And so, in the small hours of the morning, I said goodbye to Irina's mother, Irina's father having returned to work in Kazakhstan a few days earlier. I had anticipated saying goodbye to Irina too, but to my surprise and pleasure she said that she would come with me to the airport.

So we set off; and about halfway there I panicked when we were waved down by police - delays, delays! But it was a standard security check because of the events a few days earlier, and we were soon on our way again. In fact, as usual, I was at the airport much much too early. I said a really rather emotional good-bye to Irina, who had been such a wonderful, fun companion for three weeks; she then waited to see me safely through check-in - where I was relieved to find that, even with my souvenirs, I had no excess baggage charges - and we waved to one another through the glass. After that there was just a long, long wait; the airport is bereft of anything to see or do, and the one small shop was not yet open.
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St Vladimirs Russian Orthodox Cat…
St Vladimir's Russian Orthodox Ca…
My last meal in Bishkek
My last meal in Bishkek
Al-fresco dining in the garden of …
Al-fresco dining in the garden of…
At the aquarium shop, with the gra…
At the aquarium shop, with the gr…
The new name of the street has bee…
The new name of the street has be…
The kitten says goodbye to my foot
The kitten says goodbye to my foot
Irina and her mother in the kitchen
Irina and her mother in the kitchen
photo by: londonstudent