Mary Travel Blog› entry 13 of 13 › view all entries
After visiting the wonderful ruins of Merv, we headed to Mary. This Soviet-era city was built to replace ancient Merv, but is about 30 minutes away. It is the second-largest city in the country, and is much bigger and more modern than we had expected. We passed a giant train depot as we entered town, and drove on typical soviet-style wide boulevards lined with trees and non-descript buildings. But in Mary we saw the first of the nouveau Turkmen arquitecture: glass monstrocities built to resemble ancient domed Central Asian monuments.
We visited the Mary History Museum, which was actually great fun. The kids loved to wander through the exhibits and were especially fascinated with the clothing displays where dummies wore the traditional outfits.
After a quick lunch of lamb kabob, we went out to the taxi stand, which is by the train station, and headed to Ashgabad. We kept finding that the taxi fares got cheaper each day that we were in Turkmenistan, and I'm not sure that we ever found the bottom. Because the government almost gives away the gasoline, the rates are lower than anywhere I have ever seen. The six-hour drive in an airconditioned luxury car, cost us a total of $25 USD for the whole family!
In any case, if you go to Mary, don't miss the museum. It's excellent!