Alexander Nevsky cathedral (Tashkent; Uzbekistan)
In 1966, disaster struck the Uzbek capital city of Tashkent, and a huge earthquake razed the city to its proverbial foundations, leaving its residents the unenviable task of rebuilding the city with the aid of some of its former Soviet Union citizens. Over the course of time, the task was accomplished, and in similar ways to those which characterized the re-growth of warn-torn cities the world over, Tashkent re-emerged and now stands as Central Asia's largest city, and the first in the region to be equipped with a metro system. The challenge here, after arriving from both smaller Samarkand and miniscule-by-comparison Bukhara was to see the highlights of Tashkent in the context of around a day and a half, a task made somewhat easier by use of the metro and staying at the commendable sunrise caravan stay hotel, a new-ish property not so far from the nearest tube stop.
Khazrati Imam Architectural Complex (Tashkent; Uzbekistan)
Speaking of city landmarks, if it is traditional places of interest which you gravitate towards, then look no further than the Khazrati Imam Architectural Complex, a free-to-visit enclave of architectural wonders which would nestle comfortably alongside the best of Samarkand, for all its like-minded features. A variety of buildings and sections make up the whole complex, and the contrast between this area and the more modern trappings of Tashkent are a joy to behold for all those city explorers who seek depth and diversity (count me in!) In order to enjoy a colourful and artistic-looking cathedral which rivals the best of what Kiev has to offer, then the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is your place, its gold-domed roof and sky blue upon white colours giving it a distinctly Ukrainian allure.
Dining out, Central Asian-style (rural Uzbekistan)
On a more modern level, another city landmark which is visible from afar is Tashkent tower, and a visit to the observation deck provides the kind of city view which can only be described as the best arial view you're likely to get in this sprawling conurbation. For a taste of city space, infused with parkland and a landmark thrown in for good measure, then be sure to visit Independence Square, and walking around that very area will reveal a few other noteworthy attractions which mesh into one another, the Navoi theatre and opera house flanking theatre square being one indicative example of this. On the museum front, Tashkent excels itself, and even the most indifferent of train admirers are bound to find something of aesthetic worth by paying a visit to Tashkent's railway museum, which slots into the 'glad-you-dropped-by' category.
Charvak reservoir (rural Uzbekistan)
On the retail scene, the mammoth Chorsu bazar is the place to be seen if you are seeking market goods at market prices, and the ornate domed building of a section of this bazar is a landmark in itself. Residing at the more modern end of the shopping scale are malls such as Mega Planet and Samarkand Darvoza, where prices reflect the pristine nature of the buildings the goods are sold in, but then again, the cost of living in Uzbekistan makes for a value-for-money overseas trip and then some. Further afield, escaping the clutches of urban Tashkent, an hour or so drive will bring you out into glorious rural Uzbekistan and the ski resort of Beldersay along with neighbouring Chimgan mountains are a joy to behold if you're seeking majestic, sweeping views of nature in its wildest format. Further down the road, the glorious aquamarine hue of Charvak reservoir provides for ultra-stunning views which are about as far removed from Tashkent as one can get, in the other-worldly sense of the word. Another area of the 'stans has been added to this traveller's cannon, and the multiple charms of Central Asia are keeping the proverbial dream alive - surely a positive sign for all you mad-for-it dreamaholics out there!