Day 124: See or be seen

Almaty Travel Blog

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Gorky park

Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Aselya, Bek (Kazakhstan), Nicolas (France)

Early next morning I was picked up from the Almaty II station by Aselya. She had arranged that I could stay at Bek and Nicolas' house this weekend, which would save me the money of staying at a drab and dirty hotel (or another apartment).

As I still hadn't seen much of Almaty, Aselya took me to the 'famous' Gorky park, which was near Bek and Nico's apartment. I put famous between quotation marks because while Gorky park might be a famous name, it is the park in Moscow that claims all the fame, not Gorky Park in Almaty. Gorky simply means Central and there are Gorky parks in many large former Soviet cities (I visited Gorky park in Kyiv as well).

Gorky park


The main reason for Aselya to come here is because she enjoys one of the funfair rides that can be found inside the park. It's her birthday tomorrow and apparently she does this every year, willingly admitting herself to a machine which resembles a large tumble dryer, spinning around for several minutes. I let her do this one alone. I like theme parks, but I'm not a big fan of rides that go round in circles.

Aselya suggested we'd go to the other theme park in the city, Fantasy World, which has a couple of roller coaster. But alas, once we got there we were faced with such an exorbitantly high entrance fee + a surcharge for any thrill rides such as the roller coasters, that we decided to skip it. I mean, paying the equivalent of 30 euros just to ride a roller coaster is not worth it.
I have no idea which building this is. Must be from Soviet times...
(I know, I know, I paid a similar in Stockholm, but that was a different trip).
Instead we had an extensive lunch at a Chinese restaurant opposite the park.

After a wander around town we ended up at Coffeemania, another one of those coffee places in Almaty. I love these places. Why don't we have places like these back home?
Like Coffeedelia, Coffeemania is packed throughout the day, in fact, it is one of the most popular establishments in town, serving a range of coffees and teas, as well as breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, cocktails and sheesha. Coffeemania is one of the hippest places in town and it is all about seeing and be seen.

Well, I didn't care too much about the be seen part, but the seeing was certainly pleasant. Like Ukraine, Kazakhstan is a very nice place for, erm, sightseeing.
Nicolas and me at Coffeemania
Aselya and I shared a sheesha and had a couple of drinks. We were later joined by Bek and Nicolas and before we knew it, it was was already 11 PM.

It was Saturday night and after last week's good experience with Saturday nights in Almaty I wanted to go out again. Aselya and Nicolas were up for it, but Bek, who was on a self-imposed month-long diet (no alcohol, no cigarettes, no sex) preferred to go home instead. We managed to convince him to come with us for one drink though, promising him we would not feed him anything but mineral water.

We went to a bar/club in Panfilov park, near Bek and Nicolas' apartment, where Daniyar, another friend of Aselya's who I'd met last week, was having a party with some friends. The music in the club was horrible though and since there were hardly any people here the four of us decided to check out another place.
Aselya at Coffeemania
Guns 'n Roses is tipped as one of the hottest places in Almaty for live music, so that is where we went. What an awful place! It is situated next to one of Alamaty's five star business hotels and as such it is full of Western businessmen, who in their turn, attract quite a number of prostitutes. The place is huge but it was almost deserted. There was a band playing allright, though they didn't sound particularly good. There were several skimpy-clad, professional dancers dancing on the bar, which gave the whole place a rather seedy character.

I much preferred Soho, so this is where we went instead. Once again the place was very quiet. What is going on tonight that there are hardly any people out? No idea, but at least here the music was good and the beer cold.
Tomorrow would be Aselya's birthday, so at midnight we sang “Happy Birthday” and got some more drinks in. It didn't take long after that for the four of us to end up on the dancefloor.
Despite the place being so quiet we had a wonderful time.

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Gorky park
Gorky park
Gorky park
Gorky park
I have no idea which building this…
I have no idea which building thi…
Nicolas and me at Coffeemania
Nicolas and me at Coffeemania
Aselya at Coffeemania
Aselya at Coffeemania
Almaty
photo by: Alfiya