Tashkent, Uzbekistan was an interesting place to visit, as it was my first destination within Central Asia and is a traditionally closed-off area that is not so prepared to receive tourists. You can only get a visit visa by invitation from the government (which some travel agencies there can arrange), local currency is highly regulated, and typical tourist attractions have restricted entry. I was fortunate to have a local friend as a guide (and translator, since hardly anyone speaks English).

Tashkent has lots of history from past Islamic empires as well as some more recent Soviet history. Th traditional architecture is quite stunning (especially in mosques and some government buildings) and the museums contain some rare Islamic art. The food is also amazing! My visit in Sept. 2013 coincided with the Independence Day celebrations there, so the streets were quiet as people were off work and families gathered in public squares to watch firework displays.

An evening tour of the city’s prominent landmarks

Having a traditional dinner at the popular outdoor venue Sharshara, where people eat and dance by a raging waterfall!

Views from atop the TV tower and the ornate gardens around it

Visiting some of the beautiful domed mosques in the city, with some local scribes and craftsmen inside

Touring some of the central shopping and bazaar areas

Watching the National Day fireworks from an outdoor tea lounge known as Choyxona Makanm with some tasty local dishes as well

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