Monday, March 21, 2016


We finally headed south as a family for the long weekend over Women's Day. Although Terry and I had both gotten to Almaty for work, nobody had gotten any leisure time there and the kids had never been.  We got to the hotel, checked in, and headed out for lunch. Zoltan pitched a fit which earned him a nap while Alex and I enjoyed the warm weather and playground only a few minutes' walk from the hotel. When she got bored I decided to check out the Ramstore (everything is better in Almaty). We soon learned one similarity between the former and current capital - some looong blocks that make destinations seem only a few minutes away on a map, but are actually a kilometer or more. We spent shockingly little time in the store, and had many rest stops on the way home. Recognizing Alex was likely exhausted from the trek, we decided to take advantage of the hotel pool - it was one of the main reasons we'd chosen the hotel. By the time we'd gotten showered and changed it was dinner time, then we were all pooped out from the early day and all the activity - even though we hadn't seen any of the sights yet.

The next morning we woke raring to go.  We walked to the cable car to Kok-Tobe. Unbeknownst to us, its repairs had only been completed the week before and it had only just re-opened. The cable car ride was a blast, as we knew it would be.  The brass Beatles statues up on the top, the majestic mountains as backdrop, and the unfortunate view of smog climbing up the mountain were all noteworthy.  We stopped for a snack, gave the kids some time on the amusement rides, and checked out the very sad small zoo (there were domesticated animals and birds who seemed to be doing just fine but a few of the traditionally wild animals really seemed to want to go home). Lunch at cafe Nedelka, which had been recommended to us, was nice although Terry kept arguing to stop at the "real American diner" next door instead - they had free coffee all day (presumably they meant refills) so it must have been legit. We then hopped a taxi to what we thought was the Mega that housed a science museum (like in St Petersburg, I assume) but it was the wrong Mega and by then we were all tired and grumpy and it was time to go back for a rest.  Dinner was at VietCafe and very tasty - definitely hit all the right spots!

When we got back to the hotel we noticed Alex was warm. I chalked it up to being run all around all day and made everyone promise to sleep as late as possible the next day.

The next morning she was clearly ill.  I was grateful that we always travel with children's Motrin (They can now manage the chewable kind! This is huge!) Zoltan was perfectly healthy though, and bouncing off the walls, so I took him to the little playground at the hotel.  Then the bigger playground he missed the first day when he was napping.  Then the hotel pool.  Lunch, a short nap in an effort to keep everyone else healthy, then it was time to head toward the airport (or so we thought).  The traffic Terry and I were used to was non-existent (it was a holiday not a work day) and there was no line anywhere at the airport. We left the hotel a solid hour, hour and a half earlier than needed. Hurrah for the tablets!

The trip home was relatively noneventful. The next day Alex and I went to the embassy doc and learned she had strep throat. That was way less fun, and meant our Women's Day was spent in the apartment reading, watching TV and playing games. Inside. Not bad, but not what we had planned.

* note: if Terry ever looks at the photos we took there he may post a few. Check back someday!

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