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Through the Tunnel of Death

Central Asia - Sugd

sunny 21 °C
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After many days in the flat desert of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, we were now entering the Tian Shan covering Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Today consisted of a drive through the mountains from the capital to Khujand, the second city, located in the Fergana Valley.

Disabled Donkey

Disabled Donkey

We began the day by tucking into breakfast in the Sheraton - which priced at $45 meant it worked out at $15 a yoghurt! before we headed to the Museum of Antiquities. The museum wasn't the best in the world, but did have a fair amount to see, including a disabled looking donkey's head and a large Buddha located on the first floor.

Buddha

Buddha

After having another drive through the city, missing out on the souvenir shop which was closed, we then left the Monday city mid on Monday morning, and headed north through some beautiful mountains.

Entering the Tian Shan

Entering the Tian Shan


Outside the Tunnel

Outside the Tunnel

The further we got, the more beautiful they were and eventually we reached the day's unique attraction - the Tunnel of Death. Stopping outside the tunnel for views over the scenic snow capped mountains, we found a local film crew. Before we knew it, our tour guide James was being interviewed, and we were invited to be filmed!

Film Crew

Film Crew


Entering the Tunnel

Entering the Tunnel

After an interesting experience we then made our way through the Anzob Tunnel. It was originally built as a strategic link between Tajikistan's two biggest cities, that had previously meant in the long winter months the only land route was via Uzbekistan, adding hours to the journey. However the Iranians only bored the tunnel itself leaving the cash strapped Tajiks to furnish it. Due to the importance of the tunnel, it was used without furnishing until 2014 - which despite being 5km included no ventilation or lighting.

Inside the Tunnel

Inside the Tunnel

Even today, the tunnel is still not up to Western standards - with the road being dusty, dark, bumpy and full of stopped cars and others trying to overtake. What with this being a single carriageway road, with just enough space for once car each way, this was a pretty terrifying experience!

Making it to the other side alive, we then started to descend the mountains and stopped off just outside Takfon for lunch in a stilt built restaurant on the riverside at the bottom of a valley.

Valley

Valley

After refreshing ourselves, we then continued northwards and eventually made it into Khujand just after sunset. Our hotel here was located just outside of the city centre, but consisted of just enough rooms for the 16 of us on the trip, each with its own kitchen, lounge as well as a massage shower.

Living Room Luxury

Living Room Luxury

After dinner we then settled down for the night and our last in Tajikistan.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountain valley tunnel centralasia Comments (0)

Costa Dubrovnik

#BalkanBants - Dubrovnik

sunny 32 °C
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Arriving in Dubrovnik in the evening was a bit of a culture shock. After travelling through standard cities we had suddenly arrived in a tourist hotspot. As we got on the bus into the old city, the first people we saw were drunken, sunburnt Brits.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

After a busy few days through Bosnia it was quite a relief to be spending two whole days in Dubrovnik giving us chance to get settled, have a lie in, and do a bit of washing, and luckily for us we were staying the Old City itself, meaning we were super close to all the attractions, and were able to pop back during the day to recover from the heat - and despite being crazily busier on the main street, the side streets were quiet enough for us not to be disturbed, and achieve a good old rest.

On the Stradun

On the Stradun

On the first day we explored the Old City, walking along the Stradun, and around the Harbour, before having our beach afternoon taking a dip in the sea overlooking the Old City. Unfortunately so hot was the weather that after just a little bit of time I was absolutely exhausted and needed to go back for an afternoon nap.

Dubrovnik Beach

Dubrovnik Beach


Old City from Mt. Srđ

Old City from Mt. Srđ

After recovering we ventured down to the aquarium before eating and then going up Mt. Srđ for sunset, to witness the great views of the city in both day and night.

Old City by night

Old City by night

Coming back down and taking a walk around the city lit up at night, we headed back to the apartment for the night, and the following morning we took a walk around the city walls.

Rector's Palace

Rector's Palace

After an ice cream to cool off, we went for a walk around the Lovrijenac fortress before coming back to the harbour to take a boat tour around Lokrum island.

Lovrijenac from the boat

Lovrijenac from the boat

After an evening enjoying the sunset with a few drinks on the rocks outside the city walls, our short busy-yet-restful stop was over and the next morning we were headed just down the coast to Kotor in Montenegro for more stunning views.

Dubrovnik was very pretty however it was a bit tainted by the huge masses of tourists that meant the views were not as enjoyable as they could be. This was as near as I had come to a holiday resort in a long time and hopefully it will be the last for a while too.....

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Croatia Tagged beach history mountain city tourists balkanbants Comments (0)

Sea Gods and Fairy Poo

all seasons in one day 11 °C
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Just a few weeks after Amsterdam, I was yet again on another holiday. Not to waste a Bank Holiday weekend, it was my fifth holiday in six weeks and I was headed for the Isle of Man.

Getting to the island was not the easiest, but as it was by train and boat I was able to book at short notice and still get a cheap rate. Having researched and found that I could see everything I wanted in just 3 days, I booked and just a few weeks later was headed for the island. On Saturday morning I took the train up from Milton Keynes to Liverpool, where after two hours, I walked through the centre of the city via the Liver Building to get to the ferry port, The ferry trip to the island coincided with the birth of the new British Princess, which gave us something interesting to watch on the TV screens during this three hour long journey.

Royal Liver Building

Royal Liver Building

Eventually arriving on the island, in the very heart of the British Isles, despite neither being in the United Kingdom nor the European Union, it felt very much like home. No immigration, same signage, and unfortunately the same weather!

Beachfront Hotel

Beachfront Hotel

Unlike the last few weeks, the weather had changed and was now pretty bad, with it raining pretty much all weekend. I therefore had to plan my days according to the weather in order to make the most of it, and so after checking in at my hotel on the sea front, the first place I headed to was the Manx Museum, just a five minute walk around the corner.

Manx Cat

Manx Cat

The museum was free entry, and had a wealth of history of the island that served as a brilliant introduction. It included a video that spoke about the sights on the island, a section on the history of the Tynwald - the world's oldest continuous parliament, another area talking about the use of the island as an internment camp in the Second World War, an area about the TT races, and another featuring stuffed 'native' animals to the island - including the tailless Manx Cat and bizarrely a wallaby.

Home of the Bee Gees

Home of the Bee Gees

Heading back to my hotel, past the street where the Bee Gees grew up, I spent the rest of the evening drying off my clothes before the next day's activities. Despite not being a particularly long day, I had woken up before Kate Middleton had even gone to hospital, and yet I was still awake after she had popped the Princess out, shown her to the world and gone home! I was starting to feel pretty unproductive!

Full Manx Breakfast

Full Manx Breakfast

Waking up the following day and having a filling 'Full Manx Breakfast' I headed off to Peel, on the other side of the island where there is a pretty castle, and a beach. Hanging about for just half an hour or so, I got back on the bus to Douglas, which went past Tynwald Hill, where the outside parliament is held once a year, along part of the TT race route.

Peel

Peel

Arriving back in the capital I boarded the bus to Laxey, where the weather had finally brightened up.

Laxey Wheel

Laxey Wheel

Laxey is the location of the Lady Isabella Wheel, one of the true iconic sights of the island, which for a small fee can be visited up close, as well as climbed on. Towards the back of the wheel is the old mining areas, and forests where fairies are said to live.

Laxey Wheel

Laxey Wheel


Mountain Railway

Mountain Railway

Heading back into Laxey village, I then boarded the Snaefell Mountain Railway, which took me to the top of the tallest mountain on the island, which on a clear day gives views of the four British nations, as well as the sea, where the sea god Manannan is said to live.

View from Snaefell towards Ireland

View from Snaefell towards Ireland

However this wasn't such a great day, and between the clouds some views could be seen, before even my hand disappeared before my eyes!

Douglas

Douglas

Heading back down and taking the railway back along the coast to Douglas I ended my final full day with just the capital left to see. Waking up to sunshine at last, after checking out of my hotel, I took a stroll up the promenade, before walking around past the Tynwald building and to the hill to the south of the town where there are some magnificent views over the capital and the Manx cliffs.

Manx Coast

Manx Coast


Douglas Bay

Douglas Bay

Before boarding my ferry home, I decided to buy a paper, but found some were not in stock, because the printing was late and therefore missed the boat - Island Issues!

Boarding my ferry back to Liverpool, I took a look around the gift shop, where there was a small selection of souvenirs for sale, including Fairy Poo - chocolate raisins. Along with printing their own money, and the fact the island is neither in the UK nor the EU despite being in the very centre of it all, I had finally realised just how bizarre this place was!

Just as the ferry out had coincided with the birth of the new British Princess, the return came at the announcement of her name. After another three hours of rolling news about this, I eventually arrived back in Liverpool, where I took a little detour to the Albert Docks, before making my way back to the station to complete the rest of my journey home.

Albert Docks

Albert Docks

The trip, albeit short was pretty busy and I saw a lot. The island is bizarre - sea gods, tailless cats, fairy poo, three legs, printing their own money, mobile roaming - but this all adds to its character and identity. Despite the weather not being great, I would highly recommend a visit to the island.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Isle of Man Tagged mountain train city island liverpool Comments (0)

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