Monday, August 10, 2009

One more thing

We just had another calf, again. And I didn't even realize the cow was pregnant, again. This time I was out picking apricots with my sister right next to the cow. I went inside and ten minutes later I go back out there and there's a wet calf flopping around. Its hobbies include running in circles and falling on its stomach.

My dad getting the calf to drink milk for the first time.

Last part of the trip

So my family flew back home from Stockholm and I hung around with JF for a few more days. He has his own apartment that he's redone himself. We had a great time hanging out. After that, I traveled through Estonia and Latvia by myself before flying back to Kazakhstan. Very relaxing.

The walls of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Estonia is a small country and it's having trouble with the current economic crisis, but I really enjoyed it. The infrastructure was great, everyone speaks English, and the countryside is beautiful.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It's a Russian Orthodox church, but most Estonians and Latvians (if they are religious) are Lutherans.

Skyline of the old town. It's one of the nicest medieval old towns I've seen.

A park, originally built around a summer palace for Peter the Great of Russia.

The palace for Peter the Great

The Estonian island of Saaremaa has one of the coolest castles I've been to, mostly because it has a complete moat.

Street in Kuressaare, Saaremaa. Many Finns have vacation homes here. The whole place had a nice relaxed atmosphere.

When I was in Kuressaare, the Estonian Motocross tour (yes there is such a thing) just happened to have a race out there. There were bikes and quads racing around a track at the local airport. The racers were mostly Estonian, with a few Latvians and Finns also competing.



The next island I went to was tiny Kihnu, which only has a couple hundred inhabitants. It is a UNESCO world heritage site because of the unique dress, songs, and culture of the people. It's also really peaceful there.

A hedgehog in front of the place I stayed at.

I rented a bike and rode around the island for a day (it's only seven km long).

The traditional local dress. This is a picture of a picture from the museum.

The lighthouse at the end of the island.

A Latvian Open Air Museum (basically re-assembled villages) outside Riga.

The Baltics and Scandanavia with the family

Continuing the trip, we flew from Uzbekistan to Riga, Latvia. The next week encompassed Riga; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Stockholm, Sweden, where we hung out with the Swedish Wrights. Seeing our cousins was great. As was being in countries with the technological prowess to construct stairways with steps of equal height. And I got Mexican food.

The architecture in the old part of Riga is almost fairytale-like.

Amber is a big thing there.

On the Daugavas river with the old city behind us.

The Blackhead's Guildhouse in the foreground and St. Peter's Church behind it.

Copenhagen is a great city; there are many canals and waterways and it's easy to get around. If only it wasn't one of the most expensive places I've ever been.

The Church of Our Saviour, with steps on the outside. Scott and Mom and I climbed it.

The Copenhagen International Jazz Festival was going on while we were there. It was great, there were open air venues all around the city.

Copenhagen is one of the most bicycle friendly cities I've seen.

The bridge to Sweden

First enchilada in two years

In Sweden, out on an island for the day.


Uncle Bill at the grill

On a walk

Central Asia with the family

So the first part of the trip was my family coming to visit me here. We spent one week in Kazakhstan and they got to meet my host family, my students, and various other friends I have here. After that we spent a week in Uzbekistan, which has most of the historical monuments in Central Asia.

Both of my families together.

A couple of my sisters (Guzel, second from left, just got married), a cousin, and Medina, who thought Scott was a big punching bag.

In Uzbekistan at a mosque in Khiva.

The unfinished minaret is the most famous symbol of Khiva, which was an oasis settlement along the silk road.

Kalyan Mosque, Bukhara. Bukhara was a powerful emirate and deeply involved in the back and forth between the British and Russian empires in the 1800s that was called the "Great Game".

Kalyan Mosque and Minaret. Bukhara was my favorite city in Uzbekistan because of its old town with winding alleys where locals still live.

An old caravan saray en route from Bukhara to Samarkand.

At the Shah-i-Zinda in Samarkand, which is a collection of beautifully tiled mausoleums.

The Registan in Samarkand is probably Central Asia's most impressive site. It consists of three monumental madrassas. This is the Sher-Dor madrassa as seen from the minaret of one of the other ones.

At the Registan, with the Ulugbek madrassa behind.

Flat bread like this is cooked throughout Central Asia, but each region has its own variety. I especially liked the rice and bread in Samarkand (though it was good everywhere). This bread is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside (it's thicker than the kind we get in Kazakhstan) and it's cooked in a tall, walk-in oven, where it is slapped onto the wall.