“Well, I have gone to Kazakhstan!” or how Astana has forced to sound this phrase in a new way

How not to be disappointed in long days off? To go to look how people live in other cities. Hoteliers note that such option of rest was estimated at last by residents of Russia: demand for placement grows during days off and holidays. What to do if you have already been to the most interesting cities of the country? One of the options is to pay attention to the neighboring countries. Our author Olesya Vildanova has done it – she has gone to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.       

There are such places in the world, coming back from which, with gloss in eyes you answer each interested: “I didn’t expect!” And already in advance you draw the plan of the next trip in the head, because there is a wish to capture slightly more, than it has turned out to see.

In due time it was Caucasus Mineral Water region which I revisited three times. Now I have visited the capital of Kazakhstan – Astana. Imagine the city which wasn’t 20 years ago yet. In the middle of the Kazakh steppes on the left river bank Esil the regional center, the city of Akmola settled down. After the decision to transfer the capital of Kazakhstan into Akmola the city was renamed. And now Astana (in translation from Kazakh – “capital”) has begun to grow on the right bank of the river.

For such short term (especially by the standards of the CIS countries) the city became not only the political and economic center of the country, but also an attraction point for tourists from around the world.

The charm of Astana consists in mass building by the master plan developed by the world famous Japanese architect Kisyo Kurokawa. He considered the urban environment as the live organism coexisting in harmony with the nature. As a result the city combining modern architecture and Asian color impresses everyone.

What has impressed me?

– Lack of pointed building in the center. Did you notice that in historical parts of the cities sometimes new buildings absolutely have out of place grown? When you walk across Astana, there is no such impression. Everything is on the places. After all at first there was a plan, and then construction.

– Scale and scope. Central city streets are wide. Between buildings there is enough place too. And all numerous sights of Astana can be made out from far away.

– Residential areas are the decoration of the city, and not vice versa. Under construction and already populated apartment houses on the left bank of Astana harmoniously settle down near sights. If you are a perfectionist, then it is precisely pleasant to you.

– Harmonious communication of civilization and past. Take an old legend and tell it on a modern harmony. Today for this purpose there are much more tools, is it true?

– It is more, than “there is enough to look at”. Usually the city with one million inhabitants can be bypassed in a day. The usual way is to visit the most popular entertaining institution in the evening, and to order a dessert at the most picturesque restaurant. The plan is implemented. But two days were not enough for me for Astana.

How to choose the route across Astana?

Astana knows about torments of the choice of tourists therefore they suggest using the official guide on the city. On the website welcometoastana.kz there are ready routes for 24 and 48 hours. The chosen route can be added with other sights from the general list. You can find answer to your questions in information booths with the inscription “Welcome to Astana”. They are at stations, in the airport and in the largest shopping centers. In the same place it is possible to get CityPASS – a set for tourists with the sim card and a smart card granting the right for free visit of tourist city facilities and movement by double-deck excursion Red Bus. 

My ideal excursion

To tell “Wow!” to touch culture, to try national dishes is “my” travel. And organizers of a trip from “Astana Convention Bureau” have offered such a route. 

Museum of the future

In 2017 in Astana the largest international exhibition “Expo-2017” took place under the slogan “Energy of the Future”. “The museum of the future” became heritage of this exhibition. It settles down in the huge eight-story glass sphere “Nur Alem”. The introduction with the museum begins with interactive acquaintance to Kazakhstan. Then energy zones follow: creative and kinetic, energy of space, sun, biomass, winds and waters. Perhaps, exactly here the child will want to become a scientist, and the adult will return to the childhood for a couple of hours.

See how a wonderful bird Samruk battles against a dragon, make a trip together with a ray of sunlight, walk across the Moon, dance with the robot, walk on the glass bridge at the height of 100 meters, feel force of a gale and open hundreds of the new facts for yourself. The museum of the future will hardly leave you indifferent!

“Qazan”  restaurant

The restaurant of the ethnic cuisine “Qazan” works at the territory of “Expo-2017” and serves beshbarmak, baursak and koumiss.  It is impossible to be in Kazakhstan and not to try them.

We have been offered beshbarmak (a nourishing hot dish from meat and dough) with horse-flesh and kazy (sausage from horse-flesh). The unique recipe of beshbarmak doesn’t exist in Kazakhstan; different types of meat are used for its cooking. Presentation of the dish is the whole ritual. For example, if the dish is cooked from mutton, the best pieces of meat and the head of a ram are put before the guest of honor. The last divides the head between all attendees.  

Baursaks are the pieces of dough fried in hot fan. In Kazakhstan they cook from the fresh test, attendees have compared it to the St. Petersburg donuts. And I have remembered very native taste of the childhood which I looked for long ago –I was already treated with such baursak in Kazakhstan. 

Koumiss, as well as in Bashkiria, takes a place of honor on a table. As an unsophisticated taster I haven’t found special differences, just it was pleasant to me.

Symbol of Astana – a monument of Bayterek

Perhaps, it is possible to recognize Astana by the image of «Bayterek” at once. The monument possesses not only a unique shape, but also tells about mythology of ancient nomads. The design made of metal, glass and concrete represents a life tree (bayterek), the sphere (egg) with a diameter of 22 meters lies in its crown. Egg represents the Sun which from the beginning of spring is oviposit by a sacred bird Samruk every year. Monument height is 97 meters that is symbolical, in 1997 Astana became the capital of Kazakhstan. At Bayterek’s top there is an observation deck. Here it is possible to touch a print of a palm of the Head of state Nursultan Nazarbayev – “Ayala alakan”. They say that if at the same time to make a wish, then it will come true.

Park Square, surrounding Bayterek, is usually used for holding unusual actions and exhibitions. Therefore it is possible that during your visit of the monument you will have a pleasant surprise.

National museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan

It is the largest museum in Central Asia. It settles down at Independence Square in a uniform architectural complex with a monument “Kazak Eli”, the Palace of Independence, the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, the cathedral mosque “Hazret Sultan” and the Kazakh national university of arts. So, standing at an entrance to the museum, it is possible to admire several sights of Astana at once.

In the National museum the exhibits telling about history of mankind and, of course, Kazakhstan are collected. It is possible to get acquainted with national culture in the hall of ethnography; the yurta (the figurative dwelling of nomads) is recreated in the same place. The modern art is presented separately in the museum.

If you want to see how the modern museum looks like and it isn’t dull to be there – you should go here. The curved video screen, media floor consisting of 800 screens, dynamic model of a new business and cultural center of Astana, the hologram, LED screens, information booth, the multimedia multilingual audio guide … Contemporaneity is not less than history.

Center of family rest “Ailand”

This walk “pulls” the whole day especially if you travel with children. In “Ailand” there is an oceanarium, aqua park, the jungle, a 65-meter big wheel and the food court.

Now I can tell that I have visited the oceanarium, most remote from the ocean. Its tanks contain 3 million liters of water and 120 tons of sea salt. And, judging by the pacified type of couple of thousands of its inhabitants, the distance from native elements in 3 000 kilometers doesn’t confuse them at all. On a bottom of the central tank there passes the 70-meter transparent tunnel. The visitors watching the sharks, fishes, turtles and other numerous inhabitants floating at arm’s length are walking on this tunnel. And it is possible to look at a show of mermaids if to guess over time visits.

Astana Ballet Theater

You come to a new modern theater. On an entrance you are met by girls with faultless appearance in uniform (up to color of shoes). In this theater there is a wish to put on a cocktail dress in which simplicity and elegance are inherent. It will approach an interior of “Astana Ballet”.

In “Astana Ballet” it is possible to see not only masterpieces of world classics, but also national works. The theater is distinguished by the latest decisions in the field of light and a sound. For example, at the disposal of light operator there are about 800 devices. 

Panoramic restaurant “Eternal Sky”

The best continuation of evening is visiting this restaurant. «Eternal Sky ” receives guests on the 25th floor of business center “Moscow”. The smart view of Astana to visitors opens already during rise in the glass elevator. In my case the view of evening Astana. And yes, in this city they definitely don’t save on illumination! At the restaurant the windows are panoramic (from floor to ceiling). Therefore it is possible to choose a little table overlooking Bayterek, Akorda (residence of the president of Kazakhstan) or just to watch numerous multi-colored fires of the megalopolis.

The restaurant will offer you the best dishes of the Turkic-speaking people inhabiting the territory of Central Asia since ancient times. I have chosen gentle stewed horse-flesh – and haven’t regretted.

Triumphal arch “Mangilik El”

It sees off and welcomes guests of Astana, traveling by plane. A symbol of the 20 anniversary of independence of Kazakhstan with logical height of 20 meters, an arch “Mangilik El” is situated in the middle of the highway. It is possible to pass to it across the underground crosswalk. In a design of an arch the principle of golden ratio is observed therefore its proportions are considered as ideal. In the basis the aksakal’s (a wisdom symbol), female mothers, the soldier nomad and the modern serviceman sculptures are placed. The Kazakh ornament decorates the sight on corners. At the top the observation deck is equipped.

I come back from Astana with the impressive official guide on the city 100 pages thick and with understanding that it is worth returning to this city.