In case you couldn't tell, we weren't totally loving Uzbekistan. The history was objectively impressive, but the country in general felt a little bit like Tobias and we were his hair plugs: a little like we were not supposed to be there, a little unwelcoming, a little like our presence risked grave medical danger. Okay so maybe not that last part and maybe it's not the most effective analogy but anyway, that feeling changed with the much more accessible and welcoming Samarkand. Maybe it's because we had just left Bukhara, which challenged us to love it while doing whatever it could to stop us from loving it, but Samarkand stood out as the one place in Uzbekistan that felt enjoyable, comfortable, and welcoming, at least by Uzbek standards.
The ancient city of Bukhara, thought to be founded in the 6th century B.C., is like a small outdoor museum of its history. Important as a stop on the Silk Road and as a trading and cultural center before that biz ever started (so old), Bukhara's city center is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The whole city center. I think you can guess by that fact that Bukhara is not exactly the most modern place to visit. So in the previous post, about Tashkent, I mentioned how our next stop of Bukhara was like stepping back in time like whoa, and I realized afterward that I was thinking about Khiva, one of our subsequent and much more impressive stops, when I said that. Still, Bukhara is hella ancient too, and I don't think the center has changed in a long time, except for the tiny shops getting new kinds of soda and stuff. Full of mosques and madrassahs, dust and ashes, Bukhara seems to have preserved history. remarkably well. But with that comes, well, a bit of a hard time for tourists. Despite recognizing how important this place and its history were, we were kind of over it really fast.