There’s no better feeling than checking the trip of a lifetime off your bucket list – which I got to do last summer, when I explored Uzbekistan.
Central Asia and the cities that made up the Silk Road had fascinated me ever since I heard the 1977 Roberto Vecchioni recording of the Italian song “Samarcanda.” So when ExplorHer, an Italian travel project aimed exclusively at women and girls, announced a trip to Uzbekistan, I knew I had to be a part of it.
My payment to the agency for this trip was €2250, which covered everything from airfare – a direct flight from Milan Malpensa to Urgench, and another back from Tashkent’s Karimov Airport – to the entrance tickets for pretty much all major tourist attractions, from the madrassas of Bukhara to the Ulugbek Observatory in Samarkand.
A tour leader from Italy and an Italian-speaking Uzbek guide accompanied us throughout our trip. We moved from one city to the other in a private minivan with a local driver.
The fee included all accommodations: one night at the Zarafshon Boutique Hotel in Khiva, two at the Amelia Boutique Hotel in Bukhara, two at the Grand Samarkand Superior Hotel in Samarkand and a final one at the Inspira-S Hotel in Tashkent. Finally, it covered our second dinner in Bukhara, which was spent inside the Nadir Divanbegi madrassah, where we watched a show of typically Uzbek folk music and dance.
Lunch: The first occasion to spend my newly exchanged Uzbek currency came when we stopped for lunch after a morning exploring the incredible Ichon-Qala, the old citadel of Khiva. At a local restaurant, we dug into Uzbek cuisine – I went for some freshly fried gumma meat pies – as well water and soft drinks. At the end of the meal we also ordered a plate of watermelon slices, which would become a staple of our diet on the trip. We split the bill eight ways; my share came to €5.20.
Activities: During our action-packed day in Khiva, we explored the old Juma Mosque and the blue-tiled courtyards of the Kuhna Ark fortress. My favorite activity was climbing up the walls around the West Gate late in the afternoon to watch the sun set over the entire citadel. The steps leading up the walls are very much a feat for your knees and sense of balance – but what waits at the top is worth it, especially if there are no clouds obstructing the sun. (The ticket that includes access to the walls is around €11, which our group had paid months in advance.)
Dinner: For dinner, we sat down at Tapas Restaurant, which has a beautiful view of the Kalta Minor Minaret. I ordered Uzbekistan’s national dish, plov rice, plus a couple of beef skewers, as well as water, soft drinks and a final plate of watermelon and white melon. My share of the bill came out to €8, which turned
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Set at the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road, Uzbekistan is famed for its stunning historical architecture and beautiful mosques and madrassas, alongside Soviet modernism, a flourishing arts and crafts scene, a rich traditional culture, and the genuine hospitality of local people.
Central Asia’s biggest showstopper, Uzbekistan promises rich travel experiences on the Silk Road in historic cities but also a vibrant living culture. The nation is alive with bazaars, arts and crafts, sustainable fashion and exciting music festivals.
The 25th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is scheduled for October 16-20 this year in Samarkand. For the first time in history, Uzbekistan will host this important biennial gathering of member states and affiliate members of UNWTO.
As the summer travel season comes to a close, one airline is giving travelers a reason to start planning next summer's vacation. Delta Air Lines announced it will be operating its largest trans-Atlantic flight schedule ever, debuting just in time for summer 2024. The airline will be adding new destinations including Naples and bringing back service to Shannon, Ireland. According to Delta, next summer it will operate 260 weekly flights to 18 countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). This includes a new flight from JFK to Munich three times a week that will start on April 9, 2024, and a daily nonstop flight to Shannon, Ireland that will begin on May 23, 2024. The carrier will expand its existing service to Italy — it already flies to Milan, Venice, and Rome — with a new daily service to Naples. It will also resume service between Atlanta and Zurich, Switzerland, four times a week, which had originally been cut in 2019.
Looking for trip inspiration can be a frustrating experience especially if you’re super reliant on tour books. You’ll find quickly that you’ll be overloaded with tons of recommendations for busy tourist traps open only during the day.
As a traveler who prefers the off-season for its more affordable prices and fewer visitors, I try not to fly in July and August, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. I wait until fall when rates for flights and hotels normally plunge and crowds shrink.
The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR) today reveals the UK Travel & Tourism sector is forecast to exceed the 2019 peak this year. The sector is set to contribute £252.4BN to the UK economy this year, surpassing the 2019 pre-pandemic high of £248.5BN.
The World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism will return to Donostia-San Sebastian in Spain (5-7 October) to focus on how tourism can foster rural development, build economic resilience, and preserve cultural heritage.
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