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Climbing "Roof of the world"
Day 7. "City of parks"

Dushanbe streets It was Sunday and we went for a walk around the city. Walking and admiring buildings of the Soviet "Stalin" architecture we have reached the first place - the Botanical garden which has stricken the author's imagination by its beauty!

Entrance to the Botanical Garden I don't know, by what criteria botanical gardens (as botanical gardens) are estimated, but this one is very nice, first of all, as the park located in downtown area where you see huge subtropical coniferous trees (they can be seen even in the city!); plus there is the ethno town in the garden which expositions display life of Tajiks, and huge, wholly carved, wooden aivans (shipon) bewitch you by skilful ornaments. This is the traditional place of photo session for newly weds, and magnificent marriage processions surrounded us everywhere that Sunday morning.

National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan Further we have arrived to the National Museum named after Kamoliddin Bekzod where basically flora and fauna, ethnography and country achievements for the last 100 years are presented.

Buddha in nirvana at the Museum of Antiquities Right after the Museum we have visited the National museum of antiquities of Tajikistan where we saw the most fascinating and well-known exhibit is Buddha in nirvana - or Sleeping Buddha, its length is almost 13 meters and occupies the entire hall of the museum. The statue has been found at excavation of Buddhist monastery of Adzhin-Teppa in 1959-1966.

The city of the parks Also we have walked along the Somoni square near the Theatre of opera and ballet. We have tasted local beer - 3 somoni per glass (from a category "cheap but good"), walked along a thematic park-pavilion with an unusual name "Moscow" and then came back to our hotel where careful Hursheda-apa and Muzaffar-ako had already prepared for us surprise - dinner from a local, southern dish kurutob (kurt and water), made of kurt (kurt is Turkic and also Mongolian analogue of dry cottage or young cheese (actually something between), sliced flat cake, greens, sezam oil - and all it on the huge wooden plate acquired by our supporters specially for this dish.

Beautiful Tajik women We were very glad to have a chance to try something endemic, local as in general Tajik and Uzbek (so familiar to us) cuisines are very similar, as well as the majority of traditions of both peoples. Besides, kurutob is cold and light meal, and it was just in time after such intensive campaign in July heat of a southern city.

Gissar fortress Towards evening we went for excursion to the Gissar fortress (10 km from Dushanbe) - ancient control and strong point on the Great Silk Road. From the top of the fortress ruins we could observe the valley leaving afar where there used to be caravans, and nearby - an old caravan-shed, the fortress of Ibragim-bek (the deputy of Bukhara Emir), a market and madrasah. Talkative guide, whom we have "picked up" (or he "was picked up") at the entrance to the fortress, has suggested us to go further to the Gissar valley and to take a look at a summer cottage on the river bank of Kafirnigan which was for rent to foreign tourists.

Kafirnighan river in Gissar valley The place was really quite good, right on the fast river, with a natural sandy beach, but, certainly, it's not for foreign tourists - it's for local people from Dushanbe, the ones who would like to hang over. We have swum in the river, visited the house and went back to Dushanbe.

In the city park We had supper in central choyhona Rahat which is a huge complex: a large two-storey building-aivan with tasty meal and one tiny toilet that is half an hour away from the place. Well it is fine - we have already raised the toilet issue. As people have been saying from time immemorial: "When in Rome, do as Romans do". But all the same we are not just tourists, we are tour operators and therefore we should notice - though the country declares that it is aimed at tourism development, infrastructure and relation to the "tourist value" concept, nevertheless, still leaves much to be desired.

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