The visit of Samarkand started with the three Medresas, the Koranic schools where the scientific matters are also thought, on Registan (English: Sand) Square. The oldest one, the Medresa of Ulugh Beg, one important scientist of the Timur dynasty, was built in the 14-15th Century. A big effort was made by the soviets to restore the buildings and work still is in progress. The sandy underground had trouble to sustain the massive buildings, which started to tilt over, like the tower in Pisa. A brilliant soviet architect developed a technique to get it straight up, injecting liquid glass and glas fibers while lifting the building using hydraulic cylinders. The same technique was exported, according to Otabek (our guide who is a great fan of the soviets), to help the Italians in Pisa. We visited various shops, which now took over the study rooms of the old schools: Business must go on. In a pottery shop, Philippe fell for a beautiful plate. A former German Professor offered us his books on Samarkand in German but had little success. The Central Asia music instruments shop remembered us to the great visit of the Museum in Esfahan, on June 18, and the "Ethnology" experience in the souvenir shop triggered a lot of sweat for the models (René, Brecht, Gisèle - unrecognizable under the burka) and laughters to the audience.
After the tea break, where those who ordered a beer experienced a surprise with the Czech beer that was 10% strong (!), we visited the second largest Mosque in Central Asia. The soviets here too restored a ruin to save the cultural monument. Restoration work is still in progress but they are doing quite a good job.
After a visit to the market, where Uzbeks purchase their food and birds get a free lunch with various sorts of cereals and seeds waiting for them, we returned to the hotel where Arlette and Chantal had stayed, both with a bad stomach. Resting seems to have helped them as they looked in better shape when we reached. The afternoon at the pool was refreshing and relaxing.
The evening brought an unexpected surprise. We went for a walk in the neighbourhood and got attracted by a downstairs restaurant. Families and friends were celebrating the first birthday of a little girl. The ladies had dressed up in glittering dresses and the place itself looked glamorous with frescoes, chandeliers and pompous decorations. They were extremely friendly. An 11 year old boy spoke a little English.