Karaganda, Kazakhstan

I would wager a month’s rent that not a single Facebook friend of mine has Karaganda, Kazakhstan on their bucket list. As of October 15th, Denise and I can now cross it off of ours. As I have already confessed, prior to the possibility of making this trip and beginning to plan for it, I could not have named one city in Kazakhstan, much less the fourth largest. To our surprise, the city was quite pleasant, the people were exceptionally nice, and the students we talked to at the various fairs were very impressive. Continue reading

Astana, Kazakhstan

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There being no direct flight from Istanbul to our next destination, Astana, Kazakhstan, we left late in the evening of October 11 for Almaty, where we would connect with a flight to Astana. After a two hour layover following the three hour flight from Istanbul, we arrived at the capital city of Astana. Astana has been the capital of Kazakhstan only since 1997. Like Brasilia replacing Rio de Janeiro in 1960 and Abuja replacing Lagos in 1991, Astana became the capital based on the premise that a new administrative center in a planned city with a more strategic location could better serve the needs of the government. As a result, we found ourselves in a very glitzy environment with modern gleaming buildings of glass and steel. Astana, which means “capital” in Kazakh, replaced the name Akmola, the name given to the city in 1992 when the Soviet name Tselinograd was dropped. Continue reading

Istanbul – 2

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The sheer magnitude of the city and the numerous sites available convinced us that an organized tour, including a cruise on the Bosporus and the Sea of Marmara, would be the most efficient and effective way to use our next to last day in Istanbul. The weather was cool, but the time on the boat was comfortable and enjoyable, and we had some very stunning views of the city. Continue reading