Friday, July 29, 2016


OK - everyone knows how much I LOVE to travel - even my travel loving husband says he doesn't want to travel as much as I do.  Other than missing my cat Lucy, I would have us be gone pretty much half the time- being elsewhere- discovering new things and exploring our world.  And to that end I have signed up for a new trip this week.

For years (actually since I returned from my first trip to India in 2005) I have wanted to do what travelers refer to as "the five 'stans" (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan) but Phil is completely uninterested.... and my "danger zone" travel buddy for many years has now made traveling to golf courses a higher priority than exotic travel so alas the 'stans were back burner-ed for me for a long time.

The Silk Route has always fascinated me and we spent time in western China just a couple of years ago on the Tea Horse Road which was just a different trade route from the same era as the Silk Route.

Then last week I was checking on the website of a travel company we have used to plan trips for us to the former Soviet Union countries (most recently our trip to Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Transdniestria, and Odessa last fall) and found a trip that was perfect for me! It was about markets and food and culture and architecture. It is being led by the author of the new travel/cook book called Samarkand.  Her name is Caroline Eden.  I bought the book and have been pouring over the photos (many wonderful photos) and the recipes (many wonderful recipes) for the last day and a half....

The trip is a "getting my toes wet" kind of dip into the 'stans because it is only ten days long and only focuses on the "Backstreets and Bazaars" of Uzbekistan. I am already so excited about this one. The one draw back is (as with India) getting there... but just like my first trip to Asia (Thailand in 2000) turned out to be a non-event and my India trips were long and involved but a vague memory once you are there on the ground.... this too will be a very very long day of east-bound travel but then I will be somewhere I have never been before.

I think only my Aunt can really appreciate the emotion behind that sentence I just typed "then I will be somewhere I have never been before" - it is that side of the family that holds the travel gene.

then I will be somewhere I have never been before

It isn't that I want to go everywhere - I don't - but there are many places I do still want to see. And while my sister has already left this planet (and didn't get that gene anyway) I am still here and as long as I am I want to keep exploring.  I spend a lot of time in my life in contemplation and despite what you may have concluded about me given the social life we lead (my husband recharges with human interaction) there are many days I never leave home.  I used to say I was agoraphobic LOL - and people would laugh - but it was true in a weird way, because I would only leave the house to go to O'Hare and leave the country.  Then I met Phil and social activities became a part of my married life.

Still the easiest way for me to get outside of myself is to travel.  So this trip- run by this woman- to this place- spoke to me.

this is her book's dedication:

here is the route map and a few photos from the travel agent's website (we use Joanna Millick at MIRcorp.)

From the MIR travel details-

Join renowned travel writer Caroline Eden as you taste your way through the vibrant heart of the Silk Road, Uzbekistan, on a culinary and cultural caravan held during the height of Navruz. A centuries-old festival, Navruz is a joyous welcoming of the return of spring and the beginning of a new year, when families and local communities celebrate over sumptuous feasts, songs and dance. Beginning in the modern capital of Tashkent, introduce your palate to the exciting tastes of Uzbek cuisine during a meeting with one of the city’s renowned chefs. Explore the ancient architecture of three of the most celebrated Silk Road oases – Bukhara, Khiva and Samarkand – and browse their famed markets and bazaars for the brilliant silks, ceramics and spices that gave the region its exotic flavor. Join with the locals in celebrating Navruz at a special community ceremony, and gather for a festive Navruz dinner. Along the way, participate in hands-on cooking classes and demonstrations, meet with master artisans in their workshops, dine with local families in their private homes and discover the rich history, enduring traditions and abundant hospitality essential to everyday Uzbek culture.

and these are some of the travel/cook book's illustrative photos -

all the book's photographs were done by Laura Edwards and are wonderfully evocative.  As I titled the post- I am SO PSYCHED to be doing this trip next March....

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