Greetings! I wanted to write a “quick” blog post about our shenanigans before we fly away for our first vacation! Woo hoo! We’ve been up to no good, per se, touring the city and getting ready for our trip. We’ve visited the various malls, markets, and restaurants around town. This post will pretty much be about food, as that seems to be all that I blog about anyway. It is exciting finding new restaurants because we don’t know what the food will be like. So far, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by everything. I’m sure you will be too.
We went to the mall and had some Mexican food at Uno Dos Tacos. Casey’s burrito was very fresh and delicious. My tacos were also tasty, just a little small. The portion sizes are smaller than in the US, but that’s better actually since they are more like what normal sizes should be. They give you plastic gloves, which I presume are for eating the tacos since they are juicy and messy. How convenient! (If you can see the small writing next to Pasta Nostra, it says “The offer you can’t refuse!” Love it!) Then we went to a café for a cappuccino and red velvet cake.
That same day, we went to another mall to find a tailor to take in Casey’s backpacking pants. There was a wooden hut in the middle of the mall which sells smaller carvings of wooden things. Adorable and clever!
We also found SeoulMart! A small store filled with Korean items. They had quite a few food items, as well as makeup products and dishes, etc. We grabbed a few snacks for the road.
We started making snack bags for our upcoming trip. Casey likes to combine his snacks in one bag, while I prefer to separate bags into sweet or savory items. This one bag of his caught my eye. Shrimp chips and M&Ms! A winning combination??
We finally went to eat at Café Nedelka! Like Casey said, it was delicious! Very good flavors at a very reasonable price. A smoothie, grapefruit lemonade, caesar salad, and fetuccini alfredo. Yummy!
Casey went to play football one evening with his co-workers. His company pays for the field once a week, so the guys meet up and have a good time for free. It’s a great system. The guys are very nice, and he loves getting the exercise while having fun. There are three fields, so it’s a fairly big place. It’s an enclosed area but the sides are open to let in some air. In winter though, they can lower the tarp on the sides of the fence to keep out the cold air.
We found a very tasty place just down the block. The menu was like a passport. He ordered a cappuccino and I ordered a lemonade of some kind. I certainly had enough to drink. We ordered a lamb burger (the other meat option was horse) and a chicken stir-fry type of thing. Very good flavors! The presentations of everything was quite fancy too. This was one of the more expensive meals we’ve had. It was about $21 dollars. Still not bad! They also like to give you the check in some cute mug or box around here.
Another day, we went to an American-style restaurant called Mandy’s Diner! We sat outside next to the “river.” There is open water like this around the city. It’s just water drainage from the mountains nearby. It’s actually quite relaxing to hear the sound of the water if you’re walking by it. Anyway, Casey had an iced latte and a nice American breakfast with pancakes and eggs. Their pancakes are perfect! I had a BBQ chicken burger that was decent and a strawberry lemonade that seemed like Kool-Aid. Probably won’t order that again.
The final meal I’d like to note is our dinner last night at Manga Sushi! They have sushi all over the place here; at restaurants and in the food court at malls. I’ve been saving myself to eat it at a nice restaurant, and we finally had the chance. Their menu was like a magazine in style and thickness. (To Shannon – I kept wanting to say “Skip ahead to chapter 4. It’s the lunch menu.”)
We had some delicious raspberry mint lemonade, little bao burgers, two dinner sushi rolls, and even a sushi dessert! The berry sauce that came with the dessert was served in a dish made out of a fried wonton skin. Casey took a bite out of it and he looked just like Willy Wonka taking a bite out of the flower teacup! (To Mom – it made me think of you!) They gave us a piece of gum and a toothpick with the check. Nice touch.
Every restaurant we’ve been to has some sort of lemonade drink. It’s not necessarily the classic lemonade we think of in the US, but it’s usually very good. It seems like sparkling water, some type of sugar syrup, and then some type of fruit. Sometimes there’s a citrus flavor to them but not always. I wonder how they started calling it lemonade in the first place.
Well, I have much more to say about my time here, but I’ll call it good for now and move on to our backpacking trip. We’ve been planning and packing almost every day. We bought our food and portioned it out into specific meals and days. We weigh all the food and figure out exactly how many calories is in each meal or snack. Then we bag it all up and know how much we have to eat for each day.
We are going to carry some of our food at the beginning of the trail (that’s in bag number one), and then we’re going to send the rest to the little mountain huts along the way to resupply ourselves when we get there. We have all the food portioned out into four different bags. We also have been very particular as to what else we carry along the trail. Casey’s pack weighs less than 8 pounds, and mine is just over 8 pounds. That’s not counting food or water. It’s an interesting lifestyle out there. I’m not sure what to expect since I haven’t been on such a long trip before. It’ll be about 18-19 days. We’ve planned out each of our days pretty carefully mileage-wise, but there is one detour to a mountain that we’ll decide when we get there. We’ll see what the weather is like and then decide if we want to go or not. The pictures below show exactly what is in our backpacks.
So that’s about it! We had a nice evening tonight for our last night in Almaty. We met two of his coworkers who used to work at Arik Air in Lagos. I knew one of them already, and it was nice to see a familiar face! We ended the night with a decadent dessert (or two) at a place called Whoopie Cakes! A little pricey for the area but very tasty. I got carrot cake and Casey got red velvet cake which really tasted more like strawberry shortcake, and they actually weren’t that sweet. Certainly not as sweet as they look.
On the walk home, we met this adorable, friendly cat! I wanted to pet it sooo badly! It sat on my shoes for a little while til I had to nudge it off. Too cute! It was a perfect way to end the evening.
I’ll blog as soon as we get back! I’ll have lots of pictures from our trip!
Ciao for now!