What a thoughtful gift! Kazakhstan decided to let us in visa-free!
Thanks for the invitation, Kazakhstan! You’re terribly cold right now, so we won’t appreciate your hospitality to the fullest, we won’t hike your mountains, nor will we trek your scenic Charyn canyon, we will, however, spend three lovely frosty days in your capital of culture, art and finances: Almaty.
And in Almaty – Europe far from Europe. It’s here that we may find the most fascinating museums of Central Asia, listen to the street musicians for the first time since very long, watch the local artists trying to sell their pictures in the pedestrian quarter. We’ll stroll the manicured parks, smile at an elderly lady feeding the squirrels and pigeons, have lunch at Pommodoro or Del papa and then coffee at Dolce Gusto. We’ll pass elegant ladies in fur in the entrance to the fashionable new mall who will have just finished shopping at Gucci’s and Maxmara. Add apperitivo and several handsome Italians and you’ve got yourself a Milano Russo – a soviet version of Milan.
Not once will we hear the question where are you from, because here everyone can be local. Or no one. In the former exile city, there are the grandkids of Ukrainian and Polish war prisoners, Germans and Koreans, descendants of every corner of the former Soviet Union. After the break of USSR, citizenships were granted rather spontaneously: where one lived in ’91, such a passport they received. You can also easily spot some original Kazakh people. As a result, Almaty is a melting pot just like the Big Apple and even has an apple nickname itself!
We’ll board a sleeper bus with beds that can fit people up to 1,5m and take the road to China. The Kazakh customs officer will smile at us, chant a song from Four tank-men and a dog, having looked into our passports. “Watch out for yourselves, Palyaki!” – he’ll wave us goodbye.
Thanks for letting us feel at home, Kazakhstan.
 A popular Polish series from the 60s about the adventures of a tank crew during World War II.