Eating in Astana

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I’m into the third country of my trip, Uzbekistan, but let’s start at the beginning–Kazakhstan. After an extremely long, and at times painfully boring train trip, I arrived in Astana to meet my Couchsurfing hosts. I struggle to think of better hosts than Liliya, Alfiya and Indira. Having amazing people lead me around made all the difference, and I left with a really good impression of Astana.

Astana has only been the capital of Kazakhstan for some 15 years, when president Nazarbaev built it out of the dust, Dubai-style. In contrast to so many of the older CIS cities, like Almaty and Bishkek (leaving aside Tashkent for the moment) Astana is completely modern. Aside from the fact that everyone speaks Russian, it seems to hold little debt to the Soviets.

Traditionally, the Kazakhs and Kyrgyz peoples were nomadic, which means that for food they used what was most easily available, namely meat, dairy, and bread. The food is certainly more connected to the rest of Central Asia than to Russia, with staples like manti (meat dumplings) kururt (dried cheese balls, shown above), and the ubiquitous, delicious lepeshka bread. You can even drink shubat, fermented camel milk, if you are so inclined.

If you’re in Astana, I can recommend eating at Marrone Rosso, part of the Israeli Aroma coffee chain (below), going to Bambino for ice cream, and going anywhere on the embankment for an evening drink, when it’s all lit up.

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8 Comments on “Eating in Astana”

  1. Stanislava says:

    Miss you, Sarah!

  2. You know who... says:

    Sounds like lots of fun. Enjoy!!!!

  3. Nic Sharkey says:

    What are your thoughts on Kazakhstan overall? Would you recommend travelling there? What was your inspiration in going there?

    • Sarah says:

      Kazakhstan is a cool place as long as you’re prepared for long stretches of steppe and some brutal weather changes. Speaking some Russian really helps, too. It can be really soothing to get off the beaten track.

      • Nic Sharkey says:

        Sounds interesting. I have to agree with you though, there’s nothing like escaping the crowds and discovering a place for yourself.
        Very inspiring. How long are you travelling for?

  4. ruthie says:

    hi there! just found your blog and saw that you got the train from moscow to astana – would love to hear what you thought of the trip as i was looking at doing it and wondered is it safe for a solo female or is it extremely rough and ready? thanks!!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi ruthie! I bet you’ll find it just fine. I was seated next to two women, and there were several families in the car. Not at all unsafe. In fact, I can imagine the only thing you’ll suffer from is boredom–bring lots of music, books, and paper. Oh, and photos! People will love to know more about your ‘foreign land’ :))

      • ruthie says:

        hi Sarah! Thank you so much for the info! It sounds like a great trip & thanks for the tips. Couldn’t find much info online so it was nice to stumble upon your blog.🙂


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