Unfortunately, it started to rain just as we were walking to the park so our outing got cut short and instead we had a movie day in the apartment, enjoying our last bag of microwave popcorn and cups of hot Nesquick (which isn’t half bad).
Sasha and Steve enjoyed a long nap and then we headed out to the park again, which happened to be close to Mad Mulligan’s Irish Pub, which we had read about in our guidebook. On the way, we realized that it was St. Patrick’s Day, making our restaurant choice fortuitous indeed (although it would have been more convenient to come to this realization while we were still at the apartment so that I could change into something green and avoid all of the pinches I received along the way to dinner).
As you can see, Ben wasn’t enthused about the walk (he wasn’t feeling great), but as soon as our pizza arrived he started feeling much better. The food, by the way, was very good – by far the best pizza we’ve had in Kazakhstan (although Sam says that he liked Mario’s Pizza Palace more) and my burger was really quite tasty. They were out of Guiness (I know, how does that happen at an Irish pub?!?) but we toasted with the Russian brew on tap and enjoyed a very pleasant evening together. It feels good to eat something that tastes like home every once in a while.
On the eve of our last day in Kazakhstan, Steve and I have compiled this list for your amusement…
You know you’ve been in Kazakhstan a long time when:
- You think that fur is attractive and practical – furs are very popular here and there’s no better way to stay warm
- You freak out and almost burst out crying in gratitude whenever you hear somebody speaking English
- It’s -20 outside and 80 inside and it doesn’t phase you a bit
- You wish that your 6% milk was just a little creamier
- You aren’t surprised when the hot and cold taps are switched everywhere and the hot water is scalding
- Something’s missing from your dining experience if the restaurant isn’t blaring dance music
- You have never been so grateful that you don’t need a wheelchair
- Smoking in public places seems normal
- You don’t look twice when there’s horse meat on the menu
- It’s perfectly acceptable not to have lines on the street because it makes it all the easier to create your own lane
- You're used to a 1:1 employee to customer ratio in every store and security guards watching you carefully as you decide which bottle of shampoo to put in your cart
- You’re no longer offended that everybody walks down the street with their eyes turned down and a scowl on their face – it’s just the normal way to stroll
- You think that bright yellow and turquoise buildings look pleasantly patriotic – the national colors are blue and yellow