After spending 2 weeks on the most amazing road trip ever, we were ready for the comforts and relaxation provided by the modern world. Goodbye mountains, hello comfy beds and delicious food! Even though we were excited to have hot showers, great food and relax, we were also in Dushanbe to try to obtain three visas for the next countries we were going to visit: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran.
After stepping off of the helicopter (I still can’t believe we got to go on such an amazing ride), we parted ways with Jess and took a taxi to our guesthouse. When we arrived, it was around dinner time so Nick and I checked in and followed our rumbling bellies to the nearby chaikhana (teahouse) for some kebabs, bread, salad and chai. We we still so pumped up about our helicopter ride that we talked and talked very excitedly for quite a while before heading home.
We had planned to spend about 10 days in Dushanbe arranging all of the visas and getting caught up on the website. What we didn’t plan was to actually stay in the city for the whole time! We had all of these great plans to head out into the nearby Fan Mountains and do some more trekking and possibly camping. That didn’t happen.
We loved Dushanbe so much and found ourselves having a little routine that was nice for a change. We awoke whenever we felt like it and walked the 3kms down the beautiful Rudaki Main Street to our favourite coffee place. We’d have two double Americanos with milk on the side and order up some fabulous brunch – pumpkin & pear soup, pastas, salmon salad, roasted vegetables and other delicious western food. The food and coffees were perfect. We then would work on the website, go and see some sights and plan what we wanted for dinner.
Seven out of the eleven days that we were there, we ate Indian food! As you know, we love this cuisine. We can’t get enough of it. To be completely honest, the food here was the best Indian food we’ve had – in India or outside of India. The owner is from Delhi and the chefs are from the sub-continent as well. The thick, flavourful, spicy curries hit the spot; the fluffy naan bread smothered in butter and garlic were amazing and the masala chai tea was thick and creamy. We tried something new every night and were never disappointed.
Apart from eating delicious Indian food and drinking Italian coffee, we did dabble in the local cuisine as well. When we were in the Pamirs, we heard about a traditional food called kurtob (yogurt, onions, coriander and flatbread served in a wooden bowl) but weren’t able to try it. So, I was on the hunt for this food in Dushanbe. We found it at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant (seriously, it was a hole in the wall!)
We also ate at a nearby teahouse that we went to for lunch and snacks. We found some juicy, roasted chickens at the bazaar for dinner a couple of nights, and also discovered a great shawarma stand.
Getting hungry yet?!
The city of Dushanbe was relaxing, quiet, beautiful and had just enough going on for us. The huge Haji Yakoub Mosque fills up on Fridays for the 1:00 call to prayer. Worshippers rolled out their own personal carpet, knelt down and prayed. It was a very interesting sight to see.
Bag-i-Radaki Park was a great place to watch the sun set while kids whipped by on roller blades, parents pushed their babies in strollers and couples walked hand in hand. The flowing fountains, monuments and serene atmosphere made this a great place to linger.
Near our guesthouse was the bustling Varzob Bazaar. Here we found everything we needed for our roast chicken dinner: fresh bread and every ingredient for a salad. Everyone said hello to us, were happy to have photos taken and even offered us free samples of food.
At the end of our 11 days in Dushanbe, we had successfully obtained our Iranian visa (it took 24 hours and cost 75 euros), Turkmenistan visa (it took 5 business days and cost $55) and our Uzbekistan visa (it took 2 hours and cost $75). Dushanbe is the place to go if you need these visas!
We had stuffed ourselves with great food, done some souvenir shopping, wandered the streets many times, got caught up on our website and enjoyed some down time. But it was now time to move on.
Uzbekistan, here we come!
Where we slept in Dushanbe:
Adventurer’s Inn. Address: Pulod Tolis 5/11 near the Varzob Bazaar.
Cost: $18/person/night. We bargained and paid $15/person/night. Including wi-fi and shared bathroom.
Where we ate in Dushanbe:
Salaam Namaste. Address: 81 Rudaki Ave. Phone: 992487018634, +992938694154.
Cost: $5.80 for meat curries, $5.40 for vegetarian curries. Breads & rice $1.25-$2. They also serve beer.
Segafredo Zanetti. Address: 70 Rudaki Ave. Phone: +992487015777.
Cost: $1.45 for an Americano coffee. Soups $2.30-$3.10. Pastas $3.55-$6.45. Breakfast $1-$2.50. Salads $3.30-$8. Steaks, salmon, chicken meals around $10.
Also check out the teahouse right at the intersection of the Varzob Bazaar for kebabs $1-$3 and salad $1.50. Look for the roasted chickens being sold on the street and for the small shawarma shop on Rudaki Ave.
Do you ever find yourself craving a bit of routine and western foods while on the road? Share with us below!
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