A Weekend Hockey Game in Astana – Barys vs Avangard

Last weekend I got a ticket from a friend to watch the local hockey team, Barys, play in the giant arena near the university campus.  She picked me up at a nearby mall and we met another one of her friends at the arena for the game.  The arena is quite nice inside, and it was absolutely packed with people for this game.  The opening ceremonies with the team introduction and the national anthems of Russia and Kazakhstan were really impressive.  The opponent for this game, which I’m pretty sure was the last of the season, was Avangard, the team from Omsk, Russia.  As someone who knows nothing about hockey, it was an interesting experience to see and hear everything going on during the game in Russian (I still don’t quite understand what was happening).  Unfortunately, the local team lost 3-1, but it was a cool experience nonetheless.  I’ll probably end up going back again next season, especially if my Russian is better (maybe I can figure things out!).  Anyway, here are some shots from the game.

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Barys Arena
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Opening Ceremonies
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Opening Ceremonies

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Final score 1-3

Winter Wandering in Astana

As you can probably guess from both the title and the time of year, its wintertime in Astana.  And yes, to answer the question I already know is coming next, it is very cold living in what is essentially south Siberia (but without the trees).  Since its usually grey, cloudy, and windy all day in addition to being cold I rarely go outside and explore the city.  However, this was the first day in the month of so since I’ve been back from my holiday in the US that the sky was blue and not smoggy/hazy, so I decided to go exploring again even though it was -5ºF/-20ºC outside.

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I didn’t exactly go anywhere new or exciting that I haven’t written about before, but the city looks pretty different in the snow.  It was interesting to visit places that are packed with people in the summer that are completely dead in winter.  For example, the viewpoint for the Presidential Palace usually has people walking around, especially in the park right before the stairs, but today it was only me and a security guard.  I saw maybe ten people total walking outside in the park between Khan Shatyr and Ak Orda.  I will say that I had to melt ice off of my face a few times, but it really didn’t feel that cold outside when walking in the sun.  Most everywhere is plowed or shoveled down to the cement, though I did have to trudge through knee deep snow near the Pyramid when I was trying to find a good view.  Anyway, here are some pics of Astana in the winter as a brief update before I catch up on writing about my trips to southern Kazakhstan and Turkey.

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I thought these looked stupid in the summer, but I see why they are here after walking by in winter – so much cooler
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Snow plows in clearing the plaza in front of Ak Orda
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The Pyramid looks impressive surrounded by white
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The city skyline in the distance beyond some natural snow drifts near the Pyramid
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Hazret Sultan Mosque is even prettier in the snow
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The street in front of Independence Square contrasts the blue of the sky and surrounding buildings