Exactly as it sounds — a lovely Sunday afternoon at a Soviet-era ice skating rink. With lots and lots of stairs.

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One of my favorite things about Almaty is its close proximity to the mountains, and just how easy it is to spend time there, even on a day when there’s not a lot of spare time. A couple weeks ago, ahead of hosting a potluck at our house, Maki and I headed out just for an afternoon.

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Medeo, a Soviet-era skating rink, is a standard starting point for getting into the mountains, in part because its easily reached by public transit, and a 45 cent bus ticket is all you need to have access to the mountains. The day we picked, the rink was hosting some sort of snow motorcycling competition, but on an ordinary day, you can rent skates and skate high above the city. We hadn’t intended on skating, though, and instead spent our afternoon conquering the 842 steps that run up from the rink, along the Medeu dam.

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At the top, we got a nice glimpse over the valley, where you can see the gondolas headed up the mountain to Shymbulak, a base for skiing and other adventures (as I am well aware!).

IMG_1916Since we only had a little time anyway, we just wandered around a bit upon reaching the top of the stairs. We found some questionable English…

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And also a lot of snowfall.

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And a little graffiti.

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And with that, we returned back down the stairs, to a bus, and down the mountain. Even with a small stop for a few odds and ends, we still got home with plenty of time to put together our last preparations for our potluck.

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