As I was driving up to my friend's house at the conclusion of our last girls weekend, she turned to me with an excited face, "Do you want to go to Bukhara to go rug shopping??"
"Of course!!" I excitedly replied. Because if one girls' weekend to go shopping is good, two girls' weekends to go shopping are even better. Just like the Fergana Valley is the center of ceramic production in Uzbekistan, Bukhara is the place to buy rugs.
So this last weekend we took the train to Bukhara to go and find more lovely things to fill our houses with. We had initially planned to only spend one day, flying there in the morning and flying home in the evening. But there weren't flights, so instead we spent two days, going on Friday and returning on Saturday.
There is a fast train that takes two hours to go to Samarkand and continues another two and a half hours on to Bukhara. It's fairly new and quite comfortable, so it wasn't much trouble to take the train instead of flying. We arrived in Bukhara before noon, dropped our bags off in the hotel, got some lunch, and then set out on our quest to find beautiful carpets.
The Silk Road cities in Uzbekistan have been hit hard by the lack of tourists for the last year, and so there were fewer rug shops open than when I went to Bukhara with my parents two years ago. Which was probably okay, as we intended to visit every single rug shop that we could find in the city. Rug shopping isn't something that can be rushed, so we were happy to have two days.
Having perfected our technique during our last trip, we made sure to take pictures of all the rugs that caught our fancy, not forgetting to note the starting price of each rug on the picture. By the time we had reached our last shop, I had at least thirty pictures on the camera roll of my phone and we didn't want to see any more rugs. It turns out that there can actually be too many beautiful rugs in one city.
Bukhara was holding the Silk and Spices festival the weekend we were there, and all of the citizens of Bukhara were out that evening to enjoy the dancers, music, and performers that were spread throughout the old city. After dinner, we enjoyed the party before stumbling back to our rooms and reviewing pictures and texting husbands for their input.
After phone calls and consults in the morning, I had narrowed down my list to three carpets and my friend had settled on definitely one and maybe two. Following breakfast, we set out to bargain for our treasures. The sellers were happy to have customers, and so we both got good deals on the carpets. I ended up buying two somaks, which are embroidered woven carpets in addition to two knotted carpets. My friend ended up with two rugs from the same seller that I bought mine from, so he was a very happy man by the end of the morning.
Our train didn't leave until four in the afternoon, so we enjoyed a long lunch in an air conditioned restaurant (the temperature was in the low hundreds both days) before boarding our train back to Tashkent. We spent the entire ride talking, soaking up one of the last times we could spent hours talking without interruptions. After we had gotten to Tashkent, one of our fellow passengers commented in Russian to another, "Can you believe, they spent the entire time talking?!? Four and a half hours! They never ever shut up!" We got a good laugh and silently apologized to our fellow passengers.
Now I have four more beautiful rugs to add to the four that I already have, and all of them definitely spark joy. And these four new rugs will always remind me of my lovely weekend spent with friends in Bukhara.