We stayed at Calm Harbour on the recommendation of a friend and we were very impressed. This is definitely a place for those who want a quiet break and are turned off by the large crowds that fill the beaches at Issyk Kul's big tourists centers.
This place is open all year round which allows those of us like me who work in Bishkek for long stretches, to get out for a relaxing break during the long winter season. Although cold, the lake offers a wonderful-sight when in winter, and we even went for a midnight dip in the icy waters after using the russian banya (sauna) that's situated on the beach. An experience!
The onsite climbing wall is also a nice touch.
Aurora was a popular tourist destination for Russians in the USSR days. The skeleton of the building and the expanse of gardens reflected that heyday. Now it was past!
Our room had a balcony looking onto the gardens, with a large vertical section missing (big enough for an adult to leap onto the cultivated marigold design 4 floors below us.) The suite had 2 single beds in one room, and a couch in another room which was meant to serve as a bed for a 2nd child. The couch was small and uncomfortable and my children laid claim to the beds within a few seconds of getting to our room. I slept in one of the beds with the feet of my daughter in my face.
Our meals for the next day were chosen from a list. Perhaps it was just the translation, but every dish seemed to be "boiled meat in many vegetables". Who could refuse such a compelling description!
The list of food was not published on our last day, and for our final breakfast we could choose the roast chicken from the previous supper, or the boiled meat from 2 nights' before. Oh, how I longed for our meals in the outdoors eating tomatoes, cucumbers, bread and sausages and looking at the vista!
Our room rate included some exciting medical options like an "intestinal purge" and "irrigation". These were options I decided not to take up. The most medical option we used was the pool - open from 9am to 11am daily.
Evening entertainment provided was very amusing. I could not understand why the band playing was so bad as a listened to the nightly disco from our room ... until I discovered it was Karaoke.
For the children there were squirrels everywhere, and a fun playground where my son met Britney's Spears' nephew (or so he said). Master Spears also told us he was in Grade 20 - he looked about 12. How children love being older, famous and more important! At least he gave my son a chance to try out some Kyrgyz phrases from our phrasebook.
Please understand that I loved every minute in this hotel. It was as much an insight into culture as it was a place to stay.
I regret not taking a photograph of the English instructions in the lift. It was an electromechanical device - intriguing. It read something like this: "If the light illuminates in the direction of your wishing, or both, step inside". Then you needed to press the floor number, which was more like a latching switch than a button. After that, you pressed a big red button, which I thought of as "GO". The children fought over who would press the lift buttons!
Otherwise known as the Aurora (built to simulate the ship from which the Russian Revolition was launched), in the village of Bulan Sogotuu, 20 kilometers east of Cholpon Ata.
It has all facilities; beginnig from pool to massaj.
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