Every Wednesday evening E and I have a date-night. In winter this usually means going out to eat, as it seems like there isn’t a lot else we can do in the city when the sun sets at 5pm. This Wednesday we were in Almaty on our visa run, and thus designated date night was moved back to the weekend. Having tried out nearly every decent restaurant in the city, I started looking online for a few more ideas. Unfortunately, most listed on “50 Great Date Ideas” etc… are completely impossible in Bishkek. So I decided to create my own list, just in case anyone else has a similar conundrum:
- Great cafes for book reading and conversation: Coffee Cafe (Mira), Cave Coffee, cafe with the unpronounceable name just across the street from Beta 1, La Vita Cafe (by Bishkek Park), the new Adriano Cafe South of Beta 2.
- Make a list of every cuisine in Bishkek. Each week try something different.
- Manas University, some of the other universities, and some of the embassies sometimes host concerts, music competitions, or other cultural events around the city.
- Watch the latest American Blockbuster dubbed in Russian. Even if you don’t understand all/any of it, watching Ninja Turtles in Russian could be potentially hilarious.
- Explore all the city’s parks. The longer parks (Erkindik and Jash Gvardiya – just East of Osh Bazaar) make for really nice long walks. Ata Turk Park (Axunbaeva) is beautiful in fall and has questionable amusement rides.
- Scavenger Hunting! If either of you like tools or Soviet-era paraphernalia, both the 2nd hand bazaars/flea markets stretching south of Osh and between Beta 2 and Orto Sai have interesting finds.
- Bazaar Gifting: go to Orto Sai, Osh, Madina or Dordoi; give each person a budget of 200 or 500 som and one hour to find the perfect gift for the other person. Or do the same with the 2nd hand bazaar stretching from Beta 2 to Orto-Sai (fantastic soviet-era post cards! plants! real gas masks!)
- Decide on a recipe that’s actually possible to cook in Bishkek; gather ingredients at the bazaar, and cook together.
- Bishkek does have museums, and sometimes they’re even open during opening hours.
Weekend Evening Dates
- Live Music! Chicago Pub, Old Edgars, Blonder Bag, Mid Point, Putin Pub and Promzona all have live music (and food).
- Russian/Kyrgyz Theater, Ballet or Opera at the old Russian theaters North of Chuy. It may not be the best theater you’ve ever experienced, but – it should be interesting…
- Watch and bet on a sports game! (Johnny Pub, Midpoint, Fenerbahce Cafe); only good if you’re really enthusiastic about sports.
- Go to an expensive restaurant just for dessert
Explore Outside of Bishkek
- Pack a picnic and go to Ala Archa! If it’s winter, eat plov or soup (basically the only two options) at the hotel/restaurant by the hiking trail entrance
- Pack a bottle of wine, head out Saturday afternoon, hike in Ala Archa, and spend the night at the little guesthouse. I think room prices are $60-100.
- Stop at one of the many restaurants en route to Ala Archa and have lunch + a short hike
- Go to Jannat Spa and Resort for the day. You can use the pool, Turkish hamam and Finnish Sauna for 700 som. Plus their terrace has beautiful views of the mountains.
- Spend the weekend at Jannat. They have ‘couples’ packages covering accommodation Friday and Saturday, spa treatment, breakfast (and lunch?) for $296. A little steep, but so are all hotel prices in Bishkek.
- Drive past Jannat to Kaverna 12 Kaminov; have lunch by the creek outside and go hiking in the mountains.
- Grab another couple and spend the weekend in a cabin at Kaverna 12 Kaminov. (Full reviews on Jannat and K12K here)
- Buruna Tower is only…two and a half hours away. But it’s really cool, and (again) you could pack a picnic. Photos Here.
…And now I’m kind of out of ideas. Let me know if you have any. Bishkek winter months are long, and I’d like a little more inspiration.