Golden Goose has turned 7, and that means what? You are absolutely correct, that means we go places as a whole international team to celebrate!
This time, we chose Uzbekistan as the target GEO for our campaign of fun, and boy do we have a story to tell about our adventures there. We counted steps to test our faith, shredded a mound of carrots to cook an epic meal, and walked inside a giant burning oven for some bread. And how about going for a swim in an open pool at less than +10 centigrade? Yeah, we did that. Well, some of us… and not too voluntarily…
The GG team went to Uzbekistan to celebreate its birthday and check out the place for a new soon-to-open office. Sights: seen, food: devoured, drinks: drunk, stuff: done, party: hard. For more details, read the full report below.
Being a cradle of civilization according to locals, this country piqued our interest in many aspects, so trying everything first-hand is something we eagerly awaited for quite some time. Is Uzbekistan as goose as they say? Is it worth being a place for the new Golden Goose branch? Let’s find out in our in-depth review!
Nothing tells better about a GEO than its places of power. How else are you supposed to know what users from there are into? As it turns out, Uzbek users are mad about fancy gateways and giant sky-blue domes. Make sure to remember that when making creatives for your campaigns, especially adult ones. Dome-shaped and perky, no sag.
Samarkand was built by Amir Timur, also known as Tamerlane as the centerpiece of his expansive empire and the Silk Road. Having only sandstone bricks, gold and blue dye at his disposal, this guy achieved some truly remarkable builds that leave people in awe to this day.
To pay our respects, the Goose gang started off with visiting a resting place of Timur, The Gūr-i Amīr Mausoleum. We have to admit, even in the afterlife, the man has a sense of style. The entirety of his tomb is lined with elaborate patterns of gold, and as a gold-loving bunch, we highly dig that.
After saying hi to Timur, we left to see the key spot of Samarkand, the Registan square. What’s so special about this square? Only that it was the main trade and education center of its time. Think today’s Silicon Valley — pretty cool, huh? The square is surrounded by the three madrasahs built for people to exchange knowledge about geese and stuff, and practice religious wisdom, which we have also thoroughly explored. Also, a perfect place for a group photo.
For the second day in Samarkand, our destination was The Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Towering over the central bazaar, it’s really massive, and just as all nearby madrasahs, adorned with beautiful mosaics, only on a bigger scale. Walking into its inner yard feels like stepping into a home of a giant, the whole GG flock was deeply impressed.
Next up was Shah-i-Zinda, a complex of 20 beautiful and sacred structures. That’s where we were offered to test our faith by counting the steps it takes to get to the top. And let us tell ya, doing so after the GG late night party is indeed a test. In the end, the numbers were off across the team. Better luck next time.
Little did we know that where’s one climb, there’s another. The Hodja Daniyar Mausoleum turned out to be sitting at quite the elevation as well. That sounded like a bad idea at first, but we got to rejuvenate our strength in the holy spring at the foot of the mausoleum, and at the top, we were greeted by a beautiful 500 year old pistachio tree as well as a cool story.
As legend has it, Hodja Daniyar was a prophet known in every religion and famous for advocating islam throughout the area. When Amir Timur brought his remains to Samarkand, he decided to build a mausoleum at the very place his goose (or was it his horse?) stopped walking. Now, this might sound crazy, but over the centuries, the grave got longer and longer, currently reaching 18 meters. One long goose must be buried there. We’ve also stumbled upon some mysterious-looking door at the top. Guess we’ll never know ehat’s behind it.
First, we arrived at the Ark of Bukhara. Once an impregnable fortress, now it houses museums and serves as the key landmark for the city. Our team was all over the place checking out the inner rooms and looking down from the bulky sandstone walls. Really nice place to check out. Ancient Uzbek geese knew how to properly protect the city.
After the fortress, we stopped by Po-i-Kalan, which consists of the Kalan Mosque, the Kalan Minaret, and the Mir-i-Arab Madrasah. What’s cool about this place is galleries consisting of 288 columns and 208 domes on top of them. Walking through these atmospheric galleries was one of the most memorable experiences of the trip.
We ended our tour for the day by visiting all the spots located nearby, including Maghoki Attori Mosque, Lab-i Hauz and the famous Bukhara trading domes, where everyone shopped for traditional swag and souvenirs.
On the final day, we ended our excursions with a visit to the countryside emir residence, Sitorai Mohi-Hosa Palace. The compound is built on a beautiful piece of land with lush gardens populated by peacocks and other exotic birds, but we would like to see more geese. Anyway, just walking around there was an adventure by itself. And, of course, we couldn’t pass by the decorated buildings fit for kings.
Our first activity was learning the ropes of making special tree bark paper. First, the bark gets boiled in a giant pot, then the resulting mush gets beaten to a literal pulp by a wooden mallet that is powered by a waterwheel. Finally, the pulp gets dissolved in water, spread over a mesh and then dried. While all this happened without our input, the team got to do the final polishing with special stones.
Right after papermaking, we got to cooking. The final meal of the first day had to be prepared by our own hands, so we absolutely couldn’t have messed it up. It was mostly cutting carrots, so the plov turned out good anyway.
On our way from Samarkand to Bukhara we stopped by in Gʻijduvon, where we learned about the signature pottery and even took part in ruining some perfectly normal pieces of clay, oh well. However, at the same place, we got to participate in the process of making the traditional bread, which turned out to be very good.
Let’s begin with the most iconic dish, plov. It is impossible to describe the taste of the real Uzbek plov, you need to go there and try it yourself. Seriously, it’s so good that hopping in and out of Uzbekistan just for a dinner is totally worth it. The perfectly cooked rice with the right amount of spices and the lamb melting in the mouth is a heavenly experience. Even our mad cooking skillz couldn’t spoil it.
Another delicious signature dish is samsa. It looks like a pastry pocket with meat or vegetable filling, and it actually tastes like one! The team couldn’t get enough of these buns filled with lamb and pumpkin, and had them almost every day.
One can’t go to Uzbekistan and not have some kind of skewered meat. Either cube-shaped pieces or kebab-style, the meat is cooked over an open fire and has a distinct smoky flavor to die for. The meat is also often sprinkled with lamb fat, which is an acquired taste, but once you get into it, it’s hard to go back.
As for desserts, we often had fresh fruit, which is a perfect way to finish a meal consisting mostly of dough and meat. The highlight was a melon, though. Juicy and sweet, there’s something special about Uzbek melons, definitely a must try.
Partying is something Golden Goose prides itself in. We’ve been throwing explosive parties left and right for our partners, and love the nightlife ourselves. To give you an idea, we had late-night parties at the end of every single day, which were already packed full of activities.
The pools in both hotels were serving as the venue, and although the one in Bukhara was dry, the parties, on the contrary, were far from that. In fact, if you combine the amounts of beer and wine we consumed, you could actually make up for the missing liquid in the pool.
So, did we enjoy our time together? Yes. Is Uzbekistan worthy to be called Goosebekistan? Definitely. This place is awesome for group tours and partying alike: tasty food, friendly people, lots of things to see, great service, and everything you can imagine is on a decent level.
Tons of stories we will be retelling to each other throughout the year, and tons of those we will be embarrassed to mention, but overall, it’s been a great trip!