Happy 126th Birthday Kostanai!
We sleep in today: With the town's birthday celebration, many of the local businesses are closed or operating on different schedules. The gym does not open until 9. Bob, Alli and I leave the hotel at 9: Bob and I for the gym, Alli for the Internet Cafe, where she will check e-mail and copy photos from our camera to floppy disks so we can make prints for Dana (our birthday gift will be a photo album).
At the gym, it's busier than usual in the exercise area but quiet in the ping-pong room. We work out from 9:10 until 10, then play eleven games in just over an hour. Bob wins the first four, but I take six of the next seven to win the day 6-5. Bob leads overall 116-106.
The weather remains cloudy and comfortable for our walk to the baby home, perfect weather for taking the kids outside. Bob & Beth go first, then we take Molly and Aidan. We walk up and down the street outside the baby home. We're out for 30-40 minutes. Molly falls sound asleep and I hold her head against my chest so it won't roll from side to side while I walk. Aidan is quiet and watchful: He gives his Nuk a workout and holds tightly to Alli's fingers.
Back in the marble room, Molly sleeps soundly until it's time to clean up and take the kids back. It might not sound like much, particulalry since Molly fell asleep, but it's always a great visit when we get to take the kids outside.
We walk back to the hotel. My stomach is not right, and while we have made plans to meet Dana at 4 to wander around town and enjoy the birthday festivities, I spend most of the walk contemplating a nap instead. We get back to the hotel at 3:30, and after relaxing for 1/2 hour, I feel well enough to join the others. The city center and park are very crowded: lots of people and many more vendors than usual, especially those selling kabobs and beer. We stop to watch a few acts in a talent show for children, visit a display of Kazakh urts (their traditional tent-like dwellings), stroll through the park, watch some chess and visit a vendor for VERY cold beers! At 5:30 we adjourn to the Russian Pub for dinner. They have outdoor seating for the occasion and we order kabobs.
After dinner, we walk to Victory Park and the soccer stadium, where a concert is under way. We wander around the stadium listening to the music and people-watching. After a stroll through the park and a look at a particulalry interesting monument - Dana explains it is for Kazakh people exiled and forbidden to return by the Soviets - we set out to walk Dana home. Bob and I pull out early - he's tired and my stomach is not happy again - and the girls carry on without us.
I'm reading and dozing when Alli gets back. She crawls into bed with her book and reads briefly before drifting off. We turn in for good around midnight.