Don’t drink Vodka with Russians…

Don’t ever drink Vodka with the Russians.  Or, the Ukrainians either.  It’s like going jogging with a world-class marathon runner.  No matter how tough you think you are, you just can’t keep up.  It never turns out good and usually ends with a  blinding headache in the morning.  If you’re due for a long bus ride the next day, this is never good…

Earlier that evening, after touring the Kazan Kremlin, I was eating at a local restaurant, trying some of the local food and beer.

A birthday party group came and sat next to me.  They asked if they could use my “extra” chairs at my table.  I agreed and when they heard my accent, they asked where I was from.  After I told them, they invited me to join their party.  It turned out that three of the college aged students were studying English in the aim of someday becoming interpreters.  They were quite eager to have a native speaker to talk with.  As the night progressed, toast after toast was proposed and the champagne was followed by vodka and before I knew it, I was being dragged along to the local disco for some dancing.

As with all of the other disco clubs I have been to in Russia & Ukraine, I cannot quite describe the atmosphere.  I think that the closest thing to it in the United States is one of the clubs in Los Vegas or perhaps New York.  There is a lively atmosphere, a lot of dancing, and the action continues until sunrise.  I never make it past 2am as I just get too tired – LOL.  My new friends gave me a ride back to my hotel and I tried to get some sleep for my journey to the city of Yoshkar Ola in the Mari El province.

Early the next morning, I was reading the menu.  It describes the different kinds of coffee that are available.  Tell me you don’t see a little antagonism there…  LOL

The Cafe Americano  description reads, “For those who love especially weak coffee.”  Did the Russians just call us weak?  LOL  Sounds like a bit of latent Moscow/Washington DC rivalry.


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The Kazan Kremlin

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According to my tour book, the Tatar people who were originally conquered by the Mongols joined forces and eventually gained autonomy.  Ruling as the Golden Horde, the capital was established at Kazan.  Ivan the Terrible conquered the region for Russia in 1552.  Tatarstan is rich in natural resources and maintains a distinct political and cultural distance from Moscow.  There is relative harmony between the Tatar Muslims and Orthodox Christian Russians.  The stories of “incidents” that I hear about seem no more dire than ethnic or religious intolerance in America.  Throughout my visits in Kazan, I meet mixed religion couples.  Groups of friends are often Muslim and Christian.  I think to myself that much of the world could learn a lesson from this city.  I posed for a photo in front of the Kremlin and set my camera on a tripod.  It took many attempts to get a “decent” photo.  The entire time, the capital police kept a close eye on me.

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Outside the main entrance is a statue dedicated to a Tatar man, Musa Dzhalil who was killed by the Nazis.  It is a beautiful sculpture and is the focal point of many meetings, photos, and tour groups.

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I see tourists from all over central Russia visiting Kazan and have several opportunities to talk to people from Tatarstan and from nearby republics.  Inside the Kremlin wall there are government buildings, cathedrals, the large Kul Sharif Mosque (the Imam who defended the city from Ivan the Terrible), statues, and beautiful gardens.  Under the corner of one of the Cathdedrals you can see the remains of a Mosque that was knocked down in order to build the Cathedral after the city was conquered by the Russians.  It was one of the nicest capital complexes that I have visited.  Inside the Cathedrals and Mosques, women are required to cover their heads; scarves are offered for “loan” and wraps for the waist if the woman is wearing a short skirt or dress.

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Kazan

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I found a very nice hotel just outside the train station.  It had wireless internet, nice rooms, and a great breakfast.  I took a picture of the young lady who served the breakfast; she always had a friendly smile and tried her best to talk with me despite our language difference.  After breakfast I headed into town.  As there seems to be no organized dog “birth control,” there are always dogs running around Russia.  Some are quite cute, others are very aggressive.  Parking seems to be tight in Kazan with many cars parking on the sidewalk.

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I made a stop at the Peter and Paul Cathedral.  It was quite beautiful and had a nice view of the city.  Like many places in Russia, single post cards are not sold.  You must buy a book of one or two dozen.  After the cathedral I made my first visit to the post office to mail my post cards.  Then, I went post card hunting.  Most cards had writing on the back, but under the front gate of the Kremlin I found some very nice cards.  Later, after my tour of the city, I had a nice lunch and sent post cards home to friends and family.

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Kazan is an amazing city.  Over a thousand years old, it boasts a history that rivals many of the great cities of the world.  The city is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan; a republic of mixed Russian and Tatar people.  The main street leading from the Kremlin houses the government of Tartarstan and policemen were posted on each corner.  There seemed to be politicians and government people scurrying back and forth from office to office.

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Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

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