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Suzdal to Nizhny Novgorod

semi-overcast 16 °C

St. Petersburg is ten hours behind us as the tracks lie, but we’ve barely scratched the surface of this enormous country. Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s 4th largest city, is much closer to Europe in every respect than it is to the end of the line at Vladivostock, and we could be in Milan or Paris if not for the language. But our first stop was at Suzdal – the city that time forgot when it was abandoned in favour of Moscow as the capital. This quaint city has streets of ornately adorned wooden houses…
Windmills in the outdoor museum of wooden architecture…
Tree lined boulevards reminiscent of Languedoc and Roussillon…
And more convents and monasteries than a Tuscan could shake a calzone at…
We ate in the Archbishop’s 13th century dining hall and for the first time felt we were experiencing true Russian cuisine. Borscht for lunch. And for dinner: red-caviar stuffed blinis, followed by fried pike with cheese-topped sautéed potatoes for him, and a local pork and potato dish for her. It was well presented wholesome food, but it wasn’t cheap. Eating out in Russia so far has cost about the same as at home and unless prices ease up we might have to join the bread lines when we get to Siberia.

Now for a mini quiz. (answers at the bottom of page – no cheating).

Nizhny Novgorod is Russia’s 4th largest city:
A) 10 points if you knew that.
B) 10 points if you know the city’s Soviet name.
C) 10 points for naming the dissident scientist exiled here from 1980-1986.
D) 10 points if you know Nizhny’s famous connection to Vancouver.
While you’re thinking about that, here’s a look at the ritzy pedestrianised shopping street in the centre of town…

Russian is unnecessary here - most of the stores and brands are exactly the same as in London or Vancouver. Everything is recognizable and many products are sold in English packaging without a word of Russian. This could be Frankfurt or Bristol as chic young women, cigarette in one hand, cellphone in the other, totter in tight skirts and painfully high heels along the elegant boulevards and up-market malls.
Nizhny is most famous for its 16th century Italian built fortress on the banks of the Volga River, (and, disappointingly, we have yet to hear a rendition of “The Song of the Volga Boatmen’ by the Red Army Choir). Here’s the fortress – now a government building and a WWII museum…
As for the quiz:
A) Bet you'd never heard of Nishny Novgorod before. 10 points if you had.
B) Gorky.
C) Andrei Sakharov – the nuclear phycisist.
D) In 1937 Valery Chkalov was the first person to fly solo from Moscow to Vancouver via the North Pole. He, along with Maxim Gorky, was born in Nizhny and this enormous statue overlooking the Volga is a tribute to him…
Now we are packing our bags for an overnight train to Kazan - the ancestral home of the Tartars. Meet us there under the station clock at twelve tomorrow.

Posted by Hawkson 21:58 Archived in Russia

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I like the sound of your din dins - too bad it's not inexpensive. Busy Tour weekend and the weather is still warm and sunny! Gobble Gobble to you both.

by Joyce Babula

Good morning dear friends. The church bells have been ringing exuberantly, as they do in the mornings, and throughout the day. They are sending good wishes to both of you for another wonderful day. Xxoo Trudy

by taboyle

I accidentally pushed the unsubscribe link. Please subscribe me again. I thoroughly enjoy reading your travel reports.

by Ute Ewert

Very informative and interesting. I wonder what luggage you needed to undertake such a lengthy tour

by David Henderson

I had heard of Gorky in my old red days, but didnt know there was a city named after him. I am wondering what the people are like here other than the ones in tight skirts and high heels. Do they like their government now? jean (the photos are fabulous!

by Jean

Hi folks. In answer to your questions.
David - Believe it or not we are carrying luggage for 6 months in two 15kgs (33lb)bags. We cannot take more because we have 20 flights planned later in the trip and many airlines have very limited weight restrictions. We have clothing for the weather in 10 countries from the Siberian snows to the tropics of Indonesia.
Jean - the people all seem very happy. They are certainly leading a very high standard of living as far as we can tell. The restaurants, hotels and stores are busy, (except for the highest end places). Nothing is cheap, apart from gas and cigarettes, yet everyone seems to have money. Russia today looks in a lot better shape than the US.

by Hawkson

How beautiful to see all this, and to have the opportunity to learn a little more about Russia.

by Janet

A happy, very nontraditional Thanksgiving weekend to you two. So great to get these snapshots, in words and pictures, of Russia. luv

by Sharron

Wow. All this is an eye-opener. Thought it would be all birch and tundra punctuated by dour towns. Your travels broaden other's minds. Surprised too that you get off and on the train freely and frequently. Love these entries. Keep em coming.

by Tom

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