Day 34. Kazan. Tuesday 20th June

HAPPY BIRTHDAY  Charley!!!! Yay. 7 Today,   Charley is the eldest of my daughter Sarah’s two children. Charley is a very determined and strong willed young lady, just like her Mum..:)

We have had some interesting experiences in Kazan. Our hotel is in a residential street, or unpaved alleyway, to be more precise, and in a unprepossessing residential block. Being starving, last night, we asked the receptionist for directions to a restaurant. Just down the road was a totally Russian place. No English spoken by any of the staff and no menu in anything but Russian. No problem, Google Translate came to our aid. We thought we would keep it simple. 2 beers, chicken, vegetables and potatoes, please. We were presented with 2 large and very good beers and a big plate of salad – cucumber, tomato, and onion with a very nice dressing and a bowl of chips each! This was followed by a plate of chargrilled vegetables – mushrooms, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes and a plate of barbecued chicken and some very tasty bread. R1400 or £18 or $35.

After dinner at about 2130, we set off in search of tools (so Dennis could do some maintenance on the Land Rover). The hotel had recommended a shop, but we could not locate it. We stopped at a kiosk selling mobile phones to ask the young guy for directions. He spoke a little English and said he would take us. Promptly closing up his kiosk he took us to his car and off we went. About 5 minutes later we pulled up at a shop selling every tool imaginable.  Dennis had the tools he wanted and Ramon drove us back to our hotel. He was totally fascinated by the Land Rover and wanted to see and learn everything about it. Incredible at that time of night, one can buy anything you want and this lovely young guy went out of his way to help us.

It is the people you meet along the way on these trips that make them so enjoyable. This morning we had a fascinating conversation over breakfast (politics mainly, of course) with two Iranian guys. In their 50”s, they have lived in the US for 40 years, but still fervently support “their” team. Obviously serious fans, they had been to Brazil 4 years ago for the last World Cup. One of them even knew about New Zealand’s 2014 W C performances – getting through without losing a game.

After breakfast Dennis did some work on the Land Rover while I caught up with some online admin. It was a wet morning and we had intended to get the metro into the centre of town. First we had to stock up on food from the supermarket just down the road. When we came out of the supermarket it was pouring, so we decided to drive into the centre instead. This proved to be very easy and we found parking in a car park right next to the Kremlin. The Kremlin is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Inside the walls were small stalls selling souvenirs an handicrafts, with the sellers dressed in local Tatar costume. Some were playing local musical instruments. It was all quite innocent and un-touristy and there was no charge to enter anything. All specially put on for the World Cup. Wow, what a magnificent city and such a wonderful atmosphere. Spanish and Iranian fans everywhere, sightseeing before the game tonight. Everyone laughing and dressed in their team’s colours. Every city we come to seems to surpass the previous one in terms of spectacular buildings. Kazan is beautiful. A mix of European and Asian. The most incredibly stunning Kul Sharif Mosque with its turquoise minarets as well as Cathedrals and pretty Government buildings.

Mosque and converts?..:)

At about 1500 we set off for Perm. Google maps offered a faster route than our Sat Nav. Not long out of the city we were pulled over by a policeman. He was very friendly, however, and thought we were French. He looked at my passport and we said no, “Angelsk”. I think Dennis’s passport confused him totally. He gave them back laughing and waved us on. It was an excellent road for over 150kms, but I was a bit worried about the direction Google maps seemed to be taking us. However, we have turned off on to a smaller road where we have seen Perm signposted.
Now we have pulled off into a boggy forest where we are hidden deep in the trees for the night. Having cooked a reasonable meal of  chicken marinated with harissa and oregano, with olives and mini tomatoes followed by fruit salad with yogurt, we are ready to retire for the night.

It’s great to get your comments. Keep them coming!

Forest Hotel

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  1. Short Wheel Base


    You’re close to where I got off the train and stayed – Chelyabinsk.
    My Russian girlfriend was part Tatar; kindness was seen as weakness.
    I met a semi-retired Yankee oilman in Russia, who was there as a pipeline-management consultant, because his 401k retirement savings plan had been lost in the stock market crash. I felt at the time I should have taken the fork in the road and asked him to teach me what he knew; I may still be there now… twenty years later. With a beard, spending Summer in a log dasha in Baikal, reading about a Defender hiccuping-across the Steppe.

    • I suspect it’s a very very different country to 1996. Will be massively different again in another twenty.
      Sadly, they’ll be no more Defenders..:)

  2. Hi bro and Jen, you certainly sound like you are having a good time. Dennis, you may have heard but if not, Ritchies bought out Naked Bus and Mana Bus, and shut them down. Recognise someones hand there? Petes funeral today, Ken back tomorrow. Keep up the adventures.

    • Hi Bro, thanks, yes, Kevin sent me a note last night. I sure recognise the hand. Bit of a scandal really!

  3. Dennis and Jen,
    Thought of it. Joan and I spent an hour or so on friday @ Londsdale. You stayed there a few years ago and we gathered u up for a visit. Nice atmosphere. Will return soon. had a visit with Bob Bowes on the weekend; he now has your blog address. You have more stamina than I can imagine. Enjoy. Bill

    • Hi Bill and Joan. Yes,we remember the hotel in Lonsdale. We stayed there a couple of times.
      Tell us about your Swedish trip, Bill? Hope Bob and Elizabeth are both well. Love Jen and Dennis

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