I am now in Kazan, capital of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan situated due east of Moscow on the river Volga. I arrived last night after a 28 hour train journey from St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg was marvellous, although I think it would have been more sensible if my friend had arranged a heated apartment for me instead of the ice-box I ended up in. This was made all the worse by the city getting its first snow of the winter when I was there. But that aside, and the two days of appalling weather, St. Petersburg was well worth the visit, and I intend to undertake a longer visit in the summer.
The architecture is amazing, and it seems that turning every corner within the Fontanka district presents you with another spectacular building to marvel at. I have dozens of pictures, many taken during the one day when the sky was blue and the sun bright, which I will post on my return to Dubai. However, no photo could do justice to the interior of St. Isaac’s cathedral, which left me speechless in awe. I am told the Hermitage Museum has a similar effect, but sadly I didn’t have time to visit this, and will have to put it off until the summer. Although the weather was cold, though not particularly by Russian standards, walking around the city taking in the sights was an absolute pleasure. I was also fortunate enough to be able to visit a friend in Lysee Nos, a settlement on the outskirts of St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland, where I enjoyed a Russian banya and a large quantity of vodka.
So I am in Kazan for a week, and was intending to get down to Samara for a day or so but the train timetables are probably not going to allow this to happen. The apartment I am staying in, the home of a Kazakh friend and her husband, is superb and I am looking forward to a week relaxing and enjoying what the city has to offer. I will have access to the internet throughout this time, so I may be posting as and when I see or do something interesting.