Country #9 Day 58-63
After an off-roading adventure at Aral it was time to bid good bye to khazakstan, and say a hello to Russia.
Coming into Russia was what you’d expect – wet and icy cold weather. And appropriately enough through a city named for a river, but the bigger attraction is the other river. Samara sits at the confluence of the Samara and Volga rivers, about a thousand kilometers from Moscow. It was raining and cold when we arrived; the weather was not exactly hospitable.
Samara is the beer capital of Russia according to the locals. The other big attraction is that the city – or locales around – pass for the Woodstock of Russia, home to annual music festivals like the Grushin Festival and Rock nad Volgograd. Nobody was playing when we came in there however
The other ‘famous’ thing of interest is Stalin’s bunker where the Russian leader in World War II used as his HQ. To think it was a secret in the war years. It’s about 100 feet below the ground. They say Hitler’s bunker in Berlin was less than 50’feet below ground. They still keep it operational, too.
A return to the drinking part of this story (though vodka would have been better). The city brewery produces the most popular brand of beer: Zhigulevskoye. Try that for a tongue-twister. If you can pronounce that accurately after a couple of mugs of the brew, we’ll buy you a week’s supply. Even though the beer is made in other places, Samarans are convinced only their version is the real thing.
Ryazan – also written as Rayazan and the other city we went to in the way to Moscow – is also situated a river: the Oka. Famous for many monasteries that dot the landscape, there’s not much else of historical interest in Ryazan other than some architecturally interesting churches. Like Samara, it was cold; for us hot blooded Indians, too cold. You could raise a shot to these cities. That’s one way to get warm in Samara.