Kazan – the cooking pot [in Tatar language]

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June 23rd 2011
Published: June 21st 2011
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Mosque in Kazan
They call it Instanbul of the Wolga – the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan – where Muslim and Christians, Tatar and Russian meet. During the Soviet times Kazan was the capital of the Tatar Autonomous Republic and enjoyed also after the breakup of the Soviet Union certain sovereignty from Moscow.

Micha picked me up from the train station at 6.20 am – unfortunately the 20min ride to his place was the only time I saw him during the coming 3 days. Consequently, the deep dive into the Tatar culture which I was hoping for didn’t happen. Micha had another CS staying over – Felix, a German guy hitchhiking his way to Siberia – he tried to convince me to come along with him for a while... yeah, not really 😊 However, Felix and I gave it a try at exploring Kazan by ourselves –from a tourist point of view there’s definitely the beautiful kremlin with the mosque, and the ulitsa Baumana – the pedestrian/shopping street of Kazan. Ticked those two and walked a bit into the side streets – we found plenty of fenced
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Nice sight in Kazan ;)
areas – inside completely destroyed buildings. The fences indicate that there’s no money or no intent to take care of those buildings, however they don’t want any people to go in there, get drunk and injure/kill themselves.

A paradox city – the area where Micha lives is full of cranes and construction sites, the buildings in the center on the other hand already fell apart or are slowly falling apart….

Saturday, we made a stroll through Kazan’s main market – we started at one end, went on to cross two or three streets to not even reach the end of it – it’s enormous! The market is located on what is thought to be the Tatar side of the city – this stems from the times when Tsar Ivan banned the Tatar from the eastern side of the centrally located Bulak Canal. Felix was quickly fed up with the busy market, so we decided to get out of there. The street we walked seemed to be something like an Uzbek district; we stopped at a restaurant and had delicious food – not sure how Uzbek it really was – I’d still claim that it is hard to tell
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Kazan falling apart - right behind main pedestrian street...
the ex-Soviet cuisines apart, they all have similar dishes, just with different names .

On Sunday I wanted to catch a boat to a place called Bulgar – said to be the major pilgrimage place for Tatars in search for their roots. I had to realize that I have definitely reached the end of what could be called ‘touristic Russia’ – There is one boat going to Bulgar at 8.30am and one at 6pm. I had to catch the train to Yekaterinburg early next morning, so that idea went down the drain… instead I walked along the Wolga and reached ‘Kazan beach’ 😊 I chilled there from most of the afternoon, listening to music, watching some guys playing beach volley and just enjoying a completely sunny day for a change.

In the evening I wrote Micha to check how I can get a cab to the train station the next morning – he took care of it and today in the morning 6am a Russian Lada picked me up. Pleasant guy - half Tatar, half Russian – told me that it would be anyway hard to find a pure Tatar nowadays, everyone is a mix and something such as different nationalities doesn’t exist for them, everyone is equal. His daughter lives in Milan married to an Italian, he has never visited her, life’s tough. In the Soviet times everything was better – my reaction: ‘’really?’’ – he: ‘’well at least the bread cost 50 kopeek ”. ‘’There is just no stability, whoever rules wants the country to work differently, so it changes all the time and anyway, all this corruption!’’. After 20min we arrived at the train station – 150 roubles !

Additional photos below
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View from Kazan Kreml
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Guy ring the church bells - maybe he's related to the screaming guy in Lausanne???
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In the center of Kazan
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Kazan market

22nd June 2011

Keep it coming!
Sounds like your true Russia exploration begins now... paradox city? hm.. I think I have always thought of entire Russia as a paradox country... extreme income inequality and somewhat strange resource usage & allocation... Curious if the famous Russian spirit is really (still?) there and what exactly has it come to being... really interesting to read! keep it coming!

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