Saturday, February 20, 2016
Last week was the Russian holiday Defender of the Fatherland Day, or better known as Men's Day so I had Tuesday off. For a few days the school couldn't decide if they were going to give us that Monday off too, and so A and I started making plans to visit Kazan. Unfortunately, they decided to make Monday a work day, but, luckily, another teacher said she would cover my Monday night class for me (Thanks, Elizabeth!). So that gave me four days off. We left Ufa at 6 am on Saturday and took a bus to Kazan. It didn't feel long going there because it was so early and we gained two hours.
I wasn't able to fall asleep on the bus because I have trouble sleeping in any position other than my stomach. We stayed at Crystal Hotel, and while I'm all about traveling cheap and staying at hostels we thought it best that we stay in a hotel because A still had to work. I was really nervous about staying here because the reviews weren't that great. Plus, it was really cheap for a hotel, and usually cheap hotels = crappy motels. Surprisingly, our room looked almost brand new. I was most surprised by how modern the bathroom looked. We also had a nice view of the train station, and despite our location on the busy rode with the train station right across we didn't hear any outside noise.
We were both really hungry when we arrived so after we dropped our stuff off and sat for a second we walked across the street to Добрая Столовая. Honestly, if it were up to me I wouldn't have even looked twice at this place, but we tried it. Boy, were we blown away. It looks like a hole in the wall but it was SO cheap and the food was good. It was so good that we visited it SIX times our four days in Kazan. Before I went to Mexico I remember reading about the street food and one blogger mentioned that you know the food won't make you sick if you see businessmen going because they can't afford to get sick. At this cafe all types of people came, and no matter what time we went it was always packed. We both got meat and potatoes (a very generous helping), soup, and a drink for about $4 for the entire meal! It was more food for one meal than you'd get for $4 in the USA. There were so many different food options too. I doubt anyone would speak English, but you can always do what I do and point to what you want, say спасибо (spasiba), and hope they don't ask you anymore questions. Okay, I'll stop talking about this cafe now.
Kazan Kremlin which was closer to our hotel than we were expecting. We took in some of the sites from far away. It's amazing how the wall of the old city is still standing. I always try to imagine what it would be like living in such a time where you lived inside a city wall. Might be real sooner or later though if Trump is elected President, but I digress...
Bauman Street. This is the most famous tourist street in the city. As we were walking A spotted a Museum of Illusions that we decided to go in. I will talk about it more in my next post. We then walked to the end of the street. I was really tired and exhausted from waking up early and the long bus ride that we decided to take a bus back to our hotel around 7. We stopped at the store to get some dessert and juice. I stayed up a little longer, but I was so tired that as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out like a light. I don't think I ever fell asleep so quickly in my life!