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Day 57: Samara

June 11th, 2011 6 comments

On the suggestion of one of my couchsurf hosts, I came to Samara, which is off the usual tourist track and not even mentioned in the Lonely Planet except for being a point on the map. As with most unplanned things in my trip, this really was meant to be.

I’ve been staying at the JK Hostel, which is one of the best hostels I’ve ever been in.

I’ve met couchsurfers who have similar interests in theater, volunteering, and folk dancing (Irish, specifically), and had long conversations with an Englishman (who is from Israel but grew up in Tunisia) about esoterism. Samara itself, is a fascinating city. It’s one of the major cities on the Volga river.

It has a lot of history and is very proud of it’s role in aviation manufacturing. There is even a Soyuz rocket that was reconstructed after it fell back to earth and is now a museum display.

Samara has it’s own local beer, жигулевское, even though it also has factories for brewing other “imported” beers.

There are plenty of old buildings, some of which you can sneak into.

There are also very modern buildings like the new train station pictured here at night.

By the way, this picture was taken from the window of the grandmother of a CS host. She worked for the railway company for 40 years and still is very proud of the rails. This apartment is practically on top of the rail lines. Incidentally, this babushka does needlework and she gave me a wonderful gift of her own making.

And I think I may be becoming a little Russian. I found absolutely nothing odd about finishing a bottle of wine with CS friends while we waited under a stoop for the pouring rain to stop. We happened to be carrying a couple of bottles for dinner later that evening.

Final note about the mouse (whom I still can’t seem to escape) – using a Russian-English coloring book of the Disney characters is very helpful for learning simple words and sentences as well as communicating through pop culture. Alternatively, balloons and laughter can also be used universally for bringing people together. I’ve taken to carrying balloons on me all the time. They’re great icebreakers on trains when there are children around.

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The full set on Flickr.

Categories: Cities traveled Tags: ,