Thursday, September 24, 2015

Kazan (Казань)

We arrived in Kazan yesterday afternoon and immediately fell in love with the place. Physically, it’s beautiful. The city features ornate classical architecture, rich colors, gorgeous vistas, a diverse and friendly populace, delicious food and pretty much everything our hearts might desire. To make it even sweeter, Carrie found a fantastic deal on a couple of hotel rooms at the Nogai hotel. She got such a good deal that we were a little worried, but our rooms are way beyond satisfactory, the staff is nice and the location very convenient.

Just down the street from our hotel we found an Uzbek restaurant, but we ignored it because we were looking for something known only to locals. The folks at the front desk sent us back, saying we should have dinner there. Ooh, this turned out well, indeed. We had a delicious meal in a beautiful environment, served by a funny and highly effective waitress. We liked it so much, we decided to return tonight because we wanted to try one of the dishes they demand a few hours to prepare. We asked them to have one ready at 7 p.m.

So, today we walked some 23,000 steps, touring the Kremlin and taking some walking tours elsewhere from our map. Everywhere we looked, we found stuff we wanted to photograph. We got carried away, of course, but I’ve tried to be a little humble about what I put onto my online photo site. (You’ll have to scroll down past China, Mongolia and Irkutsk to find the Kazan pictures.) The pictures tell most of the story. I can only add something about how much we like this city. We had imagined that Mongolia would be our peak experience on this tour, and it may well be, but Kazan rivals Mongolia for us in terms of overall delight. We're amazed that we don't hear people talking about this place when they name their favorite cities. Carrie and I probably will.

At the end of the day, we returned for our special-order dinner; 2.6 kilograms of meat, sauce and potatoes inside of a beautiful pastry shell. The waitress wanted to sell us 3 kg and told us that 2.5 kg was the minimum. That’s what we shot for. Anyway, we really liked it and we even ate most of it. Nevertheless, we could have shared it easily with a third person. Where were you?

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