Day 3 - Kazan

Trip Start Jun 05, 2010
Trip End Jun 20, 2010

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Flag of Russia  , Central Russia,
Monday, June 7, 2010

Our first breakfast on board was taken as the train rolled into Kazan station. Here we met our first local guide Luba (we had local guides in all cities we toured – and an earphone transmitter system that enabled us to stray from the group and still not miss the information) and were also greeted by a girl in traditional costume offering us chap chap, a sugary sweet and integral part of the local Muslim ceremonial life. Kazan is capital of the semi-autonomous region of Tataristan and marks the northernmost extent of Islam on Russian soil. We took in the white hilltop Kremlin in Kazan, seat to the regional governor and also site of Kazan's very own leaning tower, the Ascension Cathedral (used as grain store during communist times) and the brand new and stunningly beautiful Kul Sharif Mosque. Oh, and of course we learnt that Kazan is Russia’s sporting capital, boasting the nation’s football, basketball and ice hockey champions.

After a stroll through town, also popping into St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral, our stop in Kazan ended with a scenic boat trip accompanied by soaring terns on the mighty Volga River, which is as broad as a major lake here.

Between our first Russian shi (cabbage soup) for lunch and beef Stroganow for dinner we watched a documentary on the last Romanov Tsar Nicholas II in the dining car, which had been converted into an art deco style cinema – quite atmospheric. Nicholas II was a weak ruler and was partly to blame for some of the public unrest against his regime that led to the Russian Revolution. The movie also featured the evil priest Rasputin who strongly influenced the Tsarina Alexandra. In 1918, during the civil war, Nicholas and his family were murdered by the communists in Yekaterinburg, our next stop. 
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