That first step Eastward

9 Jun


Kazan Kremlin and Mosque

Tuesday, Christine and I made it to Kazan. Though a small step in the scope of this entire project, I feel that this was an encouraging accomplishment. I was able to purchase, all in Russian and with no assistance, train tickets from Moscow to here. I know that to many this probably does not sound like much, but Russian ticket queues and acquisition are actually quite intimidating. The lines are long and close without warning no matter how long you have waited in them. This happened at least five times and was reason for us missing the train we actually intended to take. Beyond that, the women working each ticket station are generally not of a jovial disposition and willing to slow down their speech for a clumsy foreigner. Luckily, the woman at the end of our final line had not been on her shift long and was very polite, despite speaking quickly and wanting to hurry us along. We should have taken a picture of my accomplished grin when those tickets were finally in my hand after nearly 3 hours.


And so, we rode a train through the night and out of Moscow. The city lights faded from the windows until all I could see was blackness behind my reflection. I was hoping for a more daytime ride so that people would be awake to meet and enjoy and the scenery would be visible as we rumbled passed. However, the quiet night was good for collecting my thoughts and projecting on the days to come.


Kazan Kremlin

Kazan is much smaller than Moscow, and for that I am excited. Often if I am not familiar with an area, I feel overly solitary in places where many millions reside. The people are too accustomed to people being everywhere. I do not yet know this place and it is not a small city, by any means, but it was a move in the comfortable direction.


Anyhow, we arrived to good and partially bad news. We discovered an unexpected and pleasant place to stay in the form of a couple, Aidan from Glasgow and Marina from Moscow, with a spare bedroom in their new flat. Further, their friend Maria is intrigued by the project and is willing to accompany us to Kamskiye Polyany (Камские Поляны) for adventure and help in translation. Win! However, this coming weekend is a Tatar holiday where the celebrations apparently get quite wild and rough. We were advised by Maria that, if we like out teeth and cameras, this is not the time to go. For about two weeks.



Aidan, Jhenya, Luke, Christine, and Maria (top row, L to R, Bottom L to R)

So we will move on to Yekaterinburg where we have an exciting contact in a nearby steel town, and visit Kamskiye Polyany on our way back to Moscow. Maria, the wonderful person that she is, has agreed to help us when we return. I am very much looking forward to that. From what I have read, it should be a fascinating town.

With our unexpected free time, Christine and I met up with a fellow traveler named Luke from Britain. The three of us explored the city and met some interesting people. Most memorable was a retired accordion professor who we found fishing in the Kazanka and Volga confluence. I will let Christine write on that, so keep an eye out for her upcoming pictures and post.


I am anxious to get to our first project town and hope that we will have some material of substance very soon. For now, enjoy a few photos.

Our goodbye to Lilya and Siarhei before leaving Moscow


Teeth this way!

Kazan Mosque




















4 Responses to “That first step Eastward”

  1. Derek June 10, 2011 at 5:47 am #

    You didn’t tell me you got this up and running! But it looks nice, and jeeze, I wish I had half your talent for photography. Love the lens flair on that one marriage shot, with the light coming down out of the window. Anyway, what do you think of WordPress? It’s not perfect but I think it makes a nice platform… And how’s DH been for you? I don’t have anything this high-traffic myself.

    Anyway, I hope you’re enjoying the adventure haha. Hearing about things…it makes Korea seem so tame and easy by comparison haha. Buying a train ticket is certainly much easier.

    Until next time~

  2. Trol June 10, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    Oh, why didn’t you ask us to write on a paper the information for ticket in Russian?! Anyway you’re heroes, after a similar ticket-purchasing-adventure one of our guests wrote us a hysteric text that it’s “too crazy!!!” and she’s going to take a hostel 🙂



  3. Christine Armbruster June 11, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Liliya– we should have! However, Tree is quite savvy and was able to do it himself after standing in line for a few hours preparing. We also meant to have you help us make signs for free hitchhiking. ..Oh well. Glad you found us though and thank you again for everything! -Christine

    • Trol June 13, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      Looking forward to meeting you again 🙂
      Good luck with everything!

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