Before we set off some people were telling us, that driving through Russia makes no sense and that after Moscow there is going to be absolutely nothing to see anyway. For a short moment we were afraid they might be right, and that civilization really will disappear for good from our sight and there will be nothing more but a never-ending forest. Fortunately the reality proved them wrong pretty quickly. After visiting the capital we decided to check the country side and drive towards Suzdal. We were impressed with the views even before we reached it, but the place itself won us over in few seconds too. It was simply marvelous. I would never thought that words like peaceful and touristic can coexist, but they definitively do in Suzdal.
Since the place is not too big we could use our time to explore all parts of it. And we really enjoyed it! The open street maps on our Garmin turned out to be perfect again, since the navigation showed even the smallest paths leading through the deep grass. Walking through a meadow full of flowers felt wonderful after spending the last few days in the big cities. And the views were fantastic!
Since we have made a very good experience with Godzillas Hostel in Moscow we decided to at least check the one in Suzdal, although we were actually planning to finally do some camping. But when we saw the hostel we couldn't say no to it! It started with a very nice lady at the reception, who turned out to speak polish quite fluently. And then we saw the rooms... I really won't be exaggerating if I say it was the nicest hostel I have ever seen. We were told the owner build it as he wanted to fulfill his dream and create a hostel he would like to stay in himself. If it is so, then I have to say he has a perfect taste! Situated directly at the tiny river, with a huge common room full of fat boys and huge pillows it's as nice and cozy as it gets. Unfortunately it was a bit too hot for us to try the brand new banya and sauna, but they looked great too. If I'll ever manage to go back to Russia I am spending at least a week there!
Luckily the world didn't end after Suzdal neither. We chose Nizny Novgorod as our next stop. The city itself didn't manage to take our breath away, but we have to admit we got a bit spoiled since we left home. Already in the first 2 weeks we saw so many fantastic places that we are getting hard to impress :) But we did like the atmosphere of that place. At the beginning I was a bit afraid of all those big cities which often have over 1 million people, but it seems it is enough to have a river running through and a beach or two in the city center to make them quite relaxed and enjoyable. And the beach in Novgorod really was a nice one. They even have some surfers there! And a great shaslik bar, were “Mister David” managed to make some new friends. A perfect place to spend the night.
The theory with a river and beach seemed to work also in the second city we visited, Kazan. It really was an interesting place, kind of a cultural mixed up where you wonder if you're still in Europe or already in Asia. It is a one huge construction side at the moment and you can see they are doing whatever they can to make the city even more enjoyable. But even so we liked it a lot! I have to admit we lost count of days pretty quickly and didn't even realized that we entered the city on Saturday. We also didn't realize that Kazan is a very popular wedding location meaning that on Saturday the whole city and most important all the hotels are full with young lovers and their guests leaving us and Karossi with no place to sleep. Fortunately our hotel search led us to Hotel Fatima, hiding right behind Marriott Hotel. The very nice English speaking staff not only allowed us to spend a night on their private parking but also let us use the hotel facilities. And so once again we spend a great night with a view on Kremlin. And once again we discovered that there is still a lot too see even long after Moscow!