Hear about travel to Russia along the Volga River as the Amateur Traveler talks to travel writer Mark Baker about this destination that he recently wrote about.
Mark says, “I was asked to do this region of Russia for Lonely Planet so I traveled there in the Spring and Summer of 2017. And by the Volga River what I mean is the section that goes from Nizhny Novgorod running south to the Caspian Sea at the city of Astrakhan. That distance is about 1200 miles. I think the Volga River is not a destination for first-time visitors to Europe and it’s not even a destination for first-time visitors to Russia. Those people will want to go to Moscow and St. Petersburg. So the Volga traveler that we’re aiming for is someone who has seen Russia and wants to see more of Russia.”
A number of the cities that Mark highlights on this route have a large fortress or a Kremlin which were built as the Russians conquered further and further south on the river as they took back the region from invaders from the eastern steppes. Much of the historic part of the city including churches and museums can still be found inside these medieval walls. The Kazan Kremlin, in particular, is a UNESCO world heritage site.
More recent history can also be found along this route from Lenin’s hometown to Stalin’s old bunker to the apartment of physicist and activist Andrei Sakharov. The city of Volgograd (then Stalingrad) marks the high water mark for the conquest by Hitler’s armies in WWII. It has spectacular monuments and somber cemeteries.
One of the strangest areas you will find not far from the southern part of the river is Kalmykia which is the only region in Europe that is predominantly Buddhist.
Learn more about this surprising area of Russia and see if Mark can lure you to do more exploring along the Volga.
A Case for Travel to Russia – This Week in Travel #234
Memorial Apartment of Andrei Sakharov
Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin
Kazan Kremlin (UNESCO)
Ivan the Terrible
The Chak-chak Museum in Kazan
Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of the town-island of Sviyazhsk (UNESCO)
The Old Apartment, Restaurant
Battle of Stalingrad
Rossoshka Memorial Cemetery
World Cup on the Volga
Elista: Red Pagodas in Russia
Along the Volga: riding the rails through Russia
Hello Mr. Christensen. I’ve enjoyed listening to many of your Podcasts over the years, however the latest on Merida and the Yucatan is my favourite to date.My wife and I have travelled extensively throughout Mexico, a country we love, and have visited Merida 3 times for at least 2 weeks per visit.There are so many things to love about Merida, it is truly a city of wonderful people and special Cultural and Historical places to visit. If possible I suggest that anyone spend at least 1-2 weeks exploring the City, since there is so much to see, do, and eat.I concur with your guests in recommending the Merida English Library House Tour. The MEL tour includes a brief history lesson into Merida, and the reasons why homes were built a particular way, with specific materials (many building materials came from Europe, instead of Mexico or the US). We learned so much about Merida, just from attending this tour.There are many musical events ongoing in the Teatro Peon Contreras, the Cultural Olimpo, and intimate concert venues throughout the City, often for free or minimal cost, so one will never be bored for musical choices.The food, as mentioned, is consistently superb, no matter what you would like to eat. Our favourite cuisine memory is when we took a Cooking Class with a Mayan family, and learned how to cook Salbutes and Panuchos.These are some of our Merida highlights, but the biggest thrill for me, being a true Canadian, was going Ice Skating in an Indoor Rink at a Merida Mall, while it was 30 degrees (C) outside, and then having a cold cerveza afterwards! Heaven!In closing, thank-you for an episode that brings back so much about a place we love and hope to visit for at least a fourth time.And most importantly, thanks for providing an excellent Podcast series for many years.Regards–Don
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