Volga Boatman Episode 3: Kazan and Ulyanovsk
Next up on the Volga trip was Kazan, the almost equal-parts Muslim and Christian capital of Tatarstan, an autonomous republic within Russia. This even sleepier provincial city (notice a trend here?) features the biggest Mosque in Europe and a local cuisine that’s “spicier” than normal Russian fare, meaning you just might feel a slight tingle on your tongue as whatever greasy portion of meat slides down it.
I tried the “konina,” or barbecued horse, and it was excellent. It didn’te even seem strange after a local’s simple explanation: “You have a lot of cows, so you eat beef. We have a lot of horses.” Then again, you can’t ride a cow, or do much more than poke it with a stick or, in our modern era, cut a hole in its side and get a eyewitness view into the digestion of cud.
The next day we headed to Ulyanovsk, birthplace and childhood home of Lenin, who grew up in a provincial-gentry family.
We had a great time checking out the house where Lenin was raised, the school where Lenin studied, the park where Lenin did calisthenics, the secluded grotto where Lenin played his v-card (we can at least speculate) …