We’ve been taking it pretty easy since St. Petersburg, gearing our energy (and bank) levels up for our mid-August trip to Northern France. However, it’s the heart of summer, and we need to take advantage while we can. Winter is coming… eventually, so there’s plenty of time for HBO and reading Game of Thrones when the snow starts to fall.
This weekend we’re going to the historical city of Bolgar by ferry, but as I only had one day off last weekend, it took Gulnara once again to relieve us of our tedium and show us some cool Kazan sights. This day we took a bus about 20 minutes out of town to The Church of All Religions, which is just about what it sounds like. It’s a Russian-style cathedral with a mishmash of religious motifs from all around the world- from Shintoism to Judaism, Buddhism to Catholicism, Russian Orthodox to Islam, and many others in between.
This was an artist’s life’s work, but he unfortunately passed away (one rumor- shot in a dispute), leaving his family to complete his idiosyncratic church. They’re working as donations come in, hence the uncompleted look of the place, but even in its current state it’s a simply gorgeous building, bursting with color and different architectural styles.
After this, we took a peek at the nearby Volga, flowing past urban buildup and peaceful green hills dotted with clumps of dachas and the gilded onion domes of the odd Orthodox church.
When we got back to Kazan, we were invited to a place Gulnara’s been telling us about for awhile with some of the best of two Russian cuisine staples- blini and pelmeni. Blini are crepes essentially, thin but rich pancakes, here topped or filled with all manner of things sweet and savory. I opted for the more traditional seasoned ground beef, with a side of thick, cool sour cream.
Pelmeni are small savory dumplings filled with meat and spices. I had it “Monastery Style”- floating in a broth flavored with mushrooms, with a hearty dollop of- you guessed it- sour cream on the side. After missing sour cream so much in South Korea, this is pretty awesome. Now if only they had cottage cheese that was anything but dry and crumbly here…