• New Times
  • 2002-12-01 NTI-No. 012
  • Size: 15.4 Kbytes .
  • Pages:56-58.
  • Words: 2763

Travel. ZHIGULI, RUSSIA'S BARBIZON

Author: By Georgy Osipov

The Volga River seemed a piece of music to me... It began with the plaintive tunes of endless lines stretching to Uglich and Yaroslavl; grew into beautiful melodies in Ples and Cheboksary that could be heard as far as Kazan and then suddenly burst into such a wild dance, cutting to the quick, that we could not help dancing ourselves - with our eyes, hands and pencils - and were ready to start squatting and kicking our legs out in the typical Russian fashion... From a letter of the artist Repin to the mayor of Samara Pyotr Alabin, 1895

The mid-Volga towns have one oddity. You need only to walk away from the arterial roads to some side street and enter a tiny courtyard - and you seem to land in another century. This is exactly what happens to you in the city of Samara. If you go down to the Volga from the highest district to the place bearing the strange name "Frunze Meadow", you forget at once that you are in the financial and business capital of the Volga Region. The ubiquitous stalls with beer and eatables vanish somewhere. The steps, trodden down by many thousand feet, lead you to a landing-stage that is old, wooden and squeaks like the floors of an old manor-house. A little slogging boat is steaming up to the landing-stage, puffing hard and hiding in wreaths of smoke. Inside there are only worn out couches and hard benches for the passengers' convenience.

The older generation of metropolitan residents alone remember such midget boats furrowing the Moskva River, and as you see the date on the metal board indicating when this little boat was launched, you say automatically: "A monument to the technical architecture of the middle of the last century". And as to how it goes about, this floating wonder resembles an old car from the well-known song of the Beatles.

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