Having a month in a city really does give you time to fully explore it and see everything you can. Here is a list of my favourite things to do in Kazan, if you ever get a chance to visit!
The Soviet Lifestyle Museum (Музей Социалистического Быта)
A museum like no other. This is going to make me seem very bad, but the truth is, this was the only museum I went to see in Kazan. Yes, terrible of me. It's just the beach always seemed like a better idea... and I wanted to get a tan!
This charming little museum is the only one of it's kind in Russia. It is a fun and very interactive little museum where you can try clothes, hats and even toys from the Soviet Era. This little museum is absolutely cluttered with artifacts and it was very interesting to see mother's reminisce on the past and explain to their children about the era they grew up in.
The owner/curator of the museum was a very nice guy, who seemed very passionate about his job and came around to show us how some of the toys were played. Truly a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it! It even has a very nice selection of authentic and replica soviet items (badges, lighters etc.) which make for amazing gifts! I got a beautiful golden lighter with lenin on it. Russian student represent!
Visit the Kremlin
Obviously this goes without saying. If you go to Kazan without seeing the Kremlin, it's like going to Rome and not seeing the colosseum.
The Kremlin used to be the historic citadel of Tatarstan. This mosque, the Kul Sharif was built in 2004 and is currently the biggest mosque in Europe.
This is the leaning Soyembika Tower which dates back to the times of Peter the Great. Apparently the Tatar princess was locked in here and forced to marry the Tsar and when she refused she jumped out... Though this is only what my Russian mentor told me, I'm not a historian!
The view from the Kremlin overlooking the Kazanka river. There are also some museums in the Kremlin about Kazan...which I didn't see...
Swim in the Volga
Almost everyday after school we would run to the nearest producty, pick up some beer and some caviar flavoured crisps and head to the beach to get our tan on. We always went to this (пляж локомотива ) plyazh locomotive which one of my friends' host mother recommended to us. It is this little beach right behind the railway station (you have to cross a bridge thing which goes over the train tracks) and it is pretty much where the locals hang out.
I would seriously recommend that you come in a group and preferably with some guys (if you're a girl). Russian men can be HELLA CREEPY and some may even try and sit with you and cling to you all day. It's not particularly clean (due to cigarette butts) but the water is clean. There are just quite a bit of twigs and leaves but it's nature! Also the water isn't clear, but it's only because the river has a very muddy, squelchy bottom, and so it's just that. No one came out with any extra limbs!
Go to the Circus
Now I don't know about you, but when I thought circus, I thought big tent, red and yellow stripes RA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA CIRCUS, DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA AFRO CIRCUS AFRO CIRCUS AFRO POLKA DOT POLKA POLA DOT and clowns and tigers and shit. Yeah I was kinda right, except fot the tent part because Kazan has an actual circus building! How weird is that?!
It was really nice of my Russian mentor/friend Margarita to come with me to the circus. She was the sweetest friend ever, even though she was assigned to me, she put in so much effort to make sure I settled in and to show me around. Not to mention the humongous bag of gifts she got me! She was just too sweet! <3
Get lost in the Russian forest...on the way to the lake!
So while chatting to locals at the beach and to our russian buddies, we were told of this озеро карьер (oyzera karyer) where the water was supposed to be a beautiful cystal clear blue. So on the last weekend we gathered up as many people from our class as possible for a little adventure to find this lake.
We found directions to get here after finding the coordinates on wikimapia and then throwing them into google maps (55°49'21"N 48°55'26"E) which told us exactly which bus to take from the train station. We were squished on a hot, sticky bus for almost an hour and half, when google map started telling me we were near. Since someone asked the conductor to let us know when to get off, the bus suddenly halted in the middle of this forest and we were told to get off and turn left, even though google maps told me to get off at the next stop. While trying to explain that "computer says no"the whole bus started yelling at us to get off and that it was right... so there we were... in the middle of the woods...
After about 15 minutes we were there. Everyone was alive, happy, and so excited to dunk our sweaty bodies in the freezing water of the lake.
As organizer of this trip, everyone started getting annoyed at me on the journey there as it was long and hard (unlike locomotive) but when everyone was in the water, everyone was absolutely thrilled with the lake, it was everything we asked for and more.
There were also a lot of these crazy sand dune things to run down. Ochyen fun!
Even this horse liked running up and down!!!Also as a word of advice, come prepared, I don't think there are any shops here, so buy your baltika 7s and dill flavoured chips beforehand!
Experience clubbing...Russian style!
Clubbing in Russia was an interesting experience. For starters in Kazan there was one fancy and highly selective club (Luxor) which is great for girls as it's free, but guys have to pay and they have "face control" so they might make up some bullshit excuse and not let you in. Since I was with a couple of guys, they tried to charge us 1000 roubles (for the guys) which they obviously refused.
Luckily there was another club called 4 комнаты (komnati) right around the corner near the university which was way more relaxed and was pretty much a students club.
However it had this cheesy element to it, the music consisted mainly of remixes of old English pop music and the funniest part was how we got ushered off these mini stage things when we tried to dance on them as it turned out that they had scantily clad dancers up on them instead. Another night at Cayote Ugly on Baumana proved to be no different, however I found it highly entertaining nonetheless.
|Don't asked why...|
And since the locomotive beach is about a 10-15 minute walk away.. we decided to go for a midnight swim one night. So worth it!
Go see the ballet or a concert
We were very lucky to have been offered tickets to see Tchaikovsky's Swan lake at the big Kazan Theatre for a mere 500 roubles (£10!) So we got to dress all fancy and it truly was a wonderful performance. And my first ballet (so many firsts on this trip!)
Plus glasses of "champanskoye" was only 200 roubles a glass! Take that London theatres!
Russians really abide the "no photos" rule. Might as well fit in!
The theatre was absolutely beautiful and is apparently modeled after the bolshoii teater in Moscow!
I also went to see a concert with an Ukranian orchestra. Kazan always has a great variety of things on offer to see in it's many theatres so try something new!
There is also an aqua park in Kazan filled with slides and stuff. Though the hitched up the prices while we were there because of the universiade....so no one wanted to go with me :(
But we went to the Kazan Riviera where they have a nice pool filled with deck chairs and stuff, proper holiday style. They even had a sauna which was fun. Though to be honest the only reason we came here was because I wanted to go jet skiing and it said on their website that you could. Well I got there and they told me the jet skis were coming in next year. UGH!
So meanwhile I think you should just buy a lot of souvenirs.
Like this amazing authentic soviet hat I got for £20!!! Halloween costume SORTED!
xx Vagabond Girl