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Elaine and Peter’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 10 Oct 2018

Location: Samara, Russia

MapToday was a surprise, sunny and a balmy 10 degrees. We have come to visit the city of Samara for a two and a half hour city tour by bus with stops at various arttractions.
This was more than enough!

Until 1991, this was a closed city of Soviet origin, even outside Russians needed a permit to enter the city. It was built as a military armaments and weapons centre and it was also a space centre. We stopped briefly by the Soyuz rocket before going onto the observation point at Glory Square. Here there is a very tall statue to commemorate the achievements of the military industry and also the eternal flame.
There are good views of the embankment which has a sandy area and is very popular in summer for the locals. It is evident that there has been money spent in this part with new steps and landscaped areas leading up to the square. Apparently this was all done here and elsewhere for the World Cup. Maybe this is why places are immaculate in the historic centres! It would have been interesting to see it before that. The Soviet residential blocks which were given free to the populace, were dire.

We stopped outside Stalin's bunker which was closed. It is an eleven storey bunker built for Stalin in case of invasion but it was never used as he never left Moscow.

This is a major industrial and economic centre. It was chosen as the alternative capital in wartime and was designated an evacuation zone should Moscow and other areas fall to the Nazis. It is certainly a city which likes its monuments.

We spent the afternoon on board. There was a discussion forum at some point where the three scenic tour guides answered questions that we had about the country.
I can't remember it all but there were some very interesting comments made:-

......how did they see relations with the west in particular how did they view recent issues in the western press.......relations with the west were not good!! There was a lot of propaganda which has been around for years. Re Novachok, there is no credible evidence that Russia was involved, they cannot believe that to highly skilled officers would be so careless as to leave evidence such as the perfume bottle for some one to find to incriminate them, they are much more professional than that so it must be fake news. They retold the party line, i.e. It is a joke.....

......where are the fields with cows, sheep, goats.....they do exist but we won't see any as health and safety rules mean that they have to be kept away from the rivers....there is some communal farming but much is privatised now, because of sanctions from the west, agriculture is thriving, as the government has encouraged the people to grow their own to meet shortages on imports. So agiculture is booming as the country becomes self sufficient and doesn't need to rely on imports from other countries.

.....are men and women equal, yes they are

.....what are the problems with alcohol.....you can buy alcohol cheaply in the supermarket, attempts to control consumption is failing, more worryingly so is the attempt to curb smoking, at two euros per packet it is cheap and easy to buy.

......religion, under the Soviets, religion was separate from the state so many became atheists, today many cities are multi faith.

We finished off the early evening with a vodka tasting session, the word vodka coming from water. Bottles are cheap and come in several flavours...not our tipple I'm afraid. Vodka shots are to be taken cold, and down in one with pickles to take off the edge of the alcohol.