After a long travel from Belarus through Moscow to Kazan I finally made it and wow, I have heard that it is very beautiful, but honestly it overwhelmed me and I fell in love with this City. It’s diverse group of people, food and architecture makes it a real gem in the south western part of Russia.
КАЗАН IN TARTARSTAN. The city was founded more than 1000 years ago and the name literally translated means Cauldron. The two biggest ethnic groups are Tatars and Russians, and therefore much Tatar language is spoken, Tatar food is eaten and Tatar is written on shops/restaurants.
They are a Turkic ethnic group and the second largest ethnicity after Russians. Most of which are Sunni Muslims, speak the tartar language (some of which is similar to Turkish) and their physical appearance can be very diverse from Asian looking to Turkish looking
What makes this place so special from my point of view?
+ very hospitable and friendly people
+ great mix between Oriental and Russian cultures
+ great Tartar food
+ they have a ice skating ring in the city centre
So during my time in February the average temperatures range from -6°C to -13°C; with quite a lot of snowfall and wind. I was lucky though and it was pretty ‘warm’ 🙂 – if you get too cold you can stop and enjoy a Tea (чаю “Chayu”) in any Cafe to warm up.
Walking is always a good option, of course I put on thermal underwear and it was fine and walked around for 29,3 Km … I was for sure really tired. The Kazan Kremlin is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2000.
How did I get here?
A very lengthy journey overall from Minsk to Kazan which took me 20h 30 mins.
Part I: Belarus Metro
Walk to the metro station for 30 minutes and take the metro to the main station (0.39€)
Part II: Belarus to the Airport
Walk to the central bus station, buy a ticket to the Airport (1.60€)
Part III: Flight Minsk to Moscow
I wanted to travel from Switzerland to South Korea only by land transport, however as I can’t travel via land legally and it costs a lot more to either travel via Lithuania or Ukraine I decided to fly (65€)
Part IV: Moscow to the City Station
I had 4 hours transit time in Moscow to reach my train station, then decided to take the train from the airport to the city (6.5€)
Part V: Metro to my Train Station
Oh yes, the Moscow Metro to my train station. The metro there is great, huge and sometimes quite complicated – and oops my two train stations had exactly the same name and had to drive twice (0.7€)
Part VI: Train to Kazan
Finally at the train station I had to take my 11 h 35 min train ride to Kazan (27€) – my first ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway
Part I: Challenges
Get a token to take the metro as I don’t speak Russian 🙂
Part II: Bus?
It’s either the bus or take a taxi to reach the airport
Part III: Belarus to Russia
Read more here on how to travel to Russia from Belarus
Part IV: Rome2Rio
If you have not yet tried it, give it a go but it’s not always 100% accurate so don’t rely only on it
Part V: Moscow Metro
I was surprised to see much English now written compared to the last time I was there.. probably due to the World Cup.
Part VI: Night Sleeper train
Super great train, with good service – and what do I meet on my first Trans Siberian train? Russian guys that want to drink until 4 in the morning 🙂
Where is this place?
What did I do here?
There were many things that I did here; enjoyed the Bauman street and the winter lights displayed there, enjoying the Kul Sharif Moque/Kremlin and many other towers in the city. A tight and narrow passage to the bell tower to overlook the city from above, walking on the lake side looking at the frozen river and enjoy the view, strolling all around the city and really glad to have met and enjoyed my time with new Tatar friend Leisan; my personal tour guide of the city showing me some hidden places, an old factory building that has turned into a ‘club’ and enjoying tartar food in the city.
a. Walk down the road Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda; and you can see typical tartar houses down that road
b. Visit the Fabrika Alafuzova; a club where even family and kids were on a sunday afternoon
c. Climb up the narrow passages of the Epiphany Cathedral Bell Tower to enjoy the city from above
d. Have some Tatar food at the Dom Chaya on the Baumann Street
e. Ice skate in the Chornoye Ozero park
f. I didn’t make it here but visit the Temple of all Religions
This might also be a helpful Visit Kazan
Where did I stay?
I stayed at the very cosy Wings Hostel – mostly it was Russians or Russian speakers that were staying here except a guy from Bangladesh and two ladies from South Korea and myself.
+ very well located; right next to the Bauman Street and close to the train station
+ very good pricing, 5€ / night including some basic breakfast, free coffee & tea
+ super cosy, big, and VERY clean
– it was a a bit difficult to find; you’ll have to spot a Russian signboard and walk to the back of the building
The online ratings of this hostel are fantastic and I would agree to that. It was worth every penny and such friendly staff as well even though they could not speak English