Nikola Lenivets: fantastic day out!

Reading first articles of this blog is clear that we often talk about travel or short trips, usually in places not too common and possible to do with a tight budget. This is the first post about Russia, in a not common place, at least for Italians, but not too complicated to achieve: Nikola Lenivets.

Probably this name will not say anything to most of you, Nikola Lenivets was born as a place of inspiration for some Russian artists who later, with the help of the locals, began to create large monuments with natural elements. Today it is the largest landscaped park in Europe and home of the festival “Archstoyanie”.

I adored this trip! I am still saying thanks to Principessa, I like everything and the road trip, in a place so different from what I am used, was really thrilling!

Princess and I booked an overnight stay on the internet and planned to leave Moscow in the morning at 8 with a rented car, of course we started at noon and after half an hour we stopped for a hamburger … After that we proceeded quite fast and without further stops to arrive on site before nightfall for fear of not finding the place.

Waze navigator was as always a reliable travel companion, by entering the name of the park in Latin characters brought us exactly to the reception, where a friendly girl showed us how to get to our accommodation, where to park, eat, etc. We also bought a map for 100 rubles (about 1.30 €), just to be sure not to get lost.

After 4 km of gravel road, we reached our ‘Klever’ cottage, a small house of wood created by Mel Studio, complete with toilet, sleeping loft, heater, wood stove and a fantastic panoramic glass wall.

KleverHouse

Outside the thermometer marked about -20, but inside the house, the stove was already on, the wood was cut and ready and everything was very very comfortable and warm, we needed it … but here we had a little mishap, from a brief conversation we understood that neighbors were a group of boors, and absolutely not appropriate. We had confirmation when we called the front desk to report that sheets and towels were not present, and set it back we discovered that the neighbors took them (sheets, towels, blankets, slippers, everything that you could take short) because they booked for 6 people and came in 10. The staff was very helpful and solved the problem in minutes.

After being settled in, we went to dinner in a few minutes’ walk we reached the cafeteria, a small restaurant where two girls with oriental looking serve food cooked on a large wood burning stove. We ate a mushroom soup with Smetana (Sour Cream), chicken soup with noodles, plov (Uzbek dish made with rice, lamb and vegetables), pasta Bolognese and two cups of hot tea, after twenty minutes outdoors we needed. The soups were excellent, plov fantastic but of course the pasta was overcooked and the meat was very far from the sauce to which we are accustomed, but we ordered more out of curiosity, and, in its way, was good.

After dinner, we enjoyed the warmth of the wood stove in our loft, and apart from the screams of our neighbors around midnight, was a night too quiet. Actually I was a bit ‘surprised by all this tranquility; the reception has nonetheless called us in the morning apologizing for the inconvenience caused, even offering us to stay an extra night free of charge. We were told that the screams were due the neighbors fighting each other for missing beds, everyone went into the hospital for because they hurt each other, that’s why the shouts were over very soon.

Early in the morning we went to breakfast in the same canteen, coffee, croissants with butter and jam and blini (Russian version of crepes), and then we started our day of exploring. Due to the size of the place and the harsh climate, we moved into the car from a monument to another, Principessa was already familiar with the place, I enjoyed it a lot, and we meet one of the artists who live here and who create various woodcarvings of  animals.

Bogor  BirdsVSInsects

There were not only monuments of wood, but also churches, “stylish” bus stops, houses, and images typical of the Russian countryside. On the way back we stopped at least 20 times, struck by how many curious things you may encounter while traveling by car.

Monument      House

I see that already I’m linger, sorry for being so long, on the way back we saw a monument and a museum about the Second World War ( http://www.museum.ru/M620 ). While Principessa remained in the car to take a nap (by car turned on with hot air), I went to see the museum, I had no cash for the entrance fee (70 rubles, a little less than 1 euro) and they did not accept cards but a nice lady let me in for free. I walked around the small room with memorabilia of World War II and hailed to exit. The lady stopped me and showed me an album of photos in black and white, the lady spoke only a few words in English, but as I understood, shots were made by his grandfather, during the advance of the Germans to Moscow, stuck in that place by a river for several days. The shots were really rare, high quality, mainly depicting the destruction of the bridge, German tanks blocked in the mud and the construction of a new wooden bridge. I never expected such a surprise for such a small museum.

Complete album here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/137487255@N06/j285G0 

A (long) day in Albania – Part 1

**Just a reminder, I am writing in English for fun)

On September 18th at 04:00a AM we left Montenegro, because of an unwanted meeting (we will tell about this in another post), and at five in the morning we started our unique, long and wonderful day in Albania accompanied by the call of the Muezzin, starting from the minarets, spread amplified in the beautiful valleys surrounding us, making the sunrise magic.

Our first stop was Shkodra, we arrived in the town too early, we had a walk in the desert center, and then we parked along the road to the castle, where Principessa had  a good sleep, and I’ve read “Siberian Trilogy” from Nicolai Lilin (which apparently is a “liar” https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolai_Lilin, I was sad when I discovered it, and I am suffering, I do not know whether or not to buy the last two books; sorry I can’t find any article in English about him).

Shkodra or Shkodër for the Albanians, Scutari for us Italians, is an ancient city, the cradle of Albanian culture, on the shores of homonymous lake and often known as the “Florence of the Balkans” because here the press arrived early and was taken The first photograph of the entire Balkan area (1858): http://shkoder.net/en/ . Looks like we made the tour of the “Florence of something”, in this post I wrote about the Florence of Bulgaria, I swear it was not wanted!

At about 9 am we ventured into the center, we immediately noticed that most of the cars were Mercedes from ’90s, that’s Albania! The main street is super romantic, a series of restaurants, small shops and cafes surrounding the street, and tables crowded with people concentrated on smoking and drinking coffee give color to the pedestrian area. The thing that certainly impressed me was the extreme kindness of the people, as the waiter who has worked hard to make us an omelette because the chef had not yet arrived, then asking if it was good (and it was), or the guy who offered us to take a picture, and got scared seeing photo getting out of the camera, confessing that he had never seen a snapshot:

Albania1

Also in the center was being the beer festival, sponsored by the national beer “Stela”, which we did not get to try for a number of reasons: start drinking at 9 am is not recommended, we were going to drive , we were uninsured because the green card does not cover this nation and insurance office near the borderwas close and mainly all the stands were closed. For the curious, this is the link of the brewery: http://www.stefani-co.al/.

The city is very accurate, even the fences of the yards are decorated and parks are full of strange sights, such as giants Chupa Chups:

Albania2

In the morning as well we left towards Koman, with the idea of taking a ferry and sail up the valley above a breathtaking water views, we thought we had the day well planned, but something unexpected was around the corner. I’ve already written too much, I will tell this adventure in the next post. For now one anticipation:

KomanLake