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 2

As I told in the previous post in the morning we left Shkodra to head towards Lake Koman. Initially we drove across a beautiful highway, surrondend by towns, bars and retailers of used Mercedes. The idea was to reach Koman by car, take the ferry to get to Fierze, look for a place to sleep in that area between lakes and mountains and the next day reach Tirana, or if we had arrived late for the ferry, sleeping in Koman and catch the ferry the following day.

Left the highway we continued on SH25, a sign indicated that there were only 32Km to our destination. Our legendary Fiat 500 was climbing the mountains in this place out of reality. If you decide that you want to spend some time with no contact with civilization, this is the place for you, we have crossed kilometers of mountain road near a great river, blue with mirror effect, and trees, trees and more trees. Sometimes an isolated house or a village of a few houses, fenced, tidy and where everyone has fruit trees, vegetables, and animals.
Now you may wonder why such a place near the highway is so isolated, simple, the road is horrible, sometimes there is the asphalt, sometimes no, no shoulder, the asphalt slippery goes straight down the mountains, holes so big that you can take a bath inside them, and the closer you get to Koman is worse, it takes about 2 hours driving reckless, plus some (pleasant) unexpected meetings like this:

Albania4

Once I established a relationship with herd of goats (is correct to say herd of goats, or the herd is for cows is only? Perhaps a flock of goats, or this is only for sheeps?) and politely asked them to move away from the roadway, everything went smoothly until the “country” of Koman, along the way we met a large fenced area with barbed wire, which we later found out to be a mine and a series of large circles formed by rubber pipes in the water, which still we do not know the purpose; of course we stopped several times to admire the view and take some pictures:

Albania3

The last stretch of road start from Koman and climbs uphill on a narrow road remnant of a quarry, made from large stones (this is the only dangerous part of the road, where you have to go extremely slow), is near a high dam monitored by security agents dressed in a funny uniform and armed with a vintage firearm with the wooden handle. Near the dam, a tunnel carved into the mountain takes you to a parking lot where ferries depart.

Just parked the car a kind girl asked us in perfect Italian if we needed information, I asked in English about ferry, to allow even Principessa to understand, and in a good English it was explained us that because of the level too low the of lake, the ferry could not leave, it that day, and following 2 or 3 for sure, but that if we wanted we could do a private tour by boat, without car, and without going up to Fierze, at a price much higher than the ferry.

During a first comparison we smelled a rat, we thought that the ferry had already left, and that for this girl was better to sell us a private boat tour rather than make us wait the next day and take the ferry .. Ferry being used from local to carry everything, that for sure is cheap ..

We went back to the town and we asked other people about the ferry departure time, and all advised us to ask to pier because there was low level of water in the lake, so we were untrusting this girl, but she was honest … Here came the despair, we had come all this way with the horrible road certainty of not having to go back again, plus we were really curious about this trip on this ferry passing through lands untouched by any road, where the time stopped long time ago, where people do not have “heard” the Italian occupation or the German one, or Communism, or the modernization of these days; they live in the same way, in nature, thanks to the hard work regardless of Saturday and Sunday with the days marked only by sun and by night and the moon to indicate the seasons and the day to sow and reap.

I realize now that I have written a papyrus, am I long-winded? If yes, tell me, it’s the first time I am writing a blog, I’m not an expert ..

Always with a smile we went back, towards Tirana! But this I’ll tell you in the next post