(Title taken from this classic Russian video from the Cheburshka series, watch for a cute lil song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbAPd1491X8)
A few months ago I celebrated my 21st birthday in Cambridge, on the presumption that ‘for my actual 21st birthday I will most likely be in a brutalist apartment downing borscht and vodka in equal measure whilst my new russian husband plucks away at a balalaika’ (to quote the Facebook invitation). Before coming to Kazan I was apprehensive that I would have to celebrate my actual birthday with people who didn’t really know me very well and weren’t overly bothered about the day, especially given how difficult I found arriving at university in England. So I’m pleased to be able to write about what a brilliant day I had relaxing in Kazan with some newfound pals who made the day really special.
The day started the best way possible; with a huge lie-in and a huge breakfast (even though it was me cooking for everyone else…French Toast for all!). We then gathered our energy to go into town to eat some more, and had lunch at our favourite stoloviya (this gang consisted of the three gals from Cambridge and our two Australian friends who have begun learning Russian from scratch!). We then went to go and check out a tourist attraction called “Центр семьи “Казан”” which is mostly just a good place to get a view of the city and take some posey photos. However, it was cool to cross to the other side of the river, and see the Kremlin in all its glory.
We then moved back to the centre, and with time to spare before dinner, we decided to treat ourselves to a quick 300 rouble manicure (about £3.50).
By the evening, we were slightly tired and cold from trundling about in the rain. Uncertain if there were any all important vegetarian options, we went to a local Uzbek restaurant, which we had heard was very tasty. And we were certainly not disappointed! The restaurant itself was beautifully decorated with draping fabrics, soft cushions and bright colours. We ordered a pot of ‘Rubai Tea’, which they prepared for us at a special ‘tea table’ with fresh fruits and spices at the back of the restaurant and chose some dishes. I ate some dumplings called ‘Manti’ (bottom left of table photo), accompanied with the ever-present sour cream.
When we had finished we stepped out into the rain to meet some more of our English friends at a nearby bar; and as we are in Russia, there’s no better present to receive than a bottle of berry vodka! На здорове!