If you have been to Samara–either with me or any other time–why don’t you join the blog with your comments or reflections about your time there. Okay—I’ll even let those of you who live in Samara chime in! Let’s tell the world about the charming city in the embrace of the Volga’s bend.
Love this! I can’t wait to read what people have to say since I have never been there.
Woo! I’m a Samara alum!
I’m sure I won’t be the only one to say this, but what I remember most about Samara, and keep with me always, is how warm and friendly everyone I met was. So many people invited my mom and I into their homes for dinners and conversations that lasted hours. Being only 18 and my first time in a foreign country, it was very comforting to have met so many warm, kind people who treated us to their best in a place where I felt so lost and homesick. There wasn’t anything I saw or did that was more meaningful than that.
Liz H. says
LIZ WROTE: I had really wanted to travel to some place “exotic” when God provided the opportunity to go to Russia with Jeanette in late spring 2002. I had some trepidation having grown up in the Cold War years of the 50s and 60s. My fears were assuaged when I met the lovely, caring people of Samara. The country reminded me of the U.S. Midwest with its rivers, hills, lakes and forests. It was beautiful! We spent a glorious day in a country “dacha” and even enjoyed a “banya” complete with beech branches. The food was delicious (always an important consideration for me!). I was very impressed with the history and culture of the Russian people. Everyone, it seemed, had an appreciation of and/or participated in the arts: music, dance, literature or painting. I think my trip to Russia helped me to see people the world over as all part of a global family. Our differences needn’t divide us if we focus on our similarities and forget our fears. I would recommend a trip to Russia, especially beautiful Samara, for anyone!
Galina Filippova says
Am I an alumnus of Samara or am I its forever citizen? This type of question should torment my mind ever and ever – perhaps, any time someone articulates this word, “Samara”:) I have lived in Canada since 2003 and, God, how many times I would exclaim, “Oh, this is EXACTLY like in Samaaaaara!!!!” should I, all by chance, happen to see or taste, or smell, or feel “something in the air exciting” – something that would bring back the precious memories of the city of my youth:)
Say, I drive by a country bakery, cannot fight the temptation of dropping in, grab a just-out-of-the-oven loaf of bread, its crust is sooo deliciously crispy and aromatic….”Just like in Samara!!!”, dashes across my mind:)When I happen to buy a hefty chunk of dark full-body “no-baloney” chocolate, I find my comfy spot to sit down with a cup of tea; at a special moment like that, I know I feel “Just like in Samara!!!”
When I happen to get a modern, urban, up-to-date haircut and dare to wear high heels, tights and a skirt (now happens once in a blue moon to me:D), I immediately get a sensation of walking “Just like in Samara!!!”. When on Canada’s National Day thousands of people come together at the city lake to celebrate, dance, hang out with friends, play drums and watch the fireworks, I love to lose myself in that crowd and breath in the air of togetherness – “Just like in Samara!!!!”
When in spring time everyone’s bushes of peonies explode with huge pink, white, and maroon fancy flowers whose smell is another meaning of “happiness,” I can tell you,my friends, it is “Exactly like in Samara!!!” When in autumn woods turn red and gold, I drive through the fields to see my local friends that wait for me with their dinner table all covered with the best they could cook or get, I cannot help thinking of my time with my old friends in Samara:)
When the first snow comes in November, I celebrate that day, just as I celebrate the entire Her Majesty WINTER, full-volume, sparkling white, knee-deep snow I love so much….as you can already tell, it is as fantastic and envigorating to my mind and spirit as “it is in Samara!!!”, that’s what I know:)
So, am I an alumnus or its forever citizen?;) Guess what, Samara alumni, I will finish up with a well-known and rewarding saying, “It is better to be a HAS-BEEN than a NEVER WAS…”
You are most definitely its forever citizen. Your words brought the sights, smells and tastes into my head–and the city’s energy into my soul. Be tormented no longer!
Ron Mason says
I am an alumnus of Samara..twice. I have many memories of Samara but the one that is with me the most is the friendly Russian people during 911.
My homeland is the GREAT WHITE NORTH (aka Canada). That country that lies between Russia and the USA.
The first trip to Samara was between Sept.6 and 14, 2001. You guessed it…It was during the 911 attack. I was staying in the old National Hotel, by the marketplace, in downtown Samara. At about 5 pm the TV was flashing “AMERICA UNDER ATTACK” in English. New York was burning. I thought to myself… Who would have the where-with-all to do such a thing….. perhaps Russia had gone mad! Not to worry! As a young schoolboy in rural Ontario in 1957, I had learned survival instincts. Duck and cover kicked in. There was a solid wooden chair in the room.
For those who don’t know, Samara was a ‘closed’ city and had recently opened it doors to foreigners. Samara was a main military base for the development of missiles. After the attack, USA and Russia were at the highest state of alert…. Defcon1. During the Cold War, DEFCON 1 was feared because it would most likely precede an all-out nuclear war. Great. There I was in a military zone and watching the Pentagon burn!
As events unfolded, in the next few days, it became quite clear that Russians were very sympathetic…. just like most of us. So when I came out from under the chair, things seemed peaceful in Samara.
American TV, to this day, promotes the idea that 3000 “Americans” died in the attack. In reality, victim citizens came from 90 worldwide countries, including Russia and Canada.
Getting on a plane in Samara to fly to Moscow was very difficult. The Moscow airport was a military nightmare. I managed to get on one of the first planes out to North America. Many Americans were flying out, as well, to the safe haven of Toronto. It was a long flight home but I will never forget Samara….and I did return.
PS…any typos and spelling errors will be corrected by my Editor Jeanette
Samara is a lot like San Francisco—-no, not the part about little cable cars climbing half-way to the stars, but definitely a place where I’ve left my heart. Funny how you can leave pieces of yourself all over the planet and still have enough pieces left to function at home. Anyway, I’ve been to Samara twice and am LONGING to go back in the worst way. I love Tanya all the ladies (and gents, too) who serve with Crossroads, ministering the love and grace of God to so many. I love visiting the rehab/farm, where Luba (sp?) just radiates, sparkles and shines with her own brand of Holy Spirit enthusiasm. I love my gracious host and hostess, Natasha and Volodia, in whose home Jeanette and I stayed during my last trip. I love the land—the beautiful countryside, the birch trees and lilacs, the quaint buildings, the banya at Nina’s, the tomatoes and cucumbers and meat pies. Oh, my. I’m making myself quite homesick.
What’s not to love??? Oh, there are a few things like exhaust fumes and over-heating taxis and lines for everything, unpredictable hot and cold water, toilets that make you feel like you really didn’t have to go that bad after all. The Moscow airport is a bit nerve-wracking, too. These small inconveniences are minor compared to the incredible fellowship- real biblical koinania.
Jeanette will work VERY hard while she is in Russia, to be sure, BUT you can be sure that she doesn’t keep going back because she’s got some over-developed martyrdom complex. She keeps going back for a reason—she can feel the love.
Now I’m really homesick.
It’s not too late to join me! Oh, how I would love that.
Thank you for your objective critical remarks about Samara, otherwise it looks so ideal that I can’t recognize it. Thank you also for your kind words about me and my home city. They make me really appreciate it as the proverb says: “We do not keep what we have and cry when we lose it”
I wish you and Tom could come this year.
In my life I have traveled all over the world. Many people have told me they have been to Alaska. They say yes I have been on a cruise ship hopped on and off and seen ice burgs, villages and bought totem poles. I have meet many Western people who have visited Russia, been to Moscow and Saint Pete. You know those plastic cities where people rush around like drones. Until you can travel above the arctic circle where no trees can survive, go to Kotzebue Alaska where the sun never sets in summer, look out over the Bering Sea and almost touch Russia, see thousands of Caribou run free you haven’t seen Alaska. The same with Russia. I have been all over Russia, Saint Pete, the Golden Ring, Moscow, Kaluga, Tula, Volgograd and the Volga, Sochi, Ekaterinburg, Kazan, all over Siberia, Novosibrisk, Kemerovo, as far east as Irkusk and Lake Baikal and you haven’t seen Russia until you have been to Samara on the mighty Volga River.
I have been to Moscow and Saint Pete many times even on a cruise ship where I took those conventional guided tours sheltered from the back streets, criminals, danger lurking, and the filth we were not supposed to see. In Samara I saw everything, the struggle of the Russia people, their strength, their faith, love of family and I was everywhere. I stayed out until sunrise and never seen crime, everywhere I went people treated me with respect and curiosity. I went back in time and found a simpler place in time where values were important. I also seen problems like any city with garbage, mud and water flow, poor streets and city planning, but what I saw in the people was strength. The perception the American people had of Russians were wrong as I was told, I found the people were completely different then the government. I met new friend, honest people, who loved their country and their families.
I was told over and over it was dangerous in Russia and I have been everywhere in this great land. I have never seen in my many visits any instance where I could have reported anything out of the ordinary. I could however say in America 5 to 7 cities I would call dangerous. Of course in Russia there are areas I would not go to this is obvious.
Samara is a place I would suggest you should go to if you really want to see Russia, just the ride in from the airport is an adventure, especially at night. 8 years ago flying in on Samara airlines this was also a treat. I have seen people living in over 100 year old wooden houses looking like slums, with modest vegetable gardens on tiny pieces of dirt. Inside these homes are beautiful colored warm houses full of tradition, culture just as you would expect. My eyes were filled with wonderment as I entered I was amazed how clean they were spotless the smells of the food cooking in the tiny 2 rooms truly amazing talking with these people changed my life forever. I appreciate my world so much every day looking around at what is so precious to them and what I thought was so important to me.
I asked the elder man you have no televisions and not many things what do you do. He said he tends to his garden, his children are close by and he has grandchildren. He is the richest man in the world. I said how could that be I know many people who have so much more. He said those people still want much more in their life, they quest for more money, power and things. The richest person in the world is the one who needs the least and who has what he needs, I have everything I need. I have learned many lessons visiting Samara. I am a richer man today for this.
Samara before the collapse of Communism was a closed city. There were no, or I should say not many hotels in this city so not many visitors ever came to this city. People who lived in Samara were not allowed to leave, migrate to Moscow years ago. When I arrived 8 years ago I think I had a choice of 4 hotels. Of the 4 they were converted apartment buildings with only a few rooms. One of the places I stayed was very luxurious overlooking the Volga river.
During the war the Germans were approaching Moscow, Stalin decided to move the capital to Samara. There is a secret bunker in Samara, Stalin’s Bunker that on some days you can visit it. Search the Internet Samara Stalin’s Bunker and you can see photos of it, I was there it is very interesting. There is also a museum there. Not many people know about this because the Russians do not want you to know about this, they did not want you to know The Russians were planning to run, but now they need money so quietly it is promoted in Samara.
Samara is the heart of Russia. I will never forget my visit and if I had to choose a place to go back and visit I would choose Siberia and stop in Samara along the way. This is where there true Russian people live.
I have some very interesting impressions of Siberia.
Lonna Lisa Williams says
I am a Californian who lived in Samara for 6 months, from October, 2010 to April, 2011, to teach English (now I am in northwest Turkey). As a writer and photographer, I found it the most lovely city by the Volga River. You can see my Youtube videos about it: http://www.youtube.com/user/LonnaLisaWilliams?feature=mhum
If you like, read the book I’m writing called “Fire and Ice”: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=209711025724168
God bless the people of Russia and Jeannette as she travels there go share God’s love with them again.