27th – 28th April 2016
Location: Nizhny Novgorod
Towards the end of my journey I’ve hit a bit of writer’s block. The train journey between Krasnoyarsk and Nizhny Novgorod really took it out of me. It wasn’t the longest stint but finally getting out of the East and making my way through time zones started to play a little havoc on me. Both nights I gained two hours so I was waking up at 5 or 6 am feeling rested and that made for very long days.
I shared my cabin with primarily one girl and a couple of other woman who came and went. She was sweet and we managed a couple of conversations but seemed intent on keeping herself to herself. After a few trips up and down the carriages I, again, found it pretty quiet and no English speakers in sight. I’ll admit, by the end I was going a little stir crazy. I think as soon as you come off the main Beijing – Moscow train it gets a little less touristy and there are more passengers simply commuting from A to B. They’re not on board for long or it’s a fairly automatic procedure for them, so it’s not a particularly social occasion. Or maybe I just got unlucky.
But oh was the journey worth it. Nizhny Novgorod is beautiful. I can’t remember what drew me to choose it in the first place, it’s not far from Moscow and I don’t seem to recall reading much about it but I’m so glad I did. The top attraction, of course, is the Kremlin. What makes this one unique is it’s setting. The Nizhny Kremlin sits on the cliffside river bank so you can divide your time between the history and the views. I had a look around the main sights and paid the 200 roubles to walk along the wall. Definitely worth it. You start off by the main entrance and the route round to tower ten probably takes about half an hour, more like 45 minutes if you’re a nerd with a camera like me. When you finish by the waterfront it’s easy to head back to the main area. I hit up a couple of art galleries and made my way to Chkalov Staircase.
I walked back to the hostel the long way and explored Bolshaia Pokrovskaia Street. It had a really nice vibe and I definitely felt like I was getting closer to Europe. It felt familiar, like a High Street back home. I think the Costa Coffee and Burger King signs may have helped with that. The place feels like it would have a good nightlife in the evening, there are a lot of bars and restaurants and with the university, it seems like a good student town. Unfortunately I had yet another painfully early start the next day so my evening was reserved for sunset watching only.
After grabbing some food I was determined not to let my evening completely disappear. A quick research suggested that Fedorovsky Embankment was good for viewpoints so I decided to head there for the sunset. It was a bit of a race chasing the sun through housing estates and parks but I got there in the nick of time. I’ve never seen sunsets like the ones I’ve seen in Russia but this one was on a whole other level. The view was incredible over looking the town, river, cathedrals and bridges. The light caught the buildings perfectly and it was impossible to look away. After doing a quick loop with camera I plonked myself down amongst the picnicking couples and watched the sun disappear completely.