After a stop over in Istanbul, which allowed me to have a first (quick) glimpse of this fascinating city, I made it to my final destination: Kazan. First time ever in Russia... To be honest, I had always thought that if I were going to Russia one day, I'd be going to Moscow or St. Petersburg. But I wasn't going on holiday so I didn't really have a say in it. And to be fair, the city of Kazan was a very pleasant surprise. I found the city centre quite charming, with its large, straight streets, its coloured houses and religious buildings. There's also a very nice walk along the river, which seems to be the place where trendy bars and restaurants are booming. Not my thing, but if you're into it, then you know! In my opinion, the most impacting thing of all was probably the very beautiful kremlin. If you're ignorant as I am, you probably thought that "Kremlin" was referring to THE building in Moscow. It's actually a name that refers to a "fortified complex", a citadel of sorts, which can be found in any Russian cities with a historical heritage (you're welcome).
So the Kazan Kremlin in indeed a very nice historic complex, which seems to reflect the diversity of a city where the population presents an interesting blend of Russian and more Asian traits and where the dominant faiths are Islam and Orthodox Christianity. As a consequence, some of the highlights of the Kremlin are the beautiful Annunciation Cathedral and the Qolşärif Mosque (which was rebuilt some twenty years ago).
During the limited amount of free time I had during my stay, I also had the opportunity to go on a very nice boat trip on the Volga and to attend (part of) the famous Sabantuy festival that, from what I understood, includes sporting competitions, both joking and serious ones, traditional crafts, music performances, traditional dances, etc.
Among the stories to be remembered from this stay, I will just mention the fact that it was extremely complicated to find people who spoke English... which led me and a colleague to embark on a rather funny mime session in a pharmacy, before realizing that "Voltaren" exists as such in Russia, that it's even pronounced almost the same way in Spanish and Russian... and that we could definitely not earn a living as mimes!
Boat trip on the Volga