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March 31, 2002
We had to walk a short way down a hill to reach the beach. Now it was not your typical beach because it was not an ocean, but a river! But they insisted that it was indeed a beach! This part of the river was very wide. I was amazed at how many people were at this beach! Young and old were sunbathing, making sand castles, and splashing around in the river. There was a little place you could rent a boat from and take it out on the water, so before I knew it, I was on a boat and out in the water. It was a bit difficult to get out into the water because there was a lot of green grass and growth in the water. But it was beautiful. Once we got out into the waters, we jumped into the river and swam around a bit. I never thought I would find myself swimming in the Volga River in Russia! When I returned to the United States many people were shocked to see I was in a swimsuit and in water in my pictures from "Russia!" Just goes to show, stereotypes are just that, stereotypes.
If you are invited to a "dacha" it would be a hige mistake to turn down the invitation. I cannot express what a wonderful experience it was to travel to a dacha. I even got to taste Russian barbaque! The countryside of Russia is so relaxing, and not many people from the outside get a chance to see this way of life. You can soak in the culture of Russian life. The importance the Russian people have of family, enjoyment, and summer is very refreshing.
From journal The Mysterious Land of Russia: Saratov
March 30, 2002
River Terminal is the place that boats leave for cruises and scheduled departures for many cities situated on the Volga River in Russia. We took a boat ride a short way down the river. The boat was entertaining. You could purchase food or drinks while listening to music. It was a short little scenic ride that took about 30 minutes or so. There are boat tours sitting along the embankment. As and they can direct you where to go to buy a ticket. The boats run often during the summer months. But in the winter the Volga is full of ice and snow!
Along the embankment there is a sidewalk in which you are able to walk along side the river. There are several cafes,bars and restuants that overlook the river. At the time I was there, there were not a ton of people walking along the embankment. There were some people here and there which made walking along the Volga easy and quiet. I found it enjoyable to simply watch the water flow past.
Most everyone has heard the classical music song "The Volga Boatmen". It is not recognized often by the name, but by the tune. Also there is a famous painting titled, "The Volga Boatmen." Being familiar with both of these, it gave me a sense of awe to stare upon this massive stream of water.