Due to its location in the Volga delta and the Caspian Sea the city was quite important for traders
An International student Xenia Trotzky came from Austria and was eager to explore Russian sole. Russian sole remained unexplored, however, Astrakhan was discovered from the history city to the fish market. She convinced us to go there and we advice you to read about her trip to Astrakhan.
Absolutely not knowing what would expect us, Samuel Delpeuch and I got on the train at 16.30 in Moscow. The air of the wagon was heavy. We tried to squeeze ourselves through the corridor with our huge backpacks on. Curious faces were looking at us, and finally one of the old ladies next to our places asked us where we are from and where our journey would go to. “Exchange students from Europe? What made you come to Russia? You are going to Astrakhan? Why would you go there?” You have to expect these kind of questions, when you are travelling as a foreigner in Russia.
The atmosphere in the train was great: some people read, some sleep, some chat about the weather or their children with their new companions while drinking tea and eating sweets on the sly.
After 5 hours the train, we stopped for 20 minutes at a train station in the middle of nowhere. The narrow platform was crowded and people were selling beer, vodka or something to eat to the passengers in the dark night. Samuel got into talking with Artyom, a Russian guy who told him incredible stories about his life while I was taking pictures of locomotive in my pyjamas outside, because it was so hot inside the train. Suddenly, the train started moving! At first we thought it would roll just a couple of meters, but it didn’t stop! So we started to run after the door and managed to hop on the stairs of the train in the last minute! Our heartbeats were on 180 and we started laughing how lucky we were to catch the train! Me, just in my pyjama shorts and all our stuff in the train – I really don’t know what we would’ve done if we hadn’t caught the train.
At 7 o’clock in the morning we arrived in Saratov. Samuel and I said good- bye to all the old ladies on the train and started to walk through the city. It was cold, windy, we were tired and all the cafés were closed. That’s why we were quite happy to get on the next train to Astrakhan, five hours later.
The air was warm at midnight in Astrakhan and it smelled like fish. I felt like I was at the seaside and was so happy after the cold weeks in Moscow. We were so surprised to see…green grass! The next day we were walking through the city with our “couchsurfing” friend, Marlen.
When you walk down the streets of Astrakhan, with all its colourful semi run-down buildings, you can feel the amazing history of the city and how great it must have been before the revolution. Due to its location in the Volga delta and the Caspian Sea the city was quite important for traders.
The new opera house with four stages is a very impressive building with a big park around it where plenty of freshly married couples are taking their wedding pictures.
Not far away you can find the fish market, where we bought some dried fish and beer and enjoyed our lunch break at the Volga embankment and 22 degrees!
Astrakhan has a great night-life too! Of course the number of bars is not so big, but wherever you go, you can meet nice, outgoing people, who are happy to meet foreigners.>
We had such an amazing time in Astrakhan and I would absolutely recommend everybody to visit this undiscovered and romantic city.