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Travels in Russia

Russian Remonts
Stop Theif!
Almost Worth Staying For
Offshore Your Rubles in Swiss Accounts
Russian Women
You Can Buy Anything in a Russian Kiosk!
What Did Russians Eat Before Potaotes?
Nothing Like a Birch Branch Beating!
Anything Can Be Scrap Metal
Serious Soviet Pollution
Day-Tripping Around the Garden Ring
The Russian Poezd
Yeltsin's Family
Soviet Photography
Happy Times in HTML Hell
Road Runners Rule!
Piva is Good!
A Subaka Says What?
Soviet Swimming
Manly Russian Men
And Peter is a Distant Second
Invest in Russia?!
The Zen of the Line
That Looks Just Like My Dom
Russian Adoptions by the Dozen
Internet Cafes Are Everywhere
Going to See Mama Russia
Going to the Movies
Russian Visas
Eta Notebook Batteria, Durak!
Fidelity is Not a Brokerage
Soviet Suburban Living
Taking the tramvai
Cash Transfers Across Russia
Time to go...
Do Your Spring Cleaning Now!
Reclama Nation
Russians Do Tours
Going Local
Pecktopan = Restaurants
Yevgeniy Primakov, Who?
101 Reasons Why NATO's War Sucks
A State Secrect: Women's Ages
Russians Blew up the US Embassy!
It's Dacha Time Again
I Love Me a Starlite Diner
Anything Goes at Night
Yesho Piedesat Gram Vodkoo
Shock Thearpy
IMF & Reform
Zoos Should Be for Politicans
There Was Giligan, And the Skipper Too
The Regions Exist?
Do You Believe the Media?
What is Russian Feminism?
Russian Music Rocks
Bye Bye Fast Food
Yest Klooch?
Addicts Are Addictive
Racism in Russia Too
An Education in Russian Politics
Orphans Are Lonely
Making Bliny
Nasty Newspapers
#51 If you get the jokes
Sick as a Dog
Those Crazy Russians
An Open Road Ahead
Iron Felix
You Can Buy (Almost) Anything in a Market
Education Makes Elections Happen
Ice Cream in Winter
Superstitions Are Sneaky
The Adventures of Flat Jon
Ice Fishing in Sibera
Death is Painful in Any Culture, Anywhere.
Lenin is Alive
Every Thing is Leaking
New Russians
Go Dollar!
Corruption is Endemic
The Joe-Cool Moscow Crew
Taxes Will Find You
I'm Driven Mad
Holidays Last and Last
It's All About Location
Taxies Take You Everywhere
Russian Religion Re-emerges


Russia, June 28, 1999

But He Went by the Name of Lenin

A visit to beginning of it all: Lenin's home town

The Man behind the Plan
Lenin in his Red Period
The city in its Red Period
Hide from the storm in a cafe
A tramvai hotel!
At least the tramvai is close
In the late 1800's, a young man came into the world by the name of Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov in the town of Simbirsk. When he started to write, he changed his surname to Lenin and the rest it history. Well, almost. His hometown, to commemorate its famous son, changed its name to Ulyanovsk and in the 1970's built a huge museum around his boyhood homes.

I'm living in Ulyanovsk this week while Lidia audits a local chocolate factory (you know what I've been eating every day!), and I'm getting quite Lenin-happy. So far, I've seen each of the four houses he lived in, and two more that his family owned (they moved around town a lot). He came from an upper-middle class family, and he was the third of six kids. From his beginnings, he seemed to be normal, and I couldn't find any funky event in Ulyanovsk that might have twisted him into overthrowing the Tzar.

Oddly enough, outside of the museums, there isn't much here in the way of the usual Lenin monuments. He has his own on the town square, but I didn't see many buildings in his name. Its is usual to find a dozen buildings, institutes, streets, or plazas named for him in every city, but not Ulyanovsk. I guess, after having a section of their old town center demolished for the museum complex, the locals are kinda sick of all the hubbub. Personally, I can't blame them!

The town itself is a great respite from the monotony of Toglatti, having a distinct old section filled with wooden homes from the 1800's. The town used to stretch along the Volga, before the huge dam was built at Toglatti that made the river into the Kuybyshev Reservoir. Now there is a sand beach at the water's edge down the hill from our hotel, but it ain't much.

Our hotel, on the other hand, is worthy of a few words. First, it is dirt-cheap! Unlike the usual in Russia, there isn't any stupid double pricing here, both Lidia and I pay 150 rubles a night. With the current exchange rate, that works out to about $6. Not bad for a double room on the 16th floor of the tallest building in Ulyanovsk!

Now, with a double room, we expected a double bed. Well, we got one all right! Two single bed on either side of the room. The Soviets were not big on fun times in hotel rooms, and wouldn't even let unmarried couples sleep in the same room! These days the rules are not as strict, Lidia and I am together, but we still have to deal with the remnants of the system, like the two single beds. Like in Kyiv in Turkey, we pushed the two single beds together to make a single double bed, with yours truly having to sleep in the crack. What I do for love!

The furniture (and probably the linens!) date from the 1950's, although Hotel Venets was built in the '70's. I actually like the style though; it is all wood and very sturdy. Minimalist in design, everything is very practical, if a little boring. My only complaint would be the bed frames. With high walls on three sides, two beds together form a mini-corral from which it is mighty hard to get out of in the morning. Oh, and that the outlets are all the two flat-prong American style, but the electricity is still Russian 220 volts, which makes both the two round-prong or an American 110 volt appliance useless. Standard Soviet engineering!

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