View Full Version : Samara.

Larry Paradine
25-08-2008, 23:27
Although my preferred place of residence in Russia is Cheboksary, for work reasons I've spent at least as much time, probably more, in Samara and can claim to know the city (and it's sister city of Togliatti) quite well. I think it's worth including in this forum, because at any one time there'll be a hundred or so native English speakers working there, not all as teachers, and I would recommend it to any expat who wants to get away from Moscow but doesn't want to end up in the middle of nowhere. If the moderators agree to start a Samara thread, I'll post information in the next few days (I have limited computer time, so can't type everything at one go) and will be happy to answer any questions (subject to the proviso that I may not know all the answers).

Larry Paradine
28-08-2008, 11:37
I'm afraid this thread will have to be in short leaps and bounds due to limited computer time, and my apologies for any consequential inconvenience.

I'd better start with a disclaimer. I mentioned the existence of a substantial (for the provinces) expat community, but I'm not renowned for my sociability and was never an active member, so can't offer any contact telephones or addresses. I don't even know where lonely Samara expats go to meet fellow native English speakers nowadays as the British Council library is long gone and, to the best of my knowledge, there isn't a recognised hangout for thirsty foreigners. Lonely hearts would probably be best advised to post in this and other forums used by expats in Russia.

Larry Paradine
28-08-2008, 16:08
Now you see it, now you don't! "It" being our скорее безлимитное подклучение. If I could afford the time and money to be litigious, I'd sue our internet provider for misrepresentation but I seem doomed to proceed in fits and starts.

In the interests of brevity, I'll spare anyone reading this the facts and statistics to be found in local guidebooks. Instead, here's a list of the reasons why Samara is one of the better cities in Russia to live in:

1) The Volga. It's true you could say that of any town situated on either bank of Europe's longest and most inspiring river, even that hellhole Ulyanovsk-Simbirsk, but Samara has the best urban beaches and splendid sunsets against the impressive backdrop of the Zhigulovskyi hills. In high summer it may be difficult to see the sand for the bodies toasting on it over a length of five or six kilometres starting at the речной порт in the old part of town and finishing at the dredging works rather incongruously located beneath the city's new and infamously overpriced trio of 20 storey blocks of luxury flats. The beaches themselves are bisected by two of Samara's most durable late 19th century industrial buildings, the hydro-electric power station and the Zhigulovskyi Brewery, so tired pedestrians walking the distance can slake their thirsts at the latter. For the hoi polloi, this means buying an empty plastic bottle from one of the бабушки who sell their recycled wares on the street corner, standing in a queue in front of three service windows to have their containers filled through hosepipes attached to giant barrels in the brewery and going to one of the beaches (or the waste ground adjacent to the brewery favoured by those who prefer the convenience of remaining within leisurely distance of a refill to the ambience of the beaches) to quaff the contents. For those with amply-filled wallets and influential friends, there's a restaurant inside the brewery. My wallet is invariably empty, but I went to this exclusive venue once some years ago, in the company of the only well heeled, influential friend I have in Samara. The most notable features are the partitioned, privacy facilitating booths and the burly tuxedoed bouncers. Someone in our group took a photo using a flash and was ejected before he could press the button a second time. It was explained to me that this watering hole is a favourite venue for the city's financial magnates to conduct informal business discussions and for local politicians to entertain ladies who are not their wives, and photographers are as unwelcome as teetotallers.

If you decide to spend some time in Samara, I advise finding a flat somewhere within walking distance of the beach, because the riverfront is what really makes the city, and not just in summer, when you can indulge in all the water sports (except surfing) that one asociates with the seaside: water skiing, speedboating or even swimming. In winter, lovers of 'extreme" sports use the river ice for snow kiting and paragliding; the snow on the beach is a safe place for doddery skiers like me who fall down every few metres to practise their imperfect skills, while more accomplished skiers can get across the frozen river in a fraction of the time taken by the plodding pedestrians, most of whom live on the opposite shore and commute cross river every day. Those preferring more exotic cross river transport can take a ride on a сани (horse drawn cart), travel by motorcycle sidecar or opt for warmer transport inside one of the little hovercraft (maximum 6 passengers)operating between Samara and the village of Рождествено on the far shore; or risk life and limb in one of the ancient jalopies operating as unlicensed taxis. And, of course, dedicated anglers can bore holes in the ice and sit shivering by them all day waiting for a bite.

Transparent Theatre
28-08-2008, 16:27
even that hellhole Ulyanovsk-Simbirsk.

Tell us more - you can't leave that one dangling in the air like that, Larry?! :)

Excellent write-up on Samara - you've definitely made me rethink what I thought I knew from other accounts of the place! :)

28-08-2008, 16:57
Yes, a beautiful city Samara is. If you have a good job offer, why not go there?

And there is a song resounding:
Ah, Samara gorodok!

Personally I am thinking right now if to go on businesstrip to Samara for a couple of weeks, or just send my aide...
Of course, go yourself, you will say..
But who will look after my cat?

Larry Paradine
28-08-2008, 18:31
As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by a pop-up telling me my internet connection had failed again: the Samara waterfront is my number one reason for liking the city. others:

2) Чаконна. On a slushy spring day seven years ago, I was walking along a main road not far from the central market (still called the губернский рынок as it was in tsarist times) when I noticed a sign saying merely книги with an arrow pointing to a dilapidated three storey building in an adjoining street. Access to the building was through an archway giving on to a small courtyard ankle deep in slush and freezing water. I climbed two flights of rickety stairs and went into what I expected would be another small shop selling school textbooks, an assortment of DIY and be your own lawyer/doctor/architect books and popular llterature in paperback by the likes of Дария Данцова; instead, I found myself in the biggest bookshop outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. It had something for everyone and, specifically, a reasonable selection of books in English that went beyond the usual Agatha Christies and authors who, for one reason or another, were approved in Soviet times (I doubt if one in a thousand of the British reading public nowadays reads the works of Richard Aldington but Russian libraries are cluttered with tattered copies of "Death of a Hero" and "All Men are Enemies", and bookshops tend to follow suit.). Not much non-fiction, unfortunately, but an oasis for deprived bookworms who, like me, take all day just to plough through Komsomolskaya Pravda and have long given up trying the Russian equivalent of easy readers. Over the years Чаконна has expanded upwards (the loft of the old building was cleaned out to accommodate another ten thousand or so tomes) and outwards, opening branches in other parts of the city and in Togliatti. Last year the main branch was moved to a gleaming new торговый дом opposite the main bus station and eventually the old building was closed, which probably made economic sense as the expense of damp proofing must have been high, but much of the character of Чаконна was lost.

3) Architecture. Certainly not all the city's buildings are an asset, in fact the industrial areas and almost all the high rise are eyesores, but the old (alright, pre-revolutionary) structures have a certain charm. Visually, that is: the 19th century wooden houses that are currently making a last stand against the advancing army of avaricious property developers are picturesque but the passerby is uncomfortably aware, especially on a sultry day in summer, that sewerage and sanitation weren't priorities in the obsessive rush to electrify the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 30s and were never installed. Nor was running water; residents have to fetch water in buckets from public hydrants (and water spilled from these taps freezes in winter and forms potentially lethal obstacle courses of ice on the pavements). But the eclectism of early Samara architecture makes it the only Russian city except for St. Petersburg where a deliberate cosmopolitanism was encouraged. A notable example is the Lutheran Cathedral, not just because of the scarcity of non-Orthodox church buildings in Russia but because it's a remarkable piece of Gothic (19th century neo or pseudo Gothic for the benefit of purists) architecture. Damn, I'm going to have to stop.

Aha, I've just discovered a way round the problem of having to start new posts after each intermission: click on the "edit" button and carry on where I left off. Anyway, I've just flicked through that last paragraph and realised I was getting too guide bookish, so I'll pass on to the final, and least easily definable, point in Samara's favour:

4) The spirit or individuality of Samara. I don't want to fall into the trap of waffling, Dostoevski or Solzhenitsyn style, about the Great Russian Soul in a Samara context, but the city has a stubbornly individualistic and even non-conformist character that I find refreshing. It may have something to do with the ethnic mix: although Russians are the majority, there are substantial diasporas from the Moslem successor states to the old Soviet Central Asia and several of the less prosperous republics of the Russian Federation (especially my adoptive Chuvashia, home to the only Turkic people who, to my knowledge, embraced Orthodox Christianity instead of Islam, thereby becoming pariahs in the Turkic world and accepted only grudgingly in the Russian cultural-political community). Whatever it is, it's undisputably there. The paradigm example is the city's mayoral election two years ago. The incumbent mayor, Limanskyi, had served two terms undeterred by popular disillusionment manifested in the crowds of protesters that flocked, carrying banners demanding his resignation and/or impeachment, to every public occasion he attended, and was standing for a third term. Anonymous libellous posters impugning the integrity of his perceived chief opponent were ubiquitous, and were widely believed to have been printed in the mayor's office. In the final week of the election, a dark horse suddenly emerged as the real danger and Limanskiy was forced into a second round run. The mayor's campaign used some of the most blatant dirty tricks that this observer has seen in a long lifetime of watching human misconduct, and all the then main political parties, from Zhuganov's CPRFon the left to Zhirinovskiy's NDPRF on the right (and Mr. P's Party!) declared their support for him, as did the Samara oblast governor and the Tsar of Moscow himself. With that sort of backing (and a generally subservient local media) how could Limanskiy lose? Lose he did, and the result was a tribute to Samara and its free minded people.

One more plus point before I come to the negatives:

5) The Samara metro. The small minority of Samara residents who actually use this service might be almost as surprised to be told their underground rail service is one of their city's assets as other Samara citizens would be on discovering it exists at all. Despite the opening of two new stations in the last three years, the metro remains on the fringes of Samara's everyday life, and is accordingly underused; even at rush hours it's unusual to encounter the sort of sardine can conditions that characterise subterranean transit systems in Moscow and London, and off peak travel is almost luxurious, the cars are clean and uncrowded. Why? The metro was planned in the later days of the Soviet Union, and was to be constructed in four stages that would eventually cover the whole city. The first stage would provide industrial workers living in densely populated dormitory areas with fast transport to and from the factories where they worked. This was the only section of the planned network that was completed, but the demise of the Soviet Union was accompanied by mass closures of unprofitable factories and a demographic change as many of the redundant workers and their families moved to other parts of the city. The result is that, although the two latest opened stations do offer commuters access to the two main arteries (Московское Шоссе and Новосадовая улица), the metro still basically runs from Nowhere through Nowhere to Nowhere. For that reason it's a pleasure to ride, and should be experienced now, before construction of the long delayed second section begins. (The proposed second section fell foul of cash shortages and poor planning: its route follows the river to the main rail station, but the planners seem to have overlooked the fact that, where there's a river, there's water and the soil in the river route is so porous that only the most advanced--and expensive--technology can deal with that problem.)

And now a few items on the debit side of the balance sheet:

1) Roads and traffic jams. Not the very worst in European Russia, but Samara is a provincial capital (of Самарская область) and should at least set a local standard; unfortunately when compared with Togliatti, the second city, (at any rate, with Togliatti's so-called "new city" which, as might be expected of a town built for the convenience of an automobile factory, is the closest to a car driver's dream in Russia), Samara fails to meet even minimal standards.

2) Stray dogs. I'm not a dog hater, I get up early every morning to take a large, energetic and deplorably undisciplined mongrel for an hour's dash through our local forest, and yes I'm fully aware that every Russian city has a large population of pariah dogs, but Samara's packs of strays are becoming a major problem and I regret that the new mayor backtracked on a campaign pledge to take some, albeit unspecified, positive action and passed the poisoned chalice to a committee, the bureaucratic equivalent of hiding one's head in the sand (perhaps to avoid the dreadful vision of Brigitte Bardot descending on Samara at the head of an army of dedicated defenders of the rights of feral canines.)

3) Snow and ice clearance services. If there are any, they're only visible in the vicinity of Government House and the legislature. Generally, the rule seems to be if you want the sidewalks to be made safe for walking on, do it yourself or wait for the spring thaw (when skating rinks turn into calf deep rivers of filth).

4) Oligarchs who pay for the sort of privileges that are officially only available to government ministers and visiting VIPs; e.g. the right to drive at speed down the central reservation with a siren wailing and flashing light warning everyone else to get out of the way. It's not uncommon for these road hogs to be accompanied by one or more милиция cars (two years ago, the going rate was reliably reported to be $100 an hour per car, but no doubt inflation has swelled that figure too).

5) Time. Samara and Togliatti are the only cities on the whole length of the Volga not to adhere to Moscow time. Quite apart from the problems this causes when travelling in and out of the time zone (an hour ahead of Moscow), summer evenings and winter mornings are as light and dark respectively as in St. Petersburg, and that's a negative factor for people like me whose body clocks respond poorly enough to the twice yearly artificial time changes without the additional irritation of an unnecessary time zone (the new governor has announced he's in favour of bringing the область into the Moscow time zone, but whether that's an intention or just a wish remains to be seen).

6) Noise. To a certain extent, this is a spin-off from 2 and 5 (above). Massed canine choruses contending with choirs of disharmonious, inebriated voices in the small hours as packs of feral quadrupeds protest the infringement on their territory of parties of fuddled bipeds staggering home from the late night clubs and bars of Samara.

Well, that's about enough. Tomorrow I'll say a few words about Togliatti.

19-09-2009, 07:41
Massed canine choruses contending with choirs of disharmonious, inebriated voices in the small hours as packs of feral quadrupeds protest the infringement on their territory of parties of fuddled bipeds staggering home from the late night clubs and bars of Samara.

Such a sentence...such sibilance is seldom seen (I mean heard). Rhythm, too. 50-cent, eat your heart out.

Чакона has one n.

Larry Paradine
20-04-2010, 13:00
On re-reading the original thread, which I started a few years ago, I've decided a short update is needed. Last time my post was bedevilled by internet problems on my desktop computer: now I'm using a mini-laptop that has an alarming habit of cutting out unexpectedly, I've already lost an almost complete draft, and I'll have to submit this in short stges and keep pressing the edit button till I finish, so please make allowances for what may be a post in several episodes.

Larry Paradine
20-04-2010, 14:28
I've just lost it again!! Pressed "edit", edited, pressed "save", got a pop-up telling me I wasn't logged in. logged in, got another pop-up telling me I couldn't log in because I was already logged in. As instructed, pressed the back button and reloaded, got more pop-ups telling me to log in and not to log in. This update is postponed at least until I can contact the geek department for advice.

Larry Paradine
21-04-2010, 12:36
One of the few certainties of life in Samara is that no publicly funded project will be completed on time and within budget limits. The archietypal case is The Samara Metro. I wrote about that when I started this thread a few years ago. Since then, two more stations have been added to the system, but they haven't done much to boost passenger numbers, and the overall impression remains of a line going nowhere in particular. However, when I returned to Samara in the autumn of 2008 after an 18 month absence, there were perceptible signs of progress, mainly in the form of a building site blocking the road in Novo-Sadovaya from Pervomaiskaya to Chelushinskaya, and information signs on the corrugated iron fences informing the curious that they were standing close to the site of Samara's next Metro station. This station would be the first of several along a riverside route that would eventually link up with the railway station, and it's very construction would symbolise triumph over engineeering and financial difficulties that had bedevilled the project for over a decade. It would also, for the first time, provide an entry and exit point sufficiently close to the city centre to tempt moer passengers to use the metro. There were, of course, drawbacks and inconveniences: through traffic was diverted from the affected part of Novo-Sadovaya to Prospekt Leniina, resulting in traffic jams and pollution in what had been one of the quieter and leafier inner city thoroughfares, and the road closure had been a death blow for many retail businesses. However, as one local remarked stoically, in another nine months life in the area could be expected to return to normal.

21-04-2010, 12:54
I've been to Samara several times but never used metro...

21-04-2010, 14:26
I don`t like Samara at all, may be cause I lived in Samara region for a long time. As about structure of this city- it`s my impression- unsistem city without particular sence .. looks like- all about all and nothing. But the main thing i hate being to Samara or talking with people from this city - it`s the position of this people, may be I `ve met only bad or such uneducated persons, but when u contact with different people every day and all of them do the same things - it looks very strange. they think they are the centre ot this world, someone is very rud, when u try talk to someone in the public transport- and say them the phrase like ~Bless U- they flinch the moment i said it, as i~ve said - go and jump in the lake.

so, it`s a great to visit very beutiful city on vacations or visit your good friends who i suppos very good people, but not living there

Larry Paradine
21-04-2010, 14:40
As I was saying when I was so rudely interrupted and cut off ("The Administrator has ruled you can not edit your post for more than 60 minutes after posting"), in the winter of 2008-2009 there seemed a real prospect of the city's metro eventually becoming a popular and viable branch of the transport network. Now, 15 months later, I've returned for a brief visit to find that the big hole in Novo-Sadovaya, surrounded by towering cranes and rusting excavating machinery, is still blocking the highway, but residents of adjoining tower blocks are enjoying unprecedented peace and quiet because, not only is there almost no traffic noise, but the din from the construction site has ceased, as has construction itself. What happened? Ask any local and, for reply, you'll get a resigned shrug of the shoulders and a laconic "Денег нет!"

To those citizens who grumble that the metro mess is a blot on the city's escutcheon, I offer the consolation that the Samara Metro may soon be immortalised in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most frequently delayed, badly planned and over budget public transport initiative.

21-04-2010, 14:47
I offer the consolation that the Samara Metro may soon be immortalised in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most frequently delayed, badly planned and over budget public transport initiative.

i fully agree with U

Larry Paradine
22-04-2010, 22:41
Residents of Самарская Область were the only people in Russia, in fact the only people in Europe, who didn't lose an hour's sleep due to the arrival of summer time at 2am on the last Sunday in March. For this, they could thank the local and national governments, which had decreed an end to time zone no. 2 and the incorporation of the oblast within time zone 1, thus ending its anomalous status as the only place on the whole length of the Volga not keeping the same time as Moscow. Were the residents grateful to the authorities for not compelling them to reset their clocks at 2am or putting them through the trauma of getting up at their usual Sunday time only to realise that they had an hour less to accomplish their tasks for the day? Were they heck! Apart from entrepreneurs who welcomed the opportunity to conduct business with clients in Moscow without inconveniences caused by time differences, opinions were almost unanimously unfavourable, if not downright hostile. There wasn't much response to the local Communist Party's call for a massive public demonstration against the change, partly because the government указ was obviously a fait accompli, and partly because only the Party faithful could believe that the leadership really cared about the change or had any motive for demonstrating other than to oppose for the sake of opposing, but there was widespread resentment about a perceived lack of consultation between governors and governed, and a feeling that Samara's lost timezone was a crucial part of it's unique identity, one of the characteristics that distinguished it from the uniformity of most of Western Russia.

07-06-2010, 15:44
Well the time change certainly makes mornings interesting. Dawn is now at 3am in June, while sunset is about 10pm. I think 11pm-4am makes much more sense for the dark hours.

11-06-2010, 10:03




старый губернский город с большая история.
много проблем в настоящем.
но очень красивый город. прекрасный огромный пляж в центре.
есть метро.

я училась в Самаре. это моя Родина.
но я кровь - полька.

сердце - русская.

11-06-2010, 10:10





11-06-2010, 10:24
самая большая площадь в Европе.
площадь Куйбышева


много стройка



ж/д вокзал


пляж. осень.


11-06-2010, 14:30
2) Stray dogs. I'm not a dog hater, I get up early every morning to take a large, energetic and deplorably undisciplined mongrel for an hour's dash through our local forest, and yes I'm fully aware that every Russian city has a large population of pariah dogs, but Samara's packs of strays are becoming a major problem and I regret that the new mayor backtracked on a campaign pledge to take some, albeit unspecified, positive action and passed the poisoned chalice to a committee, the bureaucratic equivalent of hiding one's head in the sand (perhaps to avoid the dreadful vision of Brigitte Bardot descending on Samara at the head of an army of dedicated defenders of the rights of feral canines.)






и кот



11-06-2010, 15:21




11-06-2010, 15:37




21-09-2010, 10:37
Самара. вокзал.




вид со смотровой площадки:





Larry Paradine
21-09-2010, 22:03
Soleil888 your photos are wonderful. I have a request: please can you take some photos of other photos, i.e. the exhibitions of photos about Samara by local photographers that are often displayed on boards erected in the park at Площад Куйбищева (I think I've misspelled that). On my last visit, a few months ago, there was one of the best collections of Great Patriotic War photos I've seen anywhere. Some years ago, the city authorities were broadminded enough to permit an exhibition of photos portraying a sadder side of Samara, destitute children in a children's home. I recommend these occasional exhibitions (which can often be viewed in spring and autumn, not just in summer) to anyone who wants a good (and free!) insight into the city's unique culture.