Vladimir, the Golden Ring of Russia

We went to Vladimir in May but I didn't have time to properly arrange the material so it's a bit late. Here I'm going to write about what guides are like in Russia, our experience of checking in hotels, and nice things you can buy from a souvenir shop.

Vladimir is an administrative centre of the Vladimirsky region about 200 km from Moscow, one of the  cities of the Golden Ring of Russia. Population is about 350 thousand people. The city is older than Moscow(1147),  was founded in 1108.  Since 1157 it was the capital of Russia.

The city is on the Klyaz'ma River and several hills which makes it very picturesque.

It is particularly famous for the Uspensky Cathedral with the restored frescoes by Andrey Rublev and Daniil Cherny (1158) and Dmitrievsky Cathedral (1194). Those are the sights tourists are dragged to by unimaginative tourist agents in Vladimir regardless the fact they could show them more aspects of it.

The picture below is the view of Uspensky Cathedral from the Museum of Local History (ethnographical).

I detest tourist agencies since they take their responsibilities formally and have neither energy, no imagination  to get customers really interested. Guides are normally superficial, tired people without thorough knowledge of history or architecture. And being ordered around "Get off the bus, get on the bus" even turns me off more than listening to  tired women  trying to fill me with some boring facts, figures, unnecessary dates, heights, widths, weights...Of course, there's always an exception to every rule, but they used to disappoint me so often that I stopped relying on them.

 Accommodation is important to make your holidays complete.

First off, if you are going to Vladimir by yourself, you should know the following:
1. the city is on the hills so it's principal that you stay at a hotel in the city centre, otherwise, you 'll have to walk up and down the hills along roads and paths of different levels of "walkability". If you're short of time, this may become quite a problem: the hills are high and far from each other.
2. since a more or less comfortable hotel is not cheap anywhere in Russia, you may try checking in earlier, at night, the way we usually do it: last time we arrived in Vladimir at 1 am and called 2-3 hotels checking out where they would let us pay for 1 night, considering the following day had started already. We succeeded and checked in at night with a veiw to staying the following night and being charged for 1 night only.
3. the city is something to see but its newly-built areas are monotonously ugly and boring and you certainly don't want to see the way people live there with ever-lasting beer-drinking and sitting on benches in yards, so even if you're tempted to stay in the outskirts at lower prices, avoid it.

About the hotels: well, there are plenty of them. So, when you decide where to stay, check out the reviews.You will certainly be offered the one called "Zolotiye Vorota" ("The Golden Gate") which I think is not the best idea. We arrived in Vladimir late on a Saturday evening and tried our trick with a really early check-in (which didn't work there): the receptionist even didn't let my husband see the rooms! The policy is: you pay first, then we'll put you up somewhere. On top of that, there is a disco next to the hotel and music was playing so loudly, I'm not sure I would be able to get to sleep there at all.  Our holiday would certainly have been spoilt.

Anyways, it was such great luck we didn't stay there. "Vladimirsky Dvorik", situated in a quiet green backyard street, became a nice place to stay at with its welcoming and helpful but not obtrusive receptionists. 

Everything is very clean, the room and the bathroom are spacious. Free slippers, soap, shampoo, safe, bathrobes. There is a car park nearby which you might not like. If you stay on the first floor in the rooms on the right: people might drive their cars passing by your window. It happens very rarely (say, twice a day). We didn't mind it, but for some it could be irritating.

 They serve breakfast in your room, there's no space for the restaurant. However, I find it convenient: you just have to choose the dishes on the menu beforehand and the following morning you'll get your breakfast at the time you want. There are different dishes they offer: from pancakes with meat or fried eggs to porridge.

Big Moscow (Bolshaya Moskovskaya) street is a nice place for lesurely walking with its cheap and welcoming cafes, eateries, restaurants.

In the souvenir shop: lapty (walking shoes made of birch tree bark), at around 20 dollars as far as I remember.

 Baba Yaga - a malicious old woman, famous character of Russian folk stories. The souvenir shop on Bolshaya Moskovskaya street even houses the Museum of Baba Yaga, which is not free, though.
Just the boxes I liked )

Bolshaya Moscovskaya street

More about Vladimir Art centre and restraurants.
You might also want to learn more about Tver, another former capital of Russia.

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