We've enjoyed our stay in Samara and are looking forward to getting back on the Volga this morning after breakfast. The water has sped up since the Tolyatti dam, so paddling has been a bit more productive, at least for the moment. We have two more dams to portage in the next couple of weeks, so there are several more reservoirs to cross before Volgagrad (the last dam). The Samara Bend lives up to the reports we've read of it's beauty and the city of Samara is a welcome sight, with one of the most substantial promenades we've ever seen anywhere in the world. Ringed on the west by a white sand beach and the Volga and the other side by the sparkling city of Samara, the promenade is alive with in-line skaters, walkers, runners, bikers and many people enjoying the great weather and view. There's plenty of room for everyone. Statues adorn the walk between cafes. Music plays in the evening when more people turn out after work. Its a very pleasant place to hang out and will be difficult to leave behind.
During our one evening stay, Jeff and In took the advice from our Lonely Planet book and caught a taxi to U Palycha, a highly recommended Russian restaurant. It took a little work to find it, though is was exactly where it was described in the book. The only indicator that you've found it is a small door on the corner across from the Lutheran Church. After asking a fellow to help us and being blown off, we found the restaurant ourselves. Palycah is in the basement of a large building and it's specialty is pelmeni--which was recommended by Julia in Ulyanovsk. Man, the décor, the service and the food were all pretty amazing-especially compared to eating comida plastic, kielbasa and Snickers while sitting on rocks.
The Hotel "Volga" is directly across the street from the Volga RIver, though we will have to haul our boats/gear a block or two around the hotel, as they are stored in the back-then across the promenade, which is a couple hundred yards wide. While a good distance, this will be a bit easier than the dam at Tolyatti.
We really hope to come back to Samara with our families some day. It's truly a beautiful beach town.