This afternoon Josh and I, via a short bus ride from Vladimir, arrived in the picturesque Russian village of Suzdal. Located in Russian’s Golden Ring, around 200 km from Moscow, this quiet little market town of approximately 12,000 people is best known for its beautiful kremlin, scenic views, and disproportionately large collection of churches. We had booked to stay in ‘Godzillas Hostel’ for 3 nights, hoping to make the most of the recent good weather and the surrounding countryside to gear ourselves up for the intensity of the coming trips to St.Petersburg and Moscow. Upon arriving at the hostel, a beautiful large log cabin with roomy dormitories and well designed features, we were met by a surly Russian who didn’t speak a word of English, and who informed us that there was no kitchen on the premises. This rather flew in the face of our plans to cook for ourselves over the next few days, and also seemed to directly contradict the information on both the internet, and the rather large kitchen that was clearly on show in one of the outhouses. Questioning our ever so helpful host about this new development he said something about gas and then just kept crossing his arms and making surly remarks, leading me to jump to the (admittedly rather hasty conclusion) that there was no gas in the kitchen. Thankfully Josh had spotted a rather large BBQ pit in the garden, and after pointing to various items of wood and then insinuating that I wished to burn something similar, I was eventually told (or rather pointed and shrugged at) that yes there was wood, but that no I was too weak to fetch it. I kept inisiting that I wanted the wood, and eventually our amicable host put down the the TV remote for 20 seconds, walked the 30m to the wood store, and dumped a few large logs right in the middle of an even larger puddle. Service with a smile.
Thankfully our delightful new friend had not counted on over a combined decade of scouting experience, my stubborness to avoid eating in overpriced and heavily subsidised restaurants (a selection of which a certain someone was only too happy to recommend), or my brother’s ingenuity. A couple of hours, an old Russian Avon catalogue, and a hollowed-out beer can later we were feasting on cheese burgers and jacket potatoes with a side helping of Russian chargrin. The jacket potatoes (cooked in tins of sweetcorn) may have been as paltable as Grumpy’s constant checking up on us, but the cheese burgers were actually damn tasty. Tomorrow night Josh has said something about cooking fish and a selecetion of vegetables, which may or may not involve the use of a hollowed out tree trunk. At any rate, it promises to be a meal infused with irritation and dripping with displeasure; none of which shall be ours.