Yesterday Olympiad participants visited the town of Bolgar, where they we able to see such sights as the Bolgar Museum, the White Mosque and the largest Koran in the world. They also stopped over at the Bread Museum and tried some of Tatar cuisine’s most choice foods.
The weather was fine, and the atmosphere delightful. A light breeze blowing in off the Volga, a reenactment festival, capable volunteers and responsive guests – what more does a good excursion need?
Our guests were very inquisitive – after a short introduction to the history of the Volga Bulgars, they made their way to the White Mosque. The main stars were one of the Danish contingent who flooded the guide with questions about the history of the area, and the sharply dressed set from Vietnam who from time to time sheltered from the sun’s blaze under an umbrella.
Guests were then shown the Uspensky Cathedral, where they were told about the history of the settlement, as well as what life in Bolgar was like a few centuries ago. On the leaving the museum the Jordanian team helped everyone else understand the Arabic inscriptions in the Tatar Burial Chamber.
The tour was followed by a sumptuous lunch. People of all countries tried some of the Tatar delicacies, which proved very popular. The Vietnamese spent ages working out what every dish was called, while the Mexicans were convinced that at some point the Tatar’s had “stolen” a popular Mexican dish and renamed it a “belesh”. That said, they freely admitted the Tatar version turned out better.
The “Chatterbox of the day” award goes to Shmuel Adar from Israel, who managed to talk to absolutely everybody. He was the source of most of the guide’s questions, and it was usually him at the centre of every discussion.
Great Bolgar greeted us with wonderful weather and left us all with a warm heart.