Mandrogi in Russia – a marvelous rustic village
The day after incredible Kizhi island we got maps of Mandrogi town where we had just a bit more than 3 hours to spend. It was yet another perfect sunny day and even so warm I could wear just shorts and a tanktop. Very surprising weather for Russia, let me tell you!
Still onboard, we learned from Elena, our guide, that the original Verkhnie Mandrogi village (meaning Upper Falls) from the 18th century was completely destroyed by the Nazis during the WWII. Then, in 1990’s Sergei Gutsait (sometimes also spelled as Gutzeit) established a new village and thus revived what once existed here. So now Mandrogi is a modern village and all the buildings are new but very picturesque.
Being the patron of arts, the St. Petersburg entrepreneur Sergei first built a hotel here in 1996 and then invited artists to settle in the area to revive the village and make it a tourist destination. His plan was literally to make it a stop for cruises sailing between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Nowadays most of the houses we can see here are full of different artists where we can see workshops of how they make traditional Russian artefacts and souvenirs, such as matryoshkas, clothes, hats, paintings, etc.
On the other hand, Mandrogi is very popular for the Russian rich people from St. Petersburg. They come here for winter holidays as it offers many activities to spend their leisure time, such as sledging, horseback riding, pancake workshops. So the guesthouses are not cheap there and usually they are sold a few months ahead, especially for winter around Christmas.
Once we learned all this the previous night, we could disembark at 11 am. Elena walked some of us for a few minutes just to show us the most interesting sights and then we had free time.
First, with my mum we took a walk to the woods around a little lake just to get the feeling of nature after having visited all the towns. The forest reminded us of our forests in Slovakia, the trees were very similar, and also the flowers and the smell.
”It feels like at home at our grandparents’ village, right?” I told my mum on the way back.
”Exactly the same.” Mum nodded.
We also walked around the Russian banya sauna (number 43, 44 and 45 on the map.) There’s supposed to be a beach to swim on the shore between the 28 and 43 numbers on the map but we didn’t really see anyone swimming there.
Frankly, I fell in love with the log cabins and all the other buildings in Mandrogi. So rustic, yet so romantic! They were all massive, wooden and some even decorated with different animals and other sort of tribal designs which slightly reminded me of paintings I saw in the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough in Canada. Seeing painted wooden crocodiles sticking out of some roofs was very interesting!
After entering a few buildings with laces and glass workshops where I could not stop admiring how skilled the artists were, we sat down in the middle of the field full of thousands of yellow dandelions. All I could see when looking around was yellow colour which definitely put a huge smile on my face.
Other things you can find in Mandrogi in Russia:
- Pancakes blinis at number 31 with real Russian stove.
- a horse farm where you can give some TLC to horses or even go around Mandrogi on a horse carriage with a female Russian driver dressed up in traditional cotume.
- famous Vodka museum with more than 2,000 bottles from all over Russia.
- a football field where the cruise crew members play football.
- a helicopter pad next to the football field used by Putin.
- at number 13 on the map a ferry takes you to the Pushkin fairytale island with a small ZOO and wooden sculptures from Pushkin’s literature.
- the best Russian pirogi or piroshki are made there at the restaurant number 32 where you can get some from. They are completely different to what we call pirohy in Slovak cuisine and to me looked more like stuffed buns or cakes. They bake different flavours, such as with berries, mushrooms, meat, condensed milk… I had to try one with cloudberries (called moroshka in Russian) as I’ve never tried it and I am such a huge fan of all inds of berries.
- another typical Russian treat ty try in Mandrogi is called kvas (sometimes spelled with double s as kvass) with maximum of 0.5 alcohol made of fermented bread. It has a very peculiar taste to is but if you are into these things, go for it (of course I did not.)
- try mors – refreshing non-carbonated local beverage of berries.
After a short walk, we had lunch under one of the tents. It was time was traditional Russian shashlik and as it’s a meat meal, I could not be happier to find a vegetarian/vegan option, too. So I had grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, rice and fresh veggie salad.
The atmosphere at lunch was unforgettable as a band played traditional songs for us. One guy played crazy well and gave us all chills. My whole body was shaking to the rhythm and I could not even blink to miss a second, that awesome the band was!
We finished the lunch with a sweet dessert – an apple piroshki. I was so full!
Afterwards, we still had some time in Mandrogi, so walked some more around the old village with more workshops inside. The houses there are designed in traditional Russian way dating a century or two ago, really beautiful!
Mandrogi village is located on the bank of the river Svir which is so pretty here, probably even nicer than the Volga river. So I let my mum visit more workshops and I walked behind the old mill to refresh in the river. All I could handle were feet inside the cold water and I sprayed the rest of my legs and my arms with it. I will always remember the reflection of the clouds and coniferous trees on the river surface with a little drone helicopter flying above my head controlled by my new Russian friend also called Alex.
My visit to Mandrogi in Russia was finished with a few more yoga poses in yet another dandelion field next to our Rachmaninov cruise ship.
Paying a visit to Mandrogi in Russia was part of Rachmaninov cruise booked via Gvidon Tours.