Mishah was in Nizhniy Novgorod last week - he liked it, was surprised to see lots of good modern architecture. His first sms to me, though, went something like this:
It could've been a very nice town, if it hadn't been for the Bolsheviks.
I was in Nizhniy four years ago - I don't remember much, probably because the Dubrovka/Nord-Ost hostage crisis happened too soon after the trip, but what I remember of the city isn't particularly nice. The weather was lousy, maybe that's why, or perhaps this is how my head functions, the way I notice only the shitty things in this part of the world, and they are the ones I end up remembering... What I remember of some people we met in Nizhniy is extremely nice, though.
Anyway, of the architecture, I remember being horrified by those wooden, dark-brown houses, once pretty, perhaps,but now looking like they are about to fall over, about to collapse and bury their inhabitants underneath the rubbish. These houses had the most beautiful carved decorations around the windows and below the roofs, but that didn't save the overall look. In Chernihiv, here in Ukraine, they have many houses like this, too, but they look a lot more cheerful, they do look cosy and are in a much better shape, and they are especially sweet in winter, when the icicles emphasize the carved patterns in a totally weird - and charming - way. I asked Mishah if he noticed the brown monsters in Nizhniy or perhaps I had dreamed them up, and he said that they were there alright, looking as ugly as I remembered them.
Mishah has posted four images from Nizhniy on his LJ - here. The first photo is of a "boutique" called "A Little Black Dress." The second is of the memorial sign on a residential building:
The sign reads:
This house was built in 1930 for the political exiles who had survived the Tsarist persecution. In 1937-38, most of the building's residents were executed.
To go to Nizhniy Novgorod, you have to buy a ticket for the Moscow-Gorky train. Only God knows why the Russian railway authorities insist on still using the city's old, pre-1990, name.
(Similarly, it's Leningradskaya Oblast - Leningrad Region - whereas the city has been re-named St. Petersburg over a decade ago.)
Here in Pushcha Vodytsya, there're plenty of old houses with carved-wood decorations - but they are deserted and, most likely, beyond repair. What a pity.