Visiting Ulyanovsk.

Visiting Ulyanovsk.

Ulyanovsk still takes pride in Vladimir Lenin, who was born in Ulyanovsk. Visiting Ulyanovsk is like taking a step back in town to old Soviet times.

This past summer I was cycling around Russia during the football world cup. On my way from Saransk to Samara, I passed Ulyanovsk. I didn’t really have time to stay. But I decided to come back after I had watched a football game in Samara, as I thought this city was worth giving a little more time.

Ulyanovsk has a charming city center.

Ulyanovsk has a charming city center.

The city really intrigued me. In one way it was a city with a charming town center. Nightlife also looked really good. But on the other hand, the city was full of tributes to Lenin.

The Lenin memorial in Ulyanovsk.

The Lenin memorial in Ulyanovsk.

A museum that celebrates Lenin and communism.

Vladimir Lenin, who led the Russian revolution and founded the Sovietunion, was born in Ulyanovsk. When the wall came down in 1989 and the Sovietunion collapsed in 1991, most people thought that Lenin was a thing of the past. His statues were torn down in many cities around the world. It looked like he would never be celebrated again.

But since Vladimir Putin became president of Russia, Lenin has made a big comeback in Russia. He is very openly celebrated around the city. And there is a huge museum for the old communist leader.

Vladimir Putin has a large portrait at the Lenin memorial.

Vladimir Putin has a large portrait at the Lenin memorial.

One thing that I found very interesting about the museum is how it also celebrates Vladimir Putin. Putin clearly has no problem being in the same museum as Lenin. They even have a corner in the museum that also celebrates Josef Stalin.

Mikhail Gorbachev has a little mention in the museum too. But it’s quite small. Considerably smaller than the area that celebrates Josef Stalin, for instance. I’m not a person who has any nostalgia for the Sovietunion. But I thought it was damn interesting that there is still a city that so openly celebrates a system that went completely bankrupt.

Stalin is honored too at the Lenin memorial.

Stalin is honored too at the Lenin memorial.

Ulyanovsk is a friendly city.

Some people might think now that Ulyanovsk is a place that does not like westerners. But I actually found it to be one of the friendliest places I visited in Russia. I ended up spending a few days there, because I found the place interesting. But also because it was close to a few of the world cup cities.

Because Ulyanovsk was not a world cup city, it was cheaper to stay there. The city had many football fans from around the world staying there because of that. Ulyanovsk was especially filled with Latinamerican football fans when I was there. And that only made the party better.

 The locals were flocking to the cafes and pubs to meet the foreign visitors and talk to them. They seemed very keen to show that they were not against all the foreign visitors.

Talking to many of the local youngsters I learned that this was in many ways the first time that they got to interact with westerners, who are often as stigmatised in Russia as Russians are in the west. But when we meet we tend to find out that we are all not that different from each other. And get along really fine, even if our governments try to portray us as being enemies.

It was very hard not to end up with a few free beers and several free vodka shots, when visiting one of the local pubs. Visiting Ulyanovsk was certainly a positive thing, in terms of local hospitality.

Late at night in a bar in Ulyanovsk :-)

Late at night in a bar in Ulyanovsk 🙂

My favourite street in Ulyanovsk.

Should you be visiting Ulyanovsk, then I would recommend the street called Ulitsa Federatsii. It’s right in the center of Ulyanovsk. It’s a nice little street with old houses and a lot of bars and cafes. It was like a little party village in an otherwise fairly stylish town.

I also stayed at a hostel on that street. It was a hostel, but they also had private rooms, which I booked. It was called Apelsin Hostel and was very friendly and helpful. They spoke very little but Russian there. But google translate sorted all problems. 

I might also add that I went out until late every night I was in Ulyanovsk. And I did not find the streets to be unsafe in any way. It was rather the other way around, with people always making sure that I was doing ok.

Ulitsa Federatsii is a nice street.

Ulitsa Federatsii is a nice street.

Did you know that Lenin had a cat with no name?

Like many other people, Lenin had a cat. But Lenin never gave his cat a name. He said that by giving an animal a name you pretend to own the animal. And he was against private ownership. 🙂

Lenin and his cat.

Lenin and his cat.

So if you happen to be in this part of Russia, then I would certainly recommend that you spend at least a couple of days visiting Ulyanovsk.

It’s like stepping right in to world history.

If you are interested in reading about my travels around Russia, then I have an article about my cycling tour around Russia during the 2018 World Cup on this link.

3 Comments

  1. what kind of bike lock do you have?

  2. Awesome, dude! By the way, I’m from Ulyanovsk, you are very welcome in our city 🙂 pls, let me know if you need more info about it 🙂

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