Chambers at Large in Mandrogi, Russia.
Mandrogui is not in the guide book as it is a man-made village filled with artisan shops and a vodka museum. Some may call it a tourist trap, but in fairness, it has been created by a group of entrepreneurial people who are exhibiting their skills and making a living (I hope!).
There was the opportunity to take a horse drawn buggy around the island, but it wasn’t far to walk. I spent a fabulous time strolling along the gravel path, enjoying the pine forestry, the different dwellings, all decorative and all made of wood. Eventually I reached the stables where people were learning to ride.
The Russians appear to be very resourceful, apparent when I spotted a shoe cleaning gadget, at the entrance to one house. It had been constructed from three hard bristled brushes. Genius.
I stopped to watch people demonstrating different arts and crafts, all willing to show their skill. There were some making wooden ornaments, others musical instruments and even Christmas decorations from cotton wool and glue. I invested in a water colour for €20, which was excellent value for money. The painting has been framed and is on my wall.
It seems Russia is embracing capitalism, with euros, dollars and roubles welcomed as currency, but there was no hard sell from anyone, just willingness to do business with civility.
Time was passing quickly and I didn’t have time to pop into the vodka museum. I’m not overkeen on the spirit, but fellow travellers told me there was a vast choice, for a variety of pockets.
Best wishes to all the entrepreneurs and if you want to go to a tourist trap in the UK or Ireland, then I suggest you look closer to home. No names mentioned.