Photo Friday: Samovar Cafe

For this week’s Photo Friday, here is a picture I took when I ventured to Nikolaevsk, Alaska, a remote village of Russian Old Believers. I was visiting Homer alone for a few days, and was looking for something a little different to do that day. A local guidebook described four remote villages of Russian Old Believers, a sect that split from the mainstream Russian Orthodox church more than 300 years ago and set out to find a place to practice their religion in peace. So I set out in my rental car to experience a small taste of their culture.

This is Nina Fefelov, proprietor of the Samovar Cafe in Nikolaevsk, Alaska. The village seemed rather empty of people the day I was there; Nina said the weather was so nice that everyone had gone fishing! But I had read that most of the Old Believers want to keep to themselves and dislike tourists, so maybe that was for the best. Nina, who is the exception and considers herself something of a town ambassador to the outside world, served me amazing cream puffs, but was disappointed when I declined her borscht. (I’ve tried, but I just don’t like beets.) Her cafe is filled with Russian memorabilia, and I do mean filled. The photo shows only a tiny fraction of her collection. She even dressed me up and photographed me as a traditional Babushka, and then posed for several pictures herself, including this one.

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