Yes, the Dacha & Horses project is still alive. You can stay in a nearly deserted village of Dubrovki near Staritsa, in the rolling hills of the Upper Volga, ride gentle home-made horses, explore caves, visit Staritsa, Bernovo, or other nearby towns, raft, observe collective farms that remained largely unchanged since the Soviet days, or just immerse yourself into lazy dacha atmosphere.

The rate is still 1500 roubels ($50) per day for accommodation [Sept. 2015: 2000roubles/day, or $40], basic food, and often unlimited horse riding. Access to horses depends on the number of people present, and during working days, especially off season (see www.staritsa.info >> Winter is the Soul of Russia) you may be the only guest, in which case all three animals and the undivided attention of Dima are yours.


The setup and service are basic. Running hot water, although usually available, in not guaranteed. Russian countryside largely consists of mud, manure, flies, burdock, and annoying drunks, with an occasional inclusion of an unhappy western tourist. Please pause for a moment before signing in to contemplate that for $50 is it impossible to consistently deliver more that $50. The concept was geared to local of very average income level, students, families with kids, and my favourite type, confirmed certified card-carrying losers. Only authenticity enthusiasts please. No resource wasters who exchange 50 e-mails to show up for one night and even then demand a discount (“but we didn’t ride hooorses”) please.

No, I’m no longer actively involved there myself. Dima took over and is doing a great job keeping the place going almost as originally intended. “Almost” means that the naive notion of recreating a classic Russian estate have been scrapped. Ours is an example of how aspirations of early 90s transformed to pragmatism of the Putin-forever era. Now Uncle Pasha’s Dacha is but a small rural retreat, and the founder itself is living off the rest of his days doing odd jobs and loafing around. Proceed to www.unclepasha.com to see how he can still be of service to humanity in exchange for a few kopecks. Sic transit etc.

Yes, I can still assist in planning your trip and communicating with Dima, whose English remains limited. If in Moscow I can take you to Staritsa in an old truck but be warned that an increasing number of people refuse a ride on seeing it. The trip can include small towns on the way. These may be Klin (associated with Tchaikovski), Tver, Krasnogorsk (military history museums), New Jerusalem (a monument to the church schism and imperial ambitions), Volokolamsk, Zubtsov and Rzhev (WW2) etc. We can even make a detour and go through Sergiev Posad, then that monastery near Volokolamsk, founded by Joseph Volotsky(?), a famous fighter for the purity of faith (read “a jerk who enjoyed imprisoning his opponents, applying strappado, cutting out their tongues, and burning them”) who did build one of the most pleasant to look at monasteries. My small town stuff is migrating to www.staritsa.info. Offers of “alternative” trips and my other attempts to sell myself as guide, driver, fixer, or whatever are there too.  Please note Misery Tourist (c) and Winter is the Soul of Russia (c). For a while I was hoping these proposal will make me famous and allow to pay off damn credit cards. Now I accept that at best they attract a weirdo of my ilk once a year at most. Progressing through life is a humbling experience.

Continuing with this site in not a high priority in my books, and I’ll leave it in midstream except for an occasional look to be sure it is up, registration is valid, plugins are updated, and spam deleted. But no, I will not be looking at it daily as I do with project that are my direct responsibility. Thus this prominently featured summary to help a first-time visitor make sense out of this mess of pages. Still, I encourage you to explore this incomplete site or its equally deficient previous version, or the Russian original, new and especially old.

Contact details

Dima: senior.polyackoff@yandex.ru, +7 920 155 7003.  Speaking to him in English is nearly useless but he will understand text messages. Unless the situation is urgent e-mail him with a copy to me.

Pasha: paul_voytinsky@yahoo.com, manfriday@yandex.ru, +7 921 155 5432. Pasha is me.  I’m online way more than I want to so you are likely to get a fast and possibly meaningful response except I may not know if Dima can receive you at this given moment. Giving him a quick call on your behalf is no problem though.

Popular search phrases

I’m plodding my way through russian-horse-ride statistics as part of my lame effort to keep this site up. PLEASE NOT THAT THE PROJECT ITSELF IS ALIVE AND WELL but since 95% of our guests are now Russians, the English version can’t be actively developed. To amuse you let me share the most popular search phrases. These are

  • horse cart
  • uncle pasha
  • free online dating
  • horse riding
  • sex cams
  • porn chat
  • brides from Tver
  • brothels in Tver
  • bus twer stariza
  • drugs in tver
  • heroin addition in tver
  • horse sex

I don’t have much current knowledge on the drug scene in Tver. My understanding is that the Russian brides industry in Tver has collapsed but I can recommend a good agency in Ryazan instead. See www.staritsa.info > Ryazan. You may find a few dating agencies my clients have recommended at www.where.cheap-moscow.com. For sex with horses I’d contact BDSM circles. I think I have a few links to these in my Guide to Moscow. Oh, prostitutes along major highways have typical heroin user faces (years ago I participated in a filming project that involved heroin users and Tver prostitutes) and may sent you the right way. As of the time of writing this (April 2013) there are lots of them along Kievskoye shosse as you approach Kaluga and they too have “heroin” faces. For horse cart makers see my Moscow Drivers > Other talents.

Hope the above helps in finding what you are looking for, whatever it is.

Moving to a semi-dedicated server, interruptions possible

I am in the middle of moving mine (and that of DimaOlesyaMarishaAlexandra, and Kandalaksha Nature Reserve) stuff. We are in the midstream at the moment.

Having failed to find a consultant/assistant to outsource my IT troubles to, I’m now doing it myself, with all the associated risks. So far, after a few hours of manipulations, the sites and forums are still up, very much to my own surprise. BUT PLEASE REPORT IF ANYTHING APPEARS WRONG.

Advice from webmastering authorities will restore my faith in humanity. So far I was not able to find a knowledgeable consultant who would respond quick and to the point.

Stumbled into a 2009 story

Just found this one: http://blogs.elcomercio.pe/cincocontinentes/2012/12/viajar-a-rusia.html. It is in Spanish but I think it mentions us in the context of Russian Misery Tourism (c) which I was hoping would make me famous. Then, when things started looking ugly here, poking fun at it all somehow lost its appeal. Hope the story mentions us favourably but even  – and especially – critical reviews tend to be informative so I’m adding it to the Client Feedback category without struggling through Spanish to see exactly what the article says. Look about 1/4 of the way down Daniel Barreto’s page on his Russian trip.

See also We in the media >>

Updating Drupal – need help

I need to upgrade two Drupal boards. Instructions are at http://drupal.org/upgrade but they are beyond me. Can anybody help? Just doing it would be great but taking me through the process would be even better.

Wish I stayed away from Drupal. I’ve been with boards2go.com for years and love it. For $20 a year at most it is ad-free. The layout hasn’t changed since 1997. Whenever possible, outsource! But it is too late now, I have two or three Drupal boards on my hands, and need to upgrade them because Hostgator says that not doing so is a security risk..


Attention budget enthusiasts or Russian Misery Tourism (c) fans! The famous Dutch Loft is back. $40-50/night steps from Red Square.

My apartment that’s available for rent to travellers clever enough to locate and recognize by far the best of Moscow accommodation offers is out of circulation till at least the end of May 2013. Alla, who’ll be staying there with her daughter and mother, will be happy to avail a place to sleep (probably the couch or the famous Dutch Loft) to a pleasant and sociable (English practice is part of her motivation) traveller.

The rate I suggest is $40-50 per night, which remains by far the best price. The closest competitor would be a hostel with a room shared with 4-6 unpredictable characters, often of different sex. Or a hotel way in the outskirts of the city even though I don’t think there is anything left for that rate.

Russian bride seekers please note that Alla is connected into an extensive network of single professional women of 30-40 age range, and can help you in your search. More on Russian brides here >>


Culprit found

It was WP Super Cache set up according to Hostgator.com instructions. They, the Hostgator.com guys, obviously wanting to reduce traffic, told us dumb users to opt for aggressive caching. No matter what happens on the site the visitor sees what was there 2-3 weeks ago. Advice by www.mywpexpert.com to move to hostgator.com was not exactly the best one I’ve received. Three times hostgator.com blocked my sites because of “excess CPU usage”. For duck’s sake all of them together get 500 visitors per day most! Hate to move but may have to.

If you had this situation – updated versions not showing – after installing WP Super Cache, make sure you check

 Clear all cache files when a post or page is published or updated

Then every time something changes cache is cleared.

Tested it. Seems to work.

Dima, Marisha, Olesya etc.

Please check that recent updates are seen even to a visitor who hasn’t logged in. I did and it seems to work. But this WordPress – damn be the day I heard the name – is full of tricks. I may have left some test messages undeleted. Please trash them.

Damn WordPress again

It came to my attention that two week old version of my sites show up. I’ll be checking into it right now. Suspect it is the caching plugin that I was forced to install by Hostgator who claims my five pathetic little sites generate enough traffic to slow down their whole server. For now try clearing the cache. Registered users too get to see the real one, not an old cached copy…