Art retreat in Plyos – a Town for Life’s Artists! 

Maria Ushakova

How many of you have heard of a town called  PLYOS on the river Volga? How many of you have had a chance to visit it? Not many yet, I am sure. Well, things are about to change, as charming, hidden towns in Russia are beginning to become HITS for tourists, and PLYOS is one of the most beautiful and culture-rich of such towns. Russian internal tourism is growing day by day and more and more Russians and foreigns alike are travelling to these quiet hidden corners of this gigantic country. I am very proud and happy to be a part of this touristic movement and contribute to it’s growth in a very special way.

As part of my Expat Travel Club regular activities, I decided to combine my passion for art and travelling. I organised a unique weekend art-retreat for some expat artists who are currently residing in Moscow. It wasn’t difficult to choose Plyos, as I had already been there last October; I knew that it wouldn’t leave anyone indifferent.

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Of course, choosing a hotel which would appreciate hosting a group of foreign artists, was the key to the successful trip. I was very lucky. My attention turned to the newly opened 5 star — state of the art La Villa Plyos, (a 5 star wellness spa located on the river Volga, in the picturesque Plyos town in Ivanovo region, about 4.5 hour away from Moscow by train)  The hotel management was very kind when I approached them with my request to bring foreign artists to their Villa with a purpose to hold an art retreat, it turned out that they really appreciate art and culture in general.

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Paintings by Maha Ayoub from Sudan and J H

Apart from long and pleasant ‘plein airs’, our artistic group enjoyed outings to Plyos.We visited the famous ‘Chastny visit’ hotel and restaurant run by a beautiful and very noble lady, Elena Manyenyan, who is a mother to 13 children! For lunch, we tried her amazing QUICHE and Ivan chai at her museum- restaurant and enjoyed writing a review in the guest book in Arabic. The last review in the same book was left by Emir Kusturitsa, who like us enjoyed Elena’s warm welcome and even suggested he would film a movie in Plyos, so inspired he felt by what he has seen. 

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We also went to a museum in Plyos dedicated to Porcelain, run by Jury Borisovich.. a private museum with unique porcelain collection. 

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And, it looks like every house in Plyos has a very talented owner …if not a talented artist, then a famous politician or businessmen, they also like to spend their time in this magnificent Plyos. 

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Just to drop some names to amaze you, here (Shhh, don’t tell anyone), Russian Prime Minister Mr.Medvedev has his favourite dacha here, Mr.Sechin, Mr. Karimov, Mr. Ushakov (Mr.Putin’s adviser and sadly not my relative) frequent the town, and Anna Netrebko (the opera singer) is ten seen walking on Plyos embankment during the summer… with her beloved husband. 

Au revoir! Plyos!  A tres bientot!