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Europe » Russia » South » Volgograd October 31st 2013

Firstly, apologies on how late and rushed this one is. The next will be better, I promise! I arrived in Volgograd mid-afternoon on Tuesday and walked to my hostel on Heroes Alley. Volgograd is probably better known to history buffs as Stalingrad, but before Stalingrad it was called Tsaritsyn, 'Yellow River'. Founded in about 1589 to guard Russia's southern boundary, Tsritsyn was also a trading port. Although it was only named 'Stalingrad' for 39 years, this is the name most people recognise. The Battle of Stalingrad had a devastating effect on the city and the people. I visited Mamaev Kurgan (Hill 102) and the Battle of Stalingrad Museum. Mamaev Kurgan is a monument to the battle and the museum is, well, a museum dedicated to the battle. At Mamaev Kurgan I was given a guided tour ... read more
A soldier on the wall
An Eternal Flame
Factory damaged by the battle

Europe » Russia » South » Sochi September 22nd 2013

Sochi, Russia I am beginning to think that I may never get to Russia. For the second time circumstances have blocked me from entering. The crossing from Trabzon was rough. The wind picked up just as we headed north across the Black Sea and at times it rained heavily. I love the sea when it is rough because I really get to experience the power of nature. It also makes for good sleeping. Not all my shipmates share my enthusiasm. It definitely makes for quieter and less crowded dining in the dining room. In the morning it became clear that there were problems ahead. First the Russians had informed the ship that the port was being reconstructed in anticipation of the Olympic Winter games set to start later this winter. Therefore we would have ... read more

Europe » Russia » South November 24th 2012

Toi den day lan dau bang duong bo 8-2006 va lan 2 bang du thuyen 8-2012. Saint Peterburg nam ben giong song Neva. Vua Alexander I cua nuoc Nga danh bai Sweden nam 1240 lay Saint Peterburg (SP). Sweden lay lai SP vao the ky 17th. Nhung nam sau do Peter the Great I danh bai Swedish va lay lai SP in 1703 and 1712 Peter the Great I bat dau dat SP la Capital cua Soviet. Peter died in 1725 va nguoi ke vi Catherine vo cua Peter the Great doi capital ve Moscow. Sau nay Nu Hoang Soviet la Anna Ionovna (1730-1740) chau cua peter the Great, doi lai thu do ve Saint PeterBurg. Napoleon xam lang Nga 1812 va bi Alexander I danh bai. Cuoc noi loan dam mau tai SP nam 1905 ... read more
Church of Our Savior 8/2006
Red Square, Moscow
Red Square, Moscow 8-2006

Europe » Russia » South » Vladikavkaz August 30th 2012

Once again after over 5 years I accomplished the 2 day journey to Vladikavkaz. This time it was an even bigger pain in the ass than usually, since I wanted to avoid flying Siberia (because Russian airlines have been crashing too often lately and if I remember how Siberia was flying...I'm pretty sure they will start crashing some time soon too.) I flew from Frankfurt to Prague, from Prague to Rostov and from Rostov a 15 hour journey with the train to Vladikavkaz over Minvodi and Beslan. Soo...While I set up this plan I forgot that Southern Russia is as hot as a desert in August and that these 15 hours in the train won't be as "cool" as I thought. It was real sauna. But luckily I got so tired anyway that I slept 13 ... read more
inside the train 33°C, no wind.
reminds us of something,eh?
This view for 15 hours too

Europe » Russia » South » Sochi July 21st 2012

That would be Joseph Stalin's dacha (term used very loosely as most dachi are way, way smaller compared to Uncle Joe's) near Sochi's coast that I toured today. Interesting place set several hundered thickly wooded feet above the Black Sea and totally painted green to blend in with the surrounding environment. There is puportedly an elevator and tunnel to the Black Sea but that was sadly not included with the 300p. tour price. Bummer. Couple more days along the Black Sea then Monday night flying to Yerevan, Armenia via Moscow. There does exist a short, direct one hour flight on one of the Baby-Flots but my flight on S7 was purchased for a mere $25 and 10,000 American Airlines frequent flier miles. Cha-ching! I've already flown on S7 twice and was impressed by the service but ... read more
Entry Courtyard
Stalin's Pool
Peacock Mosaic in the Pool Room

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Europe » Russia » South » Volgograd July 19th 2012

Riveting WWII movie recounting the Battle of Stalingrad as primarily seen by Russian sniper Vasily Zaytsev played by Jude Law. Also starring Ed Harris and Rachel Weisz. The name of the city was changed in 1925 from Tsaritsyn to Stalingrad and again in 1961 to Volgograd, i.e., Volga City Arrived in Adler this afternoon where, like this same time last year, it is extremely hot and packed with summer holidaying Russians. Accommodation and food For the roughly 24 hours total I would spend in Volgograd I had always been planning to be able to find a bed at the train station hotel because it was really the only budget option in town. Not only that it was very convenient to all the sights. It was huge, maybe 100 beds or more, and I had no problem ... read more
Мамаев Курган
Мамаев Курган
Мамаев Курган

Europe » Russia » South » Caucasus » Mt. Elbrus June 20th 2012

This entry I’m really proud of though from a professional alpinist’s point of view Elbrus might seem a mere trifle. It takes so much time to compose my thoughts and write it all down though I made brief notes during the trek. I bought the trek with a Ukrainian company for 350 Euros and our group included only Belarusian and Ukrainian citizens, I was the only one from Russia. We met in Pyatigorsk on the 20th of June and the small bus took us to Elbrus village where Elbrus treks and summiting usually begins. The road took about three hours. The guide, Maxim, was a professional alpinist; there were also two other alpinists, one a guide (Alexander) and the other a friend of Maxim (Alexey) who joined our group out of the desire to check his ... read more
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DSC01332

Europe » Russia » South » Pyatigorsk June 19th 2012

Pyatigorsk was the starting point of my trip to Mount Elbrus. My spirits, strangely, were not high before the journey. I had worked very hard for three days running after return from Paris and did not have a single spare second to buy the things needed for the mountain trekking, except that I bought a warm jacket in Paris and brought some other items from my hometown beforehand. I would quite literally go to the summit empty-handed but I hoped I’d manage to get things on the spot. I thought about going to Elbrus earlier and had to cancel the plans. The first time I planned to go there in August 2011 with a friend of mine, but decided to cancel it due to some reasons and the friend was very angry with me. But this ... read more
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Lermontov Gallery
Eagle

Europe » Russia » South » Volgograd June 14th 2012

The roadsides are littered with war memorials. They come in all shapes and sizes: tanks, rocket launchers, MIG fighter jets, large Soviet era statues, small star topped stones engraved with names. This, south-west, corner of Russia saw a lot of action during WWII and was occupied by the Germans. We tend to erect monuments honouring the people who fought but the Russians also genuinely honour the equipment too. We got pulled up by a young local for saying “another tank monument” they told us “this tank saved Russian lives, tanks like this helped us in the war, we are grateful to them, why shouldn't we honour them?” We are on our way to Volgograd, still travelling across the Kuban steppe with its giant fields. We're on the E40, the big main road that runs from Rostov-on-Don ... read more
.. they come in all shapes & sizes
Kvas Stop
the best sort of police car

Europe » Russia » South » Sochi June 8th 2012

Where are we – a Buddhist Republic, tea plantations & rice paddies? No its not some exotic Asia destination – its Russia and the European part of Russia at that. On one particular day we start with Buddhist temples in Elista, cross Cossack territory with its golden onion domed churches and end up passing mosques in the snowy Caucuses Mountains. Crossing the Ukraine-Russia border was surprisingly easy and fast. Would have been even quicker if we hadn't kept filling out our customs forms wrong much to the amusement of the border guards. Then we had to get out our Sterling as they had never seen British Pounds before and were really curious. The first houses we pass take me by surprise – single storey wooden houses with 3 windows surrounded by fancy fretwork, absolutely identical to ... read more
 Sea of Azov
Taganrog
Taganrog




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