Blogs from Russia, Europe - page 5

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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Omsk May 20th 2014

Omsk and Tomsk are ten hours and 49 minutes apart, flanking the better known city of Novosibirsk. Omsk is a city is southwestern Siberia, the second largest city east of the Urals with 1.1 million population. Siberian Cossacks settled the region, though they were neither land owners or peasants. But they did participate in military conflicts on behalf of the Tsars. The city stretches along the banks of the Irtysh River where is joins the smaller Om River. It is an important railway hub, and is the junction of the northern and southern routes of the Trans Siberian Railway. Construction of the railway galvanized the growth of the city back at the turn of the century. It also serves as a major highway hub. The waterways connect Omsk to coal and mineral mining further up the ... read more

Europe » Russia » Urals » Yekaterinburg May 20th 2014

I am leaving Irkutsk today for Yekaterinburg, my next stop, an almost two full days away. It has been pleasant to get off the train and explore the area like a real tourist. Watching or observing from afar is certainly different than getting my hands dirty, so to speak. But I am ready now to continue my "journey of a lifetime". Km 5178 Irkutsk This is still along way to Moscow, and the more European parts of Russia. This is still mostly Asia in feel, and totally Siberia in appearance. Mostly taiga, some tundra, and there is a difference. I will let you look it up. Km 5124 Usole-Sibirskoye Often called the salt capital of Siberia, it was made the old fashioned way until 1956. They pumped salty water from shallow wells into pans and left ... read more
Smoked omul, a real Russian treat
Dining car food, rather Russian and bland

Europe » Russia » Volga » Nizhny Novgorod May 20th 2014

Well, after 7374 Km, or 4582 miles, I am still 1816 Km (1128 miles) from Moscow. This will be a much shorter, but perhaps more densely populated portion of the trip. Certainly Siberia and most of Asia is behind me. This is Europe, and soon the Urals, and the more industrial parts of Russia. Km 1777 Europe-Asia Border Obelisk This marks the continental division here in the Urals. This large white stone obelisk is about 15 meters to the east of the Vershina railway platform. factory now makes motorcycles. Km 1534 Kungur This was a stockade town and transit point on the Siberian Trakt, now famous for the Kungur Ice Cave. The Cave is 10 to 12,000 years old. It is 5.7 Km long, with 48 grottos, underground lakes, and hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites. Of ... read more
My friends from Australia flanking their Russian guide
Wait, wait!  I need to be on that train!!!!

Europe » Russia » Urals » Yekaterinburg May 20th 2014

You recall the first part of my trip when my ATM card was blocked, and my computer would not work, right? Well it got even better yesterday as I was headed without a care in the world from Yekaterinburg to Moscow. I got to the train station in plenty of time, and waited until my train, the #15 to Moscow was posted. So, I headed out to Track #8 as it was posted, the train arrived shortly, and I went to car #11, as stated on my ticket. The providnitsa shouted some angry words in Russian, and told me to go away, which dutifully did. I headed back into the main station, and re-checked the board. It said #8, but did not say whether the train had arrived. All trains listed had an arrival time, departure ... read more
How about some fish for lunch?
My two Aussie friends flanking their Russian guide
Where have all the flowers gone?

Europe » Russia » Urals » Yekaterinburg May 19th 2014

My life has been full of great timing. No more so than today here in Yekaterinburg. Just a 7 iron from my hotel is the Red and Black Bar, a real Russian biker bar if I am describing it correctly. I took some photos of some really great bikes. But nobody in the entire place has heard of Sturgis! What self respecting biker can be a real biker without paying homage to the holy grail of Sturgis? Of course, they all do not have Harleys. Some have a Russian brand X, and some have a Victory or, pray tell, a Honda, Suzuki, or Ducati! I find it all so amusing, on the other side of the world. Bikers are bikers. Meanwhile, my new friend from Switzerland, Michael has found himself in a hotel complete with a ... read more
Second Place
Tough Biker Bar?   NOT!!!!
Biker Bar, but they never heard of Sturgis!!!

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Europe » Russia » Urals » Yekaterinburg May 19th 2014

Time to Drink? It seems like Russians are always drinking something, if not beer and vodka, then a cup of tea. Tea is more popular than coffee, and often served black with a spoonful sugar or jam. Most coffee is instant, and it may require a visit to a decent local café for a decent cup of coffee. It was introduced to Russians by Peter the Great back in the 17th century. Bottled mineral water is also available almost everywhere, and is usually carbonated. I am told to avoid tap water in St. Petersburg since it has giardia. And everywhere in the world, Coca Cola is available, along with home-grown versions such as Takhun. But on the train, boiled water is available from the samovars in each carriage. One good tip I received by reading these ... read more

Europe » Russia » Urals » Yekaterinburg May 19th 2014

I am boarding the train tomorrow (Monday) morning for Moscow. I am sending this email a day early, since the wireless service in my room has stopped working. I am using the Business Center here at the Novotel in Yekaterinburg. Finally, this area is best described as "European" Russia, more densely populated than Siberia, for sure. The Ural Mountains signify the beginning of Europe in many people's minds. We previously crossed the famous Volga River at the rather scenic city of Nizhny Novgorod. The route also takes us past the ancient city of Vladimir, with golden domes and spires. The Perm Oblast is home to the foothills of the Ural Mountains, which stretch from Kazakhstan to the Arctic Kara Sea. These mountains were famous for their mineral treasures. Many call this section of the Urals "particularly ... read more
Sunset Over Ekat
Urals Univiversity in Ekat

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk May 19th 2014

The place to eat here, they say, is a café called Figaro. What I find most charming is the fact that it is located on Karl Marx (Karla Marksa)Street. And it is not mentioned in any of my guide books. I found it online through Trip Advisor. The food is a combination of Italian and French. And they speak English and are very friendly. The Italian chef is actually from Italy. They have something called the screwdriver salad. Is it made from vodka and orange juice? I actually had sushi last night. I give it a grade of C. But the worst part was the staff. They were Japanese waitresses, but spoke no Japanese!!! They only spoke Russian. Now, how am I to order uni (sea urchin) in Russian? At least, I could point at a ... read more
A familiar food
Some Russian beer

Europe » Russia » Urals » Yekaterinburg May 19th 2014

There are many ways to say good-bye, or just say sayonara. But I am/was in the heart of Siberia. And I think it deserves a formal good-bye. So, let's start with some comments from Michael Myers Shoemaker in 1902. "So good-bye to Siberia! I shall always remember it as two vast stretches of sadly silent country, limitless steppes, silent forests, dreary mountains, all leading up to that one great point of interest, that sea of ice, frozen Lake Baikal. Somewhat of the fascination which possesses Arctic explorers is understood by the winter passage of that lake, with its stretching snow fields, its black waters and fields of floating, plunging ice, and its grand air." At this point, I am not sure about how I feel about it. I have looked forward to seeing both Siberia and ... read more
Snack time, goes good with beer
My two Aussie friends flanking their guide

Europe » Russia » Urals » Yekaterinburg May 19th 2014

When many of us think about Russia, the reign of the tsars comes to mind. The tsarist regime, the Romanovs, ended with a thud in Yekaterinburg after their 1918 execution. The Socialist era began with their execution. Nicholas II was the last emperor of Russia. What follows is a bizarre tail, not that he was innocent of much domestic violence and military losses to Japan. The Romanovs were moved from Tobolsk to Yekaterinburg in April 1918, imprisoned in a house that belonged to a rich man named Ipatyev. Their last two months were spent here, not happy days I am certain. After a few tries to save them, the Bolsheviks ordered the Tsar's elimination. Just before midnight on July 16, 1918, the Tsar, Nicholas II, Tsaritsa Alexandra, and their four daughters and son, were taken down ... read more




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