Page 33 of golfkat Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Krasnoyarsk May 12th 2014

So, what exactly is a Russian gulag? Gulag is actually the Soviet agency that administered forced labor camps during the Stalin era form the 1930s to the 1950s. The camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners. No doubt, the Gulag was the major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union. But the term gulag is also used to describe the camps themselves. Some of you may have heard about or read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature. He introduced the world to the term gulag in his 1973 book, Gulag Archipelago. He described the gulag as a system where people were worked to death. As recently as 1940, there were 53 separate camps and 423 labor colonies. Nothing to scoff at, my friends! img= read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk May 11th 2014

Siberia has been under Russian rule since the late 16th century, similar to the Americans settlement of North America. Treaties placed cast tracts of land under Russian rule. Until the railway was built, travel to and across Siberia was slow and painful. The Great Siberian Railway or Iron Road was one quarter complete in June, 1895. Criminal labor was used with incentives to make the work attractive. A regulation was made by the Governor-General of Irkutsk so eight months of railway work counted as one year of imprisonment, or hard labor. For exiles, the term requiring them to be registered as peasants was reduced in the proportion of one year for two. For those compelled to live in far Siberia, the term of deportation was shortened by counting one year as two. Of particular interest to ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Krasnoyarsk May 11th 2014

The best of Siberia resides in its natural resources. The huge coal reserves in the Kuznetsk Basin are the largest in the world. The Basin is also rich in iron ore. Siberia also contains cobalt, zinc, copper, lead, tin, and mercury in great amounts. Norilsk is the second largest city north of the Arctic Circle where the Soviets dug the world's largest nickel mine. Diamond mines in Mirny, near the Vilyui Rover, are second only to South Africa's. Russia also has some of the world's largest oil and natural gas reserves. I am trying to tell you something good about Siberia. That may be about it! American companies have tried to harvest timber, but the deals generally go wrong. The famous Russian business practices of corruption and bribery make it difficult. But geologist have always been ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Novosibirsk May 11th 2014

When I travel through a state or country, I enjoy unearthing famous residents. I would think Siberia would be home to quite a few interesting characters. The list includes Boris Yeltsin, Catherine the Great, Vitas Bering, Rudolf Nureyev, Dmitri Mendeleev, Grigori Rasputin, Raisa Titorenko Gorbachev, Kim Jun Il, Yul Brynner, Boris Godunov, Genghis Khan, and Ivan the Terrible. As a young teenager in high school, I learned much about Mendeleev. He is credited with formulating the periodic table of elements. He created his own periodic table of elements and used it to correct the properties of some already discovered elements and to predict element yet to be discovered. But perhaps most importantly, he was appointed director of the Bureau of Weights and Measures, where he formulated the new state standards for the production of vodka. In ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Vladimir May 11th 2014

Russia, or rather, the old Soviet Union was our mortal enemy through most of our youth, up until the fall of the Union in 1991. But what do we really know about this often misunderstood and huge country? First, Russia is the largest country in the world, with 17 million square kilometers. With 142 million people, it is the ninth largest country by population. Most of us know that Moscow is the current capital, though it was moved to St. Petersburg during the reign of the Peter the Great. Making communication more difficult, as if the Russian language is not difficult enough, are over fifty indigenous peoples and languages, both written and spoken). Talk about a failure to communicate, Luke! Also surprising are the two main religions, Christianity and Islam. Yet, rather surprisingly, the life expectancy ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude May 10th 2014

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 travel books is ... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 9th 2014

I met two of the nicest people on the first leg of this trip. Janet, a retired teacher from Kalamazoo, and Michael, a young programmer from Zurich. I am using Janet's ipad since my computer will not work. And Michael was my cabin mate from Khabarovsk to Irkutsk. The famous Trans Siberian Railway stretches almost 10,000 kilometers from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. This is the chance to see the Russia that the Cold War never uncovered. This is the Russia with curious and twinkly eyed Russians, dressed in track suits, curious to know the foreigner who is crazy or passionate enough to tackle their Mother country from one side to the other by train. The Russians will offer all sorts of food and drink, a truly generous lot of humanity that we know ... read more
Can you believe this is First Class?
I found some scret COLD beer!

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude May 9th 2014

Siberia has an area 4,784,034 square meters, or 1.5 times greater than Europe, 2.5 times larger than Russia in Europe, and more than 40 times larger than the UK of Britain and Ireland. It extends form the Ural Mountains on the west to the Sea of Japan. And from the Arctic Ocean on the north to China on the south. Siberia is especially rich in minerals, including gold, silver, lead, copper, iron, coal, and graphite. The climate of Siberia runs to extremes of both heat and cold. The winter is long and the air is dry except of the east coast. January is coldest, July is hottest. I am glad to be going in May, before mosquito season as well. The great majority of inhabitants are Russians, including free immigrants (both peasants and Cossacks), The Turkish ... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Khabarovsk May 9th 2014

This information comes from the Trans Siberian Railway Web Encyclopaedia. How many Railways do you know that have their own paedia? 1. The real distance, calculated from Moscow to Vladivostok in 9288.2 kilometers. 2. The coldest place, located between Mogocha (6906 km, the distances are from Moscow*), and Skovorodino (7306 km) is a rather chilly -62 degrees C. 3. The highest point (1040 km) is the Yablonovy Mountain pass (6110 km) located between Yablonovaya and Turgutui. 4. The lowest point occurs between Amursky Zaliv (9252 km) and Ugolnaya (9253 km) when the route nears the Pacific Ocean. 5. The steepest descent, between Adrianovskaya and Slyudyanka-2 (5305 km) is when the railroad drops 400 meters. 6. The longest bridge is the 2616 meter Amur Bridge (8512 km). img= read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 8th 2014

(from a TSR Travel Brochure) By the Numbers The numbers alone are hard to grasp. Depending on where you begin and end, the Trans-Siberian is: About 6,000 mileslong 80 train stationsalong the way 160 hoursof pure journey time 7 (sometimes 8) time zones- that's one-third of the world 3 countries: Russia, Mongolia, China The Trans-Siberian took 12 years to build - not bad, all things considered. The most famous route - the classic Moscow-Vladivostok - has been running since 1916. Planning took 25 years. Construction officially began in 1891 when heir to the throne Nicholas II personally blessed the beginning of work on the rail line in Vladivostok. The Russian government didn... read more

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