Novosibirsk, capital of Siberia


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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Novosibirsk
July 26th 2018
Published: July 28th 2018
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k and Krasnoyarsk



We spent the day on the train, travelling between Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk. We stopped for about half an hour at Omsk and were able to walk along the platform and stretch our legs. We had lunch on the train. Fletcher continued to work on his computer while I read and chatted to Elizabeth whose cabin is next to ours. At 4pm we went down to the restaurant car and Olga gave us a lesson in the Russian Language. Having been here three times before I can decipher most of the Cyrillic but some letters still give me problems. So this was fun, looking at the alphabet which has 32 letters and learning simple phrases such as “See you tomorrow”, “Where do you live?” and the numbers from 1-20. We had to write our names in Cyrillic as well.



Just after 7pm we arrived into Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia and the 3rd largest city in Russia after Moscow and St Petersburg. We were taken to our hotel for the night, another Doubletree by Hilton. We had dinner in the hotel and then a nightcap with Elizabeth in the bar afterwards. I was
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Old wooden house
able to upload my blog and use the internet to check on Facebook and the emails. Nice to be in contact with the outside world again.

In the morning we were not leaving until 10-30 so had plenty of time for a shower, breakfast and more internet, then it was off on our city tour of Novosibirsk. The weather was cloudy and cooler than it has been, though when the sun did come out it was still very warm. We drove around the city centre and were taken by our guide, Natalia, first to the main square where there is a grand opera house. I had noticed many of the small wooden houses which had been preserved surrounded by tall Constructivist style apartment blocks and interspersed with the golden domes of Orthodox churches, many of which had been reconstructed since the break up of the Soviet Union in the late ‘80s. The Opera House is in Lenin Square and we went inside the foyer. They have performances of both ballet and opera there. Opposite the Opera House was a huge statue of Lenin, flanked by two other statues of workers and young apparatchiks. Natalia explained that they were so
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Opera House
big it would damage the square to try to remove them. I think that this part of Russia still values that part of its history.

From there we were taken to the market. This was fascinating. I love inspecting markets any where in the world as they tell so much about a place. Here there was certainly no shortage of food, very different from the Russia of the 1980s. Stalls loaded with fruit and spices, a huge number of butchers’ counters, attended by brightly clad ladies in traditional costume and plenty of fish and preserved meats as well. There were also clothes and shoe stalls, but these were less interesting. Everyone was smiling and friendly and there were some customers, but not many. All the meat was in large cuts and the ladies would slice off which bits you wanted.

Across the road was a large shopping Mall. We needed some more local cash so went across there to find an ATM. This could have been anywhere in the world with international brand shops such as Zara, H&M, Mango and many others. We got some money and returned to the bus in time to be taken off to
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Foyer of Opera House
lunch in the Hotel Siberia. Again, this consisted of four courses, salad, soup, main course and dessert. This was on an upper floor with good views over the city.

After lunch we had about a 45 minute drive outside of the city, to a Railway Museum. The clouds were gathering and threatening rain which started as we were walking to inspect the trains.There were many engines and carriages here. We were taken inside some special ones, a hospital train which had been used to help people in remote areas, which was fully equipped with an operating theatre, though primitive, but it contained sterilisation equipment and nurses quarters. Another carriage was used as a prison train to transport those poor souls who were sent to Siberia, This was pretty grim with locked cages containing up to six bunks in small barred cabins. We also inspected a carriage used in the early part of the 20th century for 2nd and then fourth class passengers. Not too many mod cons there. It continued to rain and Elizabeth and I became tired of walking ,so headed back to the bus. Fletcher was very interested so went on with one or two others to
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Opera house and garden
see snow plough trains and became a “ driver” in a V.I.Lenin engine built in 1933.

Then it was back to the city and to the River Ob. This large river runs north into the Arctic sea. It was a main means of transport before rail and is still in use today. We headed to a river port and boarded a boat which took us on an hour’s cruise up and down the river, Unfortunately, the heavens opened again just as we were leaving shore, but it proved to be a passing shower, and as they were providing free bubbly we enjoyed sitting on the top deck watching the scenery pass by. The Italian and Spanish mobs were carousing on deck with much singing and dancing, so all enjoyed the champagne!!

Back on dry land, we headed for the city square again and Natalia took us to a small souvenir shop. There were the usual Russian trinkets, Matroushka dolls, icons, lacquer wear etc. Nothing caught our eye, though. We walked through a local Metro station to get back to the square and this was decorated with rows of photos of famous Russian Marshalls. Quite striking Then it was
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Lenin's statue
a short walk to the Marriot Hotel for dinner. This was a buffet and I enjoyed the fish soup and the baked salmon accompanied by Caesar salad and baked potatoes. Some nice cake for dessert. Well satisfied we were delivered back to the train about 9pm Natalia and Elena were at the door of our carriage to welcome us. They are our attendants, who turn down our beds, bring us coffee in the morning and generally look after us. They are friendly ladies!! We left Novosibirsk at 9-45 and it did not take long for us to change and settle into our narrow beds for a good night’s sleep while the train sped deeper into Siberian territory.


Additional photos below
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Wth our friend, Lenin
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Soviet era locomotive
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Butcher's shop
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Fish for sale
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Hospital carriage
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Inside the hospital carriage
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Fletcher, off to the Gulag!!
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Steam train
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On board the river cruise
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Welcome back to the train with Natalia and Elena


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