Blogs from Russia, Europe - page 19


Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 14th 2014

Most of the guide books assume the start of this journey in Moscow, ending in Vladivostok (from west to east). I am going from Vladivostok, on the Sea of Japan, to Moscow, and on to St. Petersburg, where my rail trip will end. This routing will help you determine where I am on this trip. Kilometer notations all start in Moscow. You can do the subtraction if you prefer. Maybe it will help me, too! One Russian fellow on the train hand wrote the stops and kilometers from Vladivostok to Moscow, since he said it was always his dream to do the trip! Km 9289 Vladivostok is either the beginning or the end of the journey, and one of Russia's largest and strategically important ports. Km 9050 Spassk-Dalny is where Alexander Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned. Km 8900 ... read more
Me and my providnitsa
And this is First Class!!!!
My first TSR beer, a Tuborg!

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Novosibirsk May 14th 2014

Novosibirsk is the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg. They say it is considered the middle of Russia, right in the Urals (southwestern Siberia). The city lies on the banks of the Ob River, famous for its short name, I presume. With my limited Russian language knowledge, Ob is a good word to know and understand. The day the construction of a bridge (Trans Siberian Railway) across the Ob River began, is considered the day Novosibirsk was founded. They celebrated their 100th anniversary in 1993, and with growth rate gives reason to call it the Russian Chicago or The Capital of Siberia. It occupies the area of 477.2 square kilometers. Novosibirsk local time is Greenwich Mean Time plus 6. The population is about 1.7 million people, according to my new Russian friend, ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk May 14th 2014

My hotel in Irkutsk is just off of Karl Marx Boulevard, or Street. It intersects Gorky Street and Oktober Revolution Street. The names do not get much more interesting than that! And you thought Karl was one of the Marx Brothers! I am still looking for my first shaman. The revival of shamanism is no greater than over at Lake Baikal's Olkhon Island. They have a yearly shaman fest, which apparently draws all the kooks from places like Sedona and Haight Ashbury. I may be forced to go out tonight after sushi. First, I am trying to decide between Wasabi-ko, and Kabuki. I chose Kabuki, as it had what I thought were authentic Japanese waitresses. NOT! They do not understand a word of Japanese. Reminds me when we were in Spain, ordering Chinese food. The waitress ... read more
Across the Street from Hotel
I Found a Sushi Bar but no Japanese or English Spoken

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk May 14th 2014

Irkutsk is one of the largest cities in all of Siberia, with a population of almost 600,000 people. A fellow by the name of Ivan Pokhabov built winter quarters here in 1652. It became a center for both gold and fur trading. Then in 1661, Yakov Pokhabov (what a great name, Yakov) built an ostrog, the Russian name for a small fort. The ostrog gained official town rights from the government in 1686. The first road connecting Irkutsk and Moscow was built in 1760. It was called, strangely enough, The Siberian Road, and brought many new products from China, including gold, diamonds, furs, wood, tea, and silk. But in the early 19th century, many Russian artists, officers, and nobles were exiled here as part of the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I. As a consequence, the ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Novosibirsk May 13th 2014

The sable is a marten, prevalent throughout the region east of the Ural Mountains, into Siberia, Northern Mongolia, China, Korea, and even northern Japan (Hokkaido). It is valued for its fur throughout the years, but seen and worn less frequently than mink and chinchilla. The wild animals still exist in Siberia, but are now mostly commercially farmed for production. Will I see one in the wild? The live in dense forests in mostly mountainous terrain. But they can travel up to 7.5 miles in search of food. They live in burrow, not boroughs, near river banks, or in the thickest parts of the woods. They are known to be good climbers of cliffs and trees. Interestingly, they are omnivores, eating hares and other small mammals. In the winter, they can switch to berries, rodents, and even ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Listvyanka May 13th 2014

Before completion of the Circumbaikal Loop, a vessel named the Baikal was employed as both a ferry and an ice- breaker. It was built by a British firm, Sir. W.G. Armstrong, Mitchell and Company. It was constructed with inch thick steel plating, reinforced internally with two foot thick timber sheathing. It was powered by three steam engines generating 3750 horsepower driving two steel propellers and a bronze forescrew in the bow, capable of breaking ice up to four feet thick. Three lines of track were laid on the deck to accommodate an entire train (or 25 loaded flat cars). But experts miscalculated the depths to which the lake was capable of freezing. The only way to operate in winter was for the Baikal to break the ice without a train on board to forge a passage. ... read more
Baikal Harbor from the water
An old Circumbaikal tunnel
Too bad it is no longer in service!!!

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Taltsy May 13th 2014

Those who stepped before me are numerous and rather surprising. Captain John Smith of Pocahontas fame, served as a mercenary in the army of the Holy Roman Emperor before becoming famous in America. John Quincy Adams visited in 1781 as a persona secretary and interpreter for America's minister to Russia. James Buchanan was minister to Russia in 1832 and 1833. Of course, this Presbyterian from Pennsylvania was socked by the lack of religion by the Russians. Samuel Colt, the gun maker, attended the coronation of Tsar Alexander II. He made several visits to Russia to sell guns. Mark Twain met Alexander II on the Black Sea in 1867. Even Whistler's Mother visited with Whistler's father, an engineer, who helped build docks and railroads. The list goes on, with the likes of Marquis de Custine, Admiral John ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude May 13th 2014

I hate to say it, but this city sounds like a posterior body part or a bad dream. Ulan Ude is the capital of the Buryat Republic. It is a small city with a multiethnic background. So, let's see what we can find out about this place, and its people. It lies only 62 miles southeast of famous Lake Baikal. The city sits on the confluence of the Uda and Selenga Rivers. It is the third largest city in eastern Siberia with a little over 400,000 people. The city has undergone many name changes through the years. The current name was given in 1934, and means "red Uda" in Buryat. We are 3500 miles (5649 kilometers) east of Moscow. The first occupants were the Evenks, and later the Buryat Mongols. In 1666, the Russian Cossacks came ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal May 12th 2014

Lake Baikal is the oldest and deepest (5387 feet) freshwater lake in the world. Located in south-eastern Siberia and north of the Mongolian border, Lake Baikal lies in a cleft where the world is literally splitting apart. Expert geologists say that today's Baikal shows what the seaboards of North America, Europe, and Africa looked like when they separated millions of years ago. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Baikal is more than 5000 feet deep, with a four mile thick layer of sediment below. Yet the cold and oxygen rich waters supports some rather bizarre life forms. One of them is the fresh water seals favorite food, golomyanka, a pink, transparent fish that gives birth to live young. More than half of the species found here can only be found here. The ... read more
More Baikal "Navy"
I took the Shark to the other side of the Lake
Baikal Snowed in May!!!!

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 12th 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

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