A Travellerspoint blog

Episode 10: Yekanterinberg to Yaroslavl

overcast 20 °C

14 September 2013 Yekanterinberg to Yaroslavl

Bears, FIFA and Dancing Fountains

Train 067 Wagon 03 seat 10, 2nd class, ~1247 km 27 hours.

Yaroslavl Train Station

Yaroslavl Train Station

I didn’t take a lot of notes during my time in Yaroslavl: probably because I played tourist and found my time in the city comfortable and pleasantly benign. One highlight of the train trip itself was the stop at Danilov (Данилов). This is a “major” pit stop of about 20 minutes where one can amuse oneself to no end checking out all the sellers and their wares on the train station. Mushrooms by the buckets, apples, plums, berries of all descriptions and colours, cucumbers ready for pickling, blinis, cottage cheese pastries, stuffed toys, bouncy toys, useless toys, t-shirts, socks. Most of the locals carried their wares in buckets, but some were quite enterprising and using baby prams as a means of moving their goods around. Some even used their bodies….every appendage having something hanging off it, perched or attached to it. The only excitement was that during my wanderings, I noticed that the train was moving and as a consequence I suffered a minor heart palpitation that I had read the schedule wrong and the train was off with my baggage sans me. But I was ok – the train was just changing locomotives.

So what do bears, the 1000 ruble note, cosmonauts and the FIFA world cup have in common? Yaraslavl. History has it that back in 1010 a bear, unleased by the unhappy locals, was killed by the visiting Prince Yaraslavl the Wise with a slash of his spear and after this feat he decreed that a fort should be built on the spot. As one does. If you look closely, several historical Yaraslavl symbols can be found on the 1000 ruble note: the prince bear slayer, the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery and the Yaraslavl coat of arms are some of the features. The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, came from a small village in the Yaraslavl region so she gets a small mention in the annals of Russian history. It would make a great quiz night question. And FIFA awarded its 2018 World Cup to Russia and Yaraslavl will be one of the venues for the matches.

I stayed at Hostel Good Luck which, unlike so many other Russian hostels, was very easy to get to by trolleybus No. 1 from the train station and most importantly, was easy to find. No fossicking around in back alleys: the front door was actually on the main street and there was a sign and obvious buzzer. And there was one of the most impressive wrought iron stairwells I have ever seen. What good luck.

The first day was drizzly and grey so I didn’t get a real feel for the beauty of the city until the next day when the sun came out enhancing all the autumn colours. The city is drenched in history and the old section became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. As with so many other towns in Russia, Yaroslavl burned to the ground a number of times because of all the wooden buildings, but was continuously rebuilt. It is now renowned for its abundant 17th-century churches and is seen as an outstanding example of the urban planning reform Empress Catherine the Great ordered for the whole of Russia in 1763. Although it kept some of its significant historic structures, the old section of the town was renovated in the neoclassical style, which means big boulevards and buildings painted in yellows, blues and pinks, and the occasional pillar. There were a few Siberian style wood houses scattered around.

The historic center of Yaroslavl lies in the confluence of the Volga and Kotorsol Rivers. There is a rather nice (albiet somewhat overmanicured) park at the actual confluence with one of the best dancing fountains (Strelka Fountain) I have seen. With ice cream in hand, it was easy to sit and watch the water squirt, spring and sprout forth and watch the water dance to the likes of Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Strauss and even…yes and very unfortunately….Kenny G.

Cathedral of the Assumption

Cathedral of the Assumption

Strelka Fountain

Strelka Fountain

Church of the Epiphany

Church of the Epiphany

Gazebo on the Volga esplanade

Gazebo on the Volga esplanade


Elijah the Prophet Cathedral

Elijah the Prophet Cathedral

I rather liked the parkland around the Cathedral of the Assumption along with the mobile stands selling the made in China trinkets and souveiers that are exactly the same as everywhere else in Russia. The highlights of Yaroslavl for me was the esplanande along the rivers, the multitude of churches, the Strelka Fountain, the old water tower and the market place in the main part of town.

My suggestion for Yaroslavl: pull out the guidebook only long enough to orientate yourself, maybe look for a name of a building or street, . Otherwise, just wander, join the people promanading along the riverside and in the park and lose yourself not only in the old section but even outside the old section along the wide, tree lined streets.

I leave you with the ubiquitous statue of Lenin.

Lenin statue

Lenin statue

Next stop: Moscow

Posted by IvaS 03:14 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Episode 8: Tomsk to Yekaterinburg

rain 11 °C

Episode 8: Tomsk to Yekaterinberg 9 September 2012

A dull day with angst

Yekaterinberg. The last city I would visit in Siberia as once you pass over the Ural Mountains, you are geographically and potentially politically in Russia. Train 037 Wagon 08 Seat 003 1st class, 22 hours and 56 minutes, 1,850 km from Tomsk.

I was not overwhelmed by Yekaterinberg. Maybe it was because of the weather, maybe it was because I expected more 'vibe' from a city and area so seeped in history. Maybe it was because I was getting saturated by the Big Three: museums, churches and architecture. It was not a bad city, but for me it was a city where the only thing that happened was that nothing happened. I was taken, however, by the street art I found in a pedestrian underpass.

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Maybe it was the misunderstanding with the caretaker at the AllisHall Hostel. At least there was a small sign at the entrance of the tunnel you had to go through to again get to the back of the building. Plus, instructions were given on their webpage which I found most useful. It was a standard, reasonable hostel with a caretaker that stayed there during the day and disappeared at 5 pm.

When I arrived, I was dutifully registered by Annalea the caretaker for the day and shown to my room. I had indulged and booked a single room rather than share room filled with a multitude of Ikea decorated bunk-beds. My departure for my day trip to Tobolsk was late evening the next day so I asked if I could stay until about 630 pm. With some help from a voice on the phone, this seemed to be ok. However, the misunderstanding was that I could stay, but not in the room...I could hang out in the lounge area, but I was to be out of the room by 1100. One thing I noticed as I travelled east was that the hostels were much more strict regarding check in and check out times: up to that point, the hostels were very laid back as to when you appeared and disappeared.

So the next day was a tromp around town in the rain and cold, not really getting a feel of anything. I visited the Labour Union House, the Great Zlatroust Bell Tower, the monolithic Cathedral of the Blood (a memorial to the Romanovs who met their gruesome end nearby), the Plotinka dam in the central part of the city, the national museum that was built to look like an Egyptian artifact. Everywhere I went, the women amazingly tottered on their 6 inch stilettos despite rain puddles and uneven sidewalks. The most interesting to me was the literary section with the old, wooden buildings.

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The wind picked up making it even chillier so I decided to go back to the hostel to put on another layer. To my great surprise and amazement, I was met by a very, very irate Annalea. It did not take long to figure out what was wrong....the gentleman holding his overnight bag tapping his foot with a very impatient look on his face was also a dead giveaway. It was luck that I returned to the hostel when I did - I normally don't return to my lodgings until the end of the day. I was only about an hour over the checkout time and it did not take me long to throw my meager belongings into my backpack.

But all turned out well...I stayed in the same place upon my return from Tobolsk, and with a bit of kowtowing, apologies and a box of chocolates, I managed to make Annalea happy enough that she voluntarily not only did my laundry but also ironed it. And it was sunny that day, I liked watching the people enjoy themselves, so all previous angst disappeared. Bliss.

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Next stop: A side trip to Tobolsk

Posted by IvaS 03:28 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Episode 7: Taiga to Tomsk

sunny 17 °C

Episode 7: Taiga to Tomsk 8 September 2012

Even more birch trees; the elusive hostel; even more wooden houses and windows; students galore; marriages galore

I quite enjoy the writings of Anton Chekov. So with interest, I travel to the city that Chekov described in his letter to A.S. Suvorin in 1890 as dull and intemperate, with no good-looking women. Tomsk, he said while aboding in an "unsavory hotel", is remarkable for the fact that governors die in it. Whatever that means.

The train from Taiga to Tomsk (No. 608 and about 150 km distance) is a local electric train taking three hours. The train passes through lots of flat land covered by even more birch forest passing by the occasional village or house. It was a totally uneventful ride sitting on functional, unpadded wood seats. For the most part, the other passengers showed no life and basically sat in their seats and stared out the window. Nary an IPod to be seen.

There are two train stations in Tomsk: Tomsk II and Tomsk I. Tomsk II, being rather functional compared to the grand Tomsk I, is located in the more northern part of the city. Getting off at Tomsk I would have resulted in a bit of a challenge getting into the main part of the town which was where I was staying.

Tomsk I Train Station

Tomsk I Train Station

Tomsk II Train Station

Tomsk II Train Station

After some fluffing around the train station trying to find the bus stop, I discovered that the #19 bus went into the center of town. I disembarked at street 1905 (very odd name for a street) and according to my trusty Russian text map I bought in Krasnoyarsk, the area in which the Domino Hostel was located was just a couple of streets away. Upon finding the area, I discovered the street consisted of four contiguous buildings forming a square and the hostel was nowhere to be found. I reckon Russian town planners and owners of hostels have a perverse sense of humour.

From experience, I figured the entrance was in the back somewhere, which is where I went, but to no avail. The best opening I could find was a fenced in parking lot. None of the local shops located in the building complexes seemed to have heard of the hostel. I finally stumbled into a newly opened tea and coffee shop (nice find) and Tania, the owner, very kindly and patiently helped me find the hostel. And it was only with impeccable timing and good luck that we found it. Why a hostel would have its entrance not only in the back of the building (at least I got that bit right) and inside a secured, gated area with no sign or bell identifying it is a bit beyond me. The luck came when a car drove out the gate and we slipped in. At the exact right time a lady came out one of the outside doors of a building and we again slipped in. We took a punt and headed up the stairs…as opposed to down the stairs which was just as feasible.

Just as we reached the top of the stairs of the second floor, a door opened and lo and behold, there was the name of the hostel...on the inside of the door. Absolutely bugger all on the outside. I was later told by one of the hostel attendants that I should have looked for the Domino Hostel sticker on the door of the refrigerator located in the enclosed balcony of the hostel and which supposedly could be seen from the street. Ha! Good info if you have eagle eyesight and know where to look. My only come-uppance was that I could vent my frustration when I submitted my review of the hostel.

I got settled into the clean and functional, Ikea furnished hostel, and the day was spent wandering the streets of Tomsk....wide, tree-lined boulevards, clean and tidy and, the main reason for my visit, to see a great collection of wooden houses. And one could not but see the ubiquitous figure of Lenin right smack in the middle of the main street junction pointing stoiclly to the east. Tomsk is located on the Tom River with a population a bit over a million, the majority, it seems, being human beings under the age of 20. There in an inordinate number of higher education institutions so the city swarms with students.

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One very active event that was happening in every city I visited in Russia was weddings. Tradition is that the wedding pictures are taken in parks or some scenic or historical spot. Given the number of weddings in Russia in September, there were brides in chiffony buffonty cotton candy dresses everywhere, surrounded by their entourage of family members and friends in their six inch stiletto heels and heaving bosoms. The vehicle of choice seemed to be a red or white stretch Hummer with chauffer discretely parked nearby to transport the happy couple around. This was also the first time that I really noticed the Russian tradition of newly married couples placing a lock on a bridge and throwing the key into the river. I wonder how many brides or grooms have second thoughts as the key slowly sinks and disappears into the brown water. No one was able to tell me if the lock gets cut off of the couple divorces.

Marriage locks

Marriage locks

I visited the Oppression Museum which was housed in the basement an old KGB dungeon. As you would expect, there were steep stairs to the basement, no windows, small rooms and pretty sturdy walls. There, the kind lady behind the small desk at the bottom of the stairs decided that this was a great opportunity for a load of students also visiting the museum to practice their English. Oh joy and how convenient for her. It all worked out well for everyone, but I just needed to sidetrack the kids a wee bit so that I could at least look at the pictures (all the text was in Russian). Otherwise, it was non-stop commentary to speak as much English as possible and a bustle to the next display. One of the best displays was the map set into the floor that marks all the labour camp gulags in the former Soviet Union. I always associated gulags with far eastern Siberia, but this map showed that they were scattered throughout the USSR, some not far from Moscow.

My next plan was to walk up pl Lenina to the WWII memorial and look at the Tom River. This was not going to happen immediately as seven male students decided they were going to hang out with me and further practice their English. I tried to wear them out by walking a lot and bore them to tears by taking lots of pictures, but to no avail. Not until the 'girls' called asking where they were did we finally part ways and I was able to make it to the rather impressive WWII memorial.

The park in which the WWII memorial park is located is planted with a rather fine birch tree forest and overlooks the wide, slow flowing Tom River. There is a drop of about 100 feet from the edge of the park to the river giving a scenic view of the river and the flat land beyond and seemed to be a popular spot for paragliding. One paraglider was there trying to take off with little success and the interest of the people waiting at the bottom of the hill waned rapidly. I don't know if he ever got off the ground and if he did, I'm not sure if there was anyone waiting for him.

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

My main reason for visiting Tomsk was to look at the houses along Ul Tatarskaya and Ul Krasnoarmeyskaya. Again, many were in disrepair, but there were still some fine examples of the traditional wooden lacework. In other places around the city, they have renovated the houses showing the grandness and artistry once incorporated into the houses.

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As with many Russian cities, Tomsk provides an array of different modes of transportation to get around the city: electric trams, taxis and buses. However, the best of all and one I had not seen anywhere else in my travels, small buses that run on LPG....the tanks being conveniently stored on the roof of the buses. Wow. One kaboom and the passengers are all in Russia heaven.

Mini van with LPG tanks

Mini van with LPG tanks

The day I left to go to the train station, three students with whom I shared my room kindly escorted me to the bus station. One very pleasant surprise during my travels so far in Russia has been how friendly and helpful people have been. I was not expecting this given the reputation of Russians being dour and cold. Yes, I did come across some grim folks, but very few and this trait seemed to have been confined to people doing mundane jobs. Unfortunately, most of these jobs were ones that dealt with the public such as post office workers, bus and railroad ticket sellers and supermarket ladies, so getting things done at times could be a frustrating, but amusing chore.

So was Chekov right in calling Tomsk a dull town? Conditions in the 1890s would be far different from now and the mass of students in the town certainly added an interesting spark to the city. And even if Chekov was really, really picky, I suspect he would have found at least one or two attractive women, all wearing six inch stilettoes.

Sunset over Tom River

Sunset over Tom River

Tom River

Tom River

Next stop: Yekaterinberg

Posted by IvaS 01:30 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Episode 6: Krasnoyarsk to Taiga

semi-overcast 22 °C
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Episode 6: Krasnoyarsk to Taiga 6 September 2012

A pleasant surprise; celebrity status; the fabulous foursome; where I discover major highlights

0415 rise....a totally brain dead hour but this was one of the few trains I travelled on within Russia that left really early in the morning.....a bit after 5 am. It only took me about 20 minutes to walk from the hostel to the train station in the dark along empty streets except for the two cars with about four people hanging around it. My suspicion was that they were the stragglers from a nearby karaoke club. Luckily I already knew where the station was having been there the day before to exchange my e-ticket to a boarding pass, mainly to avoid any minor panics.

Wagon 7 seat 15 train no. 273 second class (533 km from Krasnoyarsk 5 hours and 30 minutes) which means four berths in the cabin...two lower ones and two upper ones. There was a woman already in the cabin doing a wonderful snore when I arrived, but no one else was in the cabin. I was given sheets and a blanket by the unsmiling provodnika (train conductor), changed and went to sleep immediately. Renditions of Rasputin again playing through the piped music system but by this time I had figured out how to turn the volume to nil in the cabin.

So why go to Taiga? I really had no choice as there was no direct train from Krasnoyarsk to Tomsk and I really wanted to go to Tomsk again to see the wooden buildings and to visit the city that Chekov found boring. To get there, I had to overnight in Taiga to catch my connection.

There is little information anywhere about Taiga (sometimes spelled Tayga) except maybe in Russian literature. It does not get a gernsey in the Russia Lonely Planet Guide and if you Google it, you get virtually no information on Taiga the town, but lots on taiga as in Siberian taiga forest. Basically the town's claim to fame is that it is a significat railroad junction along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, opened in 1898 and exists only because of this junction. Alexender (Alexi), co-owner of SibTourGuide Hostel, and I searched the internet through three cups of tea the night before I left Krasnoyarsk looking for a hotel in where I could stay. Alexi finally tracked down a 'friend' of a friend of a friend on facebook who runs the local newspaper and an arrangement was made that someone would meet me at the train station. In theory, there may be a person waiting ...or maybe not. And who knows where I would be laying my head down.

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I am a rock star. I am a celebrity. Queen Lizzy move over.

I was met at the Taiga train station by Dmetri and Igor. Dmetri is the administrator of the local city museum and Igor, a rather young 21 years old, teaches English in the local school to 10-11 year olds. I'm afraid Igor's range of vocabulary most certainly did not exceed the number of words a Russian 10 year old learning English might have. The two gentlemen brought me to the train station hotel and got me checked in. We were shown by the hotel attendant to Room No. 1 on the second floor of the turquoise, art-deco train station resplent with bathroom, living room and bedroom. Luxury compared to a typical Russian hostel furnished with Ikea pine single beds and sheets, and shared bathroom. I later discovered that Taiga does have one other hotel besides the train station hotel, aptly named the Taiga Hotel.

After much discussion between Dmetri and Igor in Russian, which I think was generally about planning our itinerary, we set out. I was expecting a short tour around the rather small town (population about 20,000) and then, after suitable time and excuses, left to my own devices. However, we were met by Vladimir and Sergei. Vladimir was the editor of the local newspaper (turns out he was the friend of a friend of a friend on facebook) and Sergei acted as the photographer. This was when I discovered that video footage was going to be taken while these gentlemen showed the Australian visitor around the town of Taiga. I think I conducted myself quite well as a guest of the city...smiling, asking questions, pointing and nodding at the appropriate times with Igor acting as translator.

So...the highlights of Taiga that were shown to me by the fabulous foursome:

  • the train station which is very art deco and wonderful, particularly the wood trimmings in the restaurant;
  • the cultural center where they make intricate pictures and clothing from thin strips of birch, all made painstakingly by hand;
  • three Russian orthodox churches, one being the oldest between Taiga and Vladovostov, the second being a church with an impressive cluster of bullet holes in the wall where they executed people during WWII, and the third being the newest one in town with rather nice pastel frescos;
  • the Taiga sign;
  • the Green Building which was Merchant Magazov's shop;
  • the memorials to the people from Taiga who died in WW II (over 1,200 Taiga men died) and in the Chernobyl disaster (about 120 died);
  • the town museum consisting of one display of various household items found in a traditional Russian cabin and another display of pictures of Russian actors that probably only the Russians would know;
  • the Taiga water towers which really made me aware of the water towers and their history throughout the remainder of Russia;
  • the old steam locomotive;
  • the ubiquitous Lenin statue in the main square;
  • lots of wooden houses.

Taiga water towers

Taiga water towers

Merchant Magazov's shop

Merchant Magazov's shop

Taiga buldings

Taiga buldings

Mr Lenin

Mr Lenin

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So there was substantially more to Taiga than initally met the eye and it was all good fun to see. And at each stop we made, video footage was taken of me appreciating......whatever was being pointed out to me to appreciate. My enthusiasm and the ability to keep a smile on my face was waning a wee bit towards the end of the day, but it was so evident that these men were very proud of their town and very happy to show me around. Well, at least to get out of the office and do something different. I said something to this effect when, at the end of the tour, I was asked to make a statement (video taped) about my impression of the town. I tactfully left out the impression that they were also happy to be out of the office. Maybe one day I will be able to get a copy.

The Taiga Sign

The Taiga Sign

The next morning I had a number of hours to kill before my train to Tomsk departed so I did my own wander. Taiga is divided into the old section and the new section by the railway tracks. And, amusingly to me anyway, they provide rubber mats for crossing over the train tracks..... as the trains are electric, I walked across the tracks quickly and gingerly. New Taiga has the austere, grey, functional Soviet style buildings and the Lenin statue while Old Taiga consists of the traditional Siberian wooden houses found in most towns and villages. As with most places visited so far, most are in a state of disrepair, but inhabited. And too many bloody dogs again.

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Taiga is another town with no internet cafes or wifi despite the internet being available. A cup of hot tea is achievable as is 3 in 1 coffee packets but it just seemed safer to stick with bottled water or juice. There was a reasonable self serve grocery store (Russian towns are full of shops that are manned by dour and snappy shopkeepers from whom you have to ask for an item over the counter - which makes shopping at times a dire task) so I was able to easily stock up on my instant oats, crackers, pate in a tin and instant soup. Ideal for train.

Next stop: Tomsk

Posted by IvaS 00:46 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Episode 5: A side trip to Yeniseysk

sunny 21 °C
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Episode 5: Side trip to Yeniseysk 2 September 2012

Lots of wooden houses; flat land and river; dogs; a slow wander; the mysteriously missing museum

I had read that the town of Yeniseysk, a town about 340 km to the north of Krasnoyarsk, had an assemblage of fine Siberian wood houses and a pretty interesting history mainly relating to the sable fur trade. So I decided this was well worth seeing and off I go, the first challenge finding the main bus station in Krasnoyarsk and then the correct bus. Challenges successful, and after showing my passport to the ticket seller and painfully explaining where I was going, I received a document declaring I was coming from the city and going to the countryside, my bus ticket (R519 one way) and proceeded to board bus 519 seat 33.

The bitumen road to Yeniseysk was quite good...relatively smooth, minimal potholes, white line down the center of the road. As an aside, I couldn't help wondering why the roads in Ulaanbaatar and generally in Mongolia cannot be the same standard as in Siberia...same climate, big trucks using the road, but virtually no potholes on the Siberian road. UB and Mongolian roads in general are usually made up of crater potholes, chasmic ruts and are brain jarringly unfinished. Anyway, we made very few toilet pitstops along the way and occasionally picked up and dropped off people in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. I dared to buy a fish piroski from an elderly lady who stored them in cardboard boxes at one of the bus station pitstops....a wee greasy, but surprisingly tasty with no ill after effects. The type of fish was totally unidentifiable except maybe through DNA testing.

The bus trip took six hours with complimentary piped music the entire way, all of which sounded like variations of the Boney M song 'Rasputin'....ba ba bababam hup hup etc. As an aside: I later heard on the radio that the lead singer or writer of Boney M supposedly liked the Australian detective series Boney so much that he took up the name for the band. The band also was suspected of lip-syncing a lot of their songs. Say no more.

But back to Siberia: the majority of the bus route ran parallel to the Yenisey River. It's a shame rivers can't talk....there is a lot of history in those waters, but it is generally a wide, flat slow moving river and very flat landscape on either side with a far flung flat horizon. There was a lot of forest which consisted of lots of birch trees interdispersed with pine trees.

Yenisey River

Yenisey River

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The bus station in Yeniseysk is in the center of town and I'd already identified Lenina Street on our way in so finding the Hotel Yeniseskya was easy. And what a nice hotel it turned out to be....one of the old Siberian wooden buildings complete with a cheery flower garden with bench out back. The front desk was tended by a very nice elderly lady who knew a few basic words in Englsh. The reception come lounge area could have been anyone's living room...resplent with pot plants, ironing board and laundry. I was put in a room on the second floor with four bunks, but I was the only one occupying the room so it was all very luxurous, especially the shiny, flowered a la 50s acrylic bed covers.

Yeniseskya Hotel

Yeniseskya Hotel

The first thing the lovely receptionist pointed out to me was that I could view the two major churches from the room windows, these being the Assumption Church and the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery.

Yeniseysk was founded in 1618 as a military fortress and is one of the earliest settlements in Siberia. The city's coat of arms has a sable on it indicating the importance of the fur trade in the region and it is listed as a Russian monument city by the Russian goverment. Enough history for the time being.

If I lived in Yeneseysk, I would extremely nervous every time I heard the fire engine siren or saw someone toss away a cigarette. The entire town is predominately wooden houses made of pine and larch and one can imagine a hot day, a bad match or cigarette and whoosh. In fact, it has had the misfortune to burn down a few times in the past, but it was resurrected each time, again using wood as the main building material and what a wonderful town it is.

Wooden building

Wooden building

IMG_0251.jpgWooden house

Wooden house

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During my first evening in town, I managed to find a cafe-restaurant with very limited menu, made even more limited because although I could read the words, I had no idea what they meant. No borst soup, so I played it safe with a microwave heated fish cutlet that had probably been sitting out on the plate all day, slab of dry bread, and a ham/cheese/tomato/cucumber salad smothered in sour cream..which equated exactly to the scattering of words I could understand. The species of fish in the cutlet was again unidentifiable without DNA testing and only on the verge of being edible....but luckily, no unwanted after effects.

I had stopped in a small shop to buy a yoghourt and smoked salmon and this was the first time I noticed that they still used an abacus to add up and show how much you owe. Somehow fits into a small village with no internet and wi-fi which is probably still in the realms of Star Trek for the locals. Nice.

A wander around the town the next day took me to the two main churches (both very strict Russian Orthodox) where I had to wear not only the headscarf, but had to wrap a skirt around my pants. There were two ladies tending the Assumption Church and one tried to make conversation but it was a very short, stilted conversation because of the language difference. I think at one point the other lady told the first to give it up, but I don't know. I just appreciated the effort.

Assumption Church

Assumption Church

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Spaso-Prebrazhensky Monastery

Spaso-Prebrazhensky Monastery

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A slow wander around Yeniseysk could technically take about two hours giving you ample time to perch somewhere and pass the time. The need for a cappacino does not even enter your mind because you are still buzzing from the King Brand 3 in 1 instant coffee you had for breakfast. I ventured out of the town a bit and initially walked along a road parallel to the river. Awful. It was hot and dusty, the river is flat, the shores are flat, the tops of the birch trees are flat and the horizon beyond the trees is flat. I later walked along the river and unfortunately the shores are strewn with garbage, broken bottles, a shoe or three, old campsites and signs that people sit on the shore and fish. The occasional passenger vessel, cargo vessel and barge quietly slips by, most going upstream.

After returning to town, I meandered around the streets of Yeniseysk visting the ubiquitous statue of Lenin, looking at the wooden houses and occasional red brick building, taking pictures and walking in the middle of the street if I heard a dog barking. The dogs in these smaller villages scare the bejinkins out of me..especially the old ones with the missing front teeth that come charging out of nowhere. This is probably because these dogs are guard dogs rather than street dogs that wander around finding food, trying to survive. A bit like in Ulaanbaatar.....the street dogs in the city are not threatening, but you have to be careful of dogs in the ger district and even more careful in the countryside approaching a ger as the dogs are used to protect property and can be very vicious.

Example brick building

Example brick building


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The village did attempt to construct a promanade by the river, near the post office. There always seems to be a lot of potential for public space by these rivers, but this is not too well developed in many of the towns and villages. Like other walkways I visted in different cities and towns in Siberia, the walkway in Yeniseysk seems like an afterthought and is all of about 30 m long with a wonderful array of randomly located potholes. This seems to be a popular spot for mother's with their prams and babies....walk north 30 m, pivot, walk south 30 m. But it does give you a nice view of the river, the ferry dock and a feel of the flatness of the surrounds.

I managed to stumble across the local bakery, more by smell and luck rather than knowing where it was. Time to satisfy the sweet tooth. I stood in line and when my turn came I pointed to a roll thing with a white blob on top. Turned out to be a sweet roll with a sweet poppyseed filling with sweeted cream on top. Awful. I left it for the dogs.

I had read that there was a museum in Yeniseysk. It was even marked on the faded town map as being located on Ul Lenina. Good stuff, I thought. Even if I can't read much, the pictures should be interesting. I must have walked up and down that street a dozen times looking for the museum. The Russian word for museum is 'muzei', so recognizing the word was a no brainer. I finally started playing gopher, popping into one building, asking where the museum was, getting a general wave of the hand or very confident finger point either up the street or down the street and popped out again, never being able to find the building. The only common factor between all the directions given was that I was told that the museum was in a krasnyi building. In Czech, this means 'grand'; in Russian this means 'red'. Either way, I figured the museum was housed in one of the rather nice red brick buildings along Ul Lenina. Never found it but I suspect I both frustrated and amused a number of people that day.

After a rather noisy night due to a number of mainly men, who stay in the hotel during the work week, stomping up and down the wooden stairs, slamming the shared bathroom doors and coming in from outside after their smoke, the next morning was back on the bus returning to Krasnoyarsk.

Ubiquitous Lenin statue

Ubiquitous Lenin statue

Next stop: Taiga

Posted by IvaS 01:20 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

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