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9Jan/150

Ice Town in Yekaterinburg 2015

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Traditionally after Christmas I’m posting the photos of the ice town of Yekaterinburg. In 2015 the theme of the ice town is the 70s anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War. The ice figures in the Square of 1905 were made by an international group of sculptors.

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The Brest Forest is the pavilion in the center of the ice town. 3D films about the Second World War are played inside.

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'Mystical animals - world protectors' by Japanese sculptors

'Mystical animals - world protectors' by Japanese sculptors

Of course, you will find an ice tank T34 in the ice town as the Soviet tank was produced in Yekaterinburg at the Uralmash Factory.

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Other ice sculptures are located in front of the Church on the Blood. Every year sculptors create here religious-themed figures for Orthodox Christmas on the 7th of January.

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This year the ice town works till January 25th only. So hurry up to see the ice beauty!

23Dec/140

Yekaterinburg city tour: Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent

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Novo – Tikhvinsky Convent on Zelyonaya Roscha st, 1 is one of the tourists’ attractions in Yekaterinburg. Since the reopening of its main church of St. Alexander Nevsky in 2013 it has become a part of every city tour.

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The convent was opened in the 18th century. Before the revolution it was the largest convent in Russia with 1000 sisters. The sisters received education and were taught crafts. There were six churches, residences for the sisters, and buildings where various workshops were located: gold-embroidery, iconographic, silk-embroidery, photographic, spinning, enamel, and the sewing one.

In 1920s the convent was requisitioned by the Bolsheviks and most of the sisters were killed. The territory of the convent was used as a park and partly given to the military hospital. The Church of St Alexander Nevsky was turned into a storage.

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In 1994 the convent was given back to nuns. However, the area is much smaller now so the nuns (today there are over 100 of them in Yekaterinburg) have to live in the outskirts of the city. They come to Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent every day for their obedience such as icon-painting, sewing, at the publishing house, souvenir obedience etc.

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The church of Alexander Nevsky is interesting from the mineralogical point of view. Inside it is decorated with various minerals, the so-called Ural gems.

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Another must-visit place in the convent is the souvenir shop. In winter the shop looks like a museum of pre-revolutionary Christmas decoration. You can buy Christmas decoration and toys made according to the traditional design of the 19th century.

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If you are looking for a unique hand-made Russian souvenir and not a corny matryoshka doll or shapka (Russian hat), Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent offers a good variety. This year I bought all New Year presents there

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photos of the church were taken from the website of Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent http://www.sestry.ru/eng

7Aug/140

English Club at Keeer, the place to meet English speakers

Dear readers, I’m happy to announce that the oldest English speaking club in Yekaterinburg is celebrating its 5th anniversary on August 13th at the Keeer Reastaurant. And you are very welcome to join the party!

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photo by Olga Khadzhieva

The English club at Keeer is held every Wednesday at 8.30 in the banquet room of the restaurant.

Originally the idea was to make a discussion club for English learners but over time the club has become a meeting place for expats and random tourists from all over the world. According to Wikitravel, this is one of the two main things to do in Yekaterinburg: ‘Great place to meet other foreigners and local Russians who speak English.’

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Discussing literature with a special guest Marcel, a writer from Berlin

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Every week there is a particular theme for discussion: sports, relationships, careers etc. The participants share their thoughts while eating and drinking Keeer’s specials. For the English learners it’s a great chance to practice speaking and listening skills. For a new, lonely expat it’s a chance to have fun and to make new friends.

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‘I have been traveling continuously for the last 27 months around the world to 96 countries, 250 cities and 500 sacred sites on 6 continents so far. One of my most memorable experiences on my amazing Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian journey in the summer of 2011 was my time spent in Yekaterinburg. It is a beautiful city with very warm and welcoming people. Such a refreshing break from Saint Petersburg and Moscow where I had recently come from. One of my fondest memories there was my evening with the English Club and getting a chance to talk with many local Russians that were born and grew up in the area. My favorite topics that we discussed were about life in Russia and the culture and traditions of that part of Russia. Learning about the Russian people through their food, art, dance, religion and architecture. I look forward to visiting the city again in the next 2 years and I hope to get invited back to the English Club while I am there.’

Jefre C. Outlaw, USA

By the way, Jefre did come to Yekaterinburg and the English Club once again in January 2014!

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Jefre is telling about his 3 years of traveling

While the Birthday Party will be held on August 13th, you can visit the English club any other Wednesday of the year. To join the club you just have to be there on Wednesday night (the meetings last from 8.30 till 11.30 or longer). 300 Rub ($10 US) minimum purchase required .The restaurant is in the same building as Havana Club on Mamina Sibiryaka, 36. If you can’t find it, ask the waiters for assistance.

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You can find the theme of the next English club on the Facebook page: Yekaterinburg For You

9Jun/140

Chinese Market. Where to shop in Yekaterinburg

Many times tourists asked me about the Chinese Market in Yekaterinburg because it is mentioned in Wikitravel as one of the best places for shopping in the city. And it’s one of the largest markets in Russia.

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I realized that hadn’t been there since the 1996s when I needed a dress for the prom. Those days everyone shopped there as there were no shopping malls in Yekaterinburg and the boutiques were too expensive for ordinary people. Those days, however, it wasn’t called the Chinese Market. The official name of the bazaar is Tagansky Ryad.

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Pekin Mall has two floors of Chinese goods. European clothes and a food court are on 3d floor

Tagansky Ryad is a large territory in the western district called Sortirovska. That is why Sortirovka is called China Town although most of the sellers there are not Chinese but Uzbeks, Tajiks, the Vietnamese and Russians. The market has three large malls: Tagansky Ryad, Pekin and Hanoi. Pekin is the newest building with a food court on the 3d floor where you can try cheap Asian, Central Asian and Russian food.

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My Vietnamese lunch for 2$

My Vietnamese lunch for 2$

But the best prices are at the stalls outside. Make sure to haggle fiercely to get a bargain.

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The market has a sculpture of Chelnoki (shuttles) That was a nickname for the people who brought bad quality goods from China in the 1990s. After the collapse of the USSR Russian engineers, teachers and doctors had to find new ways of making money. The easiest way was to fly to China, bring bags with cheap stuff and to sell it at the market with a good profit. Nevermind, that the jeans you bought would fall to pieces in a day.

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Chelnoki

Things have changed. Russians are shopping at Mega and other malls with European brands. Chelnoki of the 90s are replaced with Asian emigrants but the quality of Chinese replicas has become much better too.

In summer sunglasses are in high demand

In summer sunglasses are in high demand

And I got my first Lacoste replica shoes at the market for 28$. Would have been cheaper in Beijing but good enough for Yekaterinburg. The quality seems all right. Let’s see how long they are going to last!

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Tips for shoppers: prices are lower at the stalls outside. Asian sellers drop prices better than the Russians do and generally they are more hospitable and friendly to haggle with.

Working hours: The Chinese Market Tagansky Ryad on Tekhnicheskaya, 19 is open Mon-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8am-6pm

Getting there: at any tram stop on the main street Prospect Lenina catch tram 13 going westwards. From the train station get on tram 7 heading west. Get off at the tram stop Tagansky Ryad.

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6May/140

Mafia tour in Yekaterinburg

When in Yekaterinburg, try our special Mafia Tour!

Many Russian cities were associated with mafia in the 1990s but Yekaterinburg played a special role.

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There were two gangs in the city: the Uralmash group and the Centrals. The real war between the gangs began in 1991. In the 90s mafiosos were fighting on the streets of Yekaterinburg using machine guns and grenades.

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Today, tourists can see impressive tombstones at the cemeteries elaborately designed with full-sized portraits of the people dressed according to the 1990s gangster fashion with Mercedes cars in the background. During the tour you will visit two mafia cemeteries and hear the stories about those who dominated the society in the new country in Yeltsin’s times.

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More details of the tour here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/mafia-tour

photos by Elio Castoria

 

25Mar/140

Northern Urals and Siberian Deer

The travelling season starts soon!  In Yekaterinburg it usually lasts from May till October.

Check out our new 0ne day tour to the Northern Urals and Siberian Deer!

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Meet the inhabitants of the Visim Farm: Altai and Siberian red deer, Yakutian horses and yaks. Visit the village museum and see the Ural Mountains from the top of Mt Belaya.

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More details at Yekaterinburg For You website: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours

Hope to see you in the Urals soon!

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17Feb/140

Museum about This… Sex culture of Yekaterinburg

Not long ago I received an invitation to the Museum “About this”. I guess young Russians wouldn’t understand the meaning of “this” as they talk about sex freely these days but being born in the USSR I immediately understood the encryption. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of the Erotic Museum in Yekaterinburg before. The Museum “About This” (let’s stick to the official name here) opened in 2010 in the sexshop on 8, Kraulya St. According to their website it’s the second museum of the kind in Russia. The first one is in Moscow, of course.

photo from www.kazanova.su/our_projects/sexmuzey

photo from www.kazanova.su/our_projects/sexmuzey

The area of the museum is not large, however there are enough exhibits of different ages from different countries to satisfy your curiosity and to learn something new. I like to learn new things and I liked the idea that you can touch most of the objects and look through the old books and albums, for example, an album of the pre-revolution era. It doesn’t look erotic at all, more like porn.

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The exhibition is divided into different sections starting from ancient Egyptian and Greek civilizations then it proceeds to the Romans and Medieval times and so on. The Soviet display does have some interesting artefacts as well, for instance an envelope stamped by the KGB as top secret with porn photos. Nobody knows what happened to the owner of the photos. Perhaps, he disappeared in the basements of the Chekist Town (KGB headquarters in Yekaterinburg). Another display shows contemporary BDSM and gay culture (in case you wondered if it’s allowed in Russia).

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I’d expected the excursion in the museum would be more like a promotional introduction to the nearby sexshop but the guide was more focused on the history of sex telling stories in a very tactful manner so despite the small size of the museum you get a huge amount of information. Many of the exhibits are gifts of the museum’s friends. Some people bring unique things from their travelling expeditions, others find something on the attics of their grannies’ houses. Apart from excursions the museum organizes various events: exhibitions of Russian artists, cinema nights, workshops on drawing and pottery. Surely, every event expresses ideas of “this” as you get the terminology by now.

photo from www.kazanova.su/our_projects/sexmuzey

photo from www.kazanova.su/our_projects/sexmuzey

The mission of the museum is education for strengthening family ties. The education starts from the age of 18. The Museum “Abouth This” is opened daily 10.00 -21.00. Free admission. To book a guided tour in the museum call beforehand +7 343 231-57-17 Website: http://www.kazanova.su/our_projects/sexmuzey

5Jan/140

Ice town of Yekaterinburg 2014 is about Olympics

Happy New Year, dear readers! And welcome to the ice town of Yekaterinburg!

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This winter the ice town has palm trees and dolphins made of ice which means it’s about the Winter Olympics in Sochi!

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All the ice sculptures in the Square of 1905 are dedicated to winter sports or Olympic winners:

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Some sculptures were very particular about who is winning the Olymics:

Russia vs USA. Ice-cold war continues!?

Russia vs USA. Ice-cold war continues!?

This year we have a few innovations about the ice town. Firstly, there is a skating rink in the middle of the ice town. The rink is free but you should have your own skates. Also, the ice town has got two snow hills which that symbolize the mountain ski resort Krasnaya Polyana in Sochi.

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These hills were immediately nick-named – gigantic breasts. There are two bars inside the hills-breasts. Prices are very high but people go inside not for drinks - if you get cold you can always get inside as it’s much warmer there.

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The main Christmas Tree of Yekaterinburg is also gigantic. With the height  46 meters it was supposed to be the tallest Christmas Tree in Russia but the record was broken somewhere in Siberia. But we don’t really care because the ice town 2014 is very beautiful.

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Check it out in the Square of 1905 on Lenin Ave. or see the photos here:


11Nov/131

Military Museum in Verkhnyaya Pyshma

I’ve already written about Russian Expo Arms – a military exhibition held in the Urals. http://askural.com/2011/09/russian-expo-arms-2011/  If you like those toys now you don’t have to wait for next exhibition as there’s a huge military museum opened all year long near Yekaterinburg.

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The Military Museum in the town of Verkhnyaya Pyshma is a collection of over 70 military machines exhibited in the open air. In 2013 the museum opened a three storey pavilion with retro cars and motorbikes.

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The history of the museum started in 2005 when the veterans of the Great Patriotic War asked Andrey Kozitsin, the president of UGMK Holding (Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company) to restore a few machines for the Victory Parade. Today a large part of the museum tanks and cars take part in the Victory Parades on a regular basis.

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The collection of the museum is still growing. You can find there retro automobiles from France, USA, UK and of course all types of ladas and bikes from the USSR. The philosophy of the museum is that there are no machines made in fascist Germany or its allies in the Second World War.

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Verkhnyaya Pyshma is located 14km North of Yekaterinburg and considered as a suburban area of the city. You can get there by taxi or by minibuses that go from Metro Station “Prospekt Kosmonavtov”

Address: ulitsa Lenina, 1. Verkhnyaya Pyshma

The museum is open daily (except Mondays) 10.00 – 22.00 May to Sept \ 10.00 – 18.00 Oct to April

Book the tour to the Military Museum: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/military-museum

 

13Sep/130

Yekaterinburg Philharmonic Hall. Visit Euro-Asian Music Fest in October

September 18th is the first day of the new season in the Yekaterinburg Philharmonic Hall (or Philharmonia in Russian).

photo from the official website http://www.sgaf.ru/

photo from the official website http://www.sgaf.ru/

A week before the opening my colleagues from the local travel agencies and I were invited for an excursion to the theatre. It’s true that the Philharmonic Hall of Yekaterinburg is one of the best in Russia but very few people outside the city know about it, though our orchestra has frequent performances in Europe and the USA and the concerts are always sold out.

photo from the official website http://www.sgaf.ru/

photo from the official website http://www.sgaf.ru/

The Art Nouveau style building on 38a, Karl Libknekht St. was completed in 1917 but after all the turmoil in Russia, the Hall was opened only in 1936. In 1973 the Phiharmonia bought a huge German pipe organ that weighs 23 tons.

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Today the Philharmonic Hall gives 250 concerts a year including concerts of the world famous musicians such as Vladimir Spivakov, Dmitry Khvorostovsky, Yuri Bashmet to name a few. Therefore, it’s better to book tickets in advance. The website of the Philharmonia offers on-line booking however it’s only in the Russian language: http://www.sgaf.ru You can also watch there some concerts on-line.

photo from the official website http://www.sgaf.ru/

photo from the official website http://www.sgaf.ru/

I hope this post will convince some of you to visit the Philharmonia. At least the excursion by the director Alexander Kolotursky convinced me to buy a ticket to the concert of the Hong Kong Orchestra of Chinese National Instruments on October 5th. This concert is a part of the Euro-Asian Festival of Music held in Yekaterinburg for the second time. Musicians from the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Korea and India are performing on the main stage of the Philharmonic Hall from October 4th to October 16th.

Tickets are still available.

Prices range from 300 to 2000 rubles.

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p.s. on the Facebook page of the Philharmonia https://www.facebook.com/sgafru I’ve found this video: One Day with the violinist  Leonid Orlov. Leonid is a good friend of mine. Have a look at the working day of a violinist in Yekaterinburg.