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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.

Chelnoki

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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23Aug/130

Yekaterinburg – 290s Jubilee

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photo from www.e1.ru

On August 17th Yekaterinburgers celebrated 290s Birthday of the city. The Jubilee attracted half a million people (one third of the city population). Probably the number of people was so big due to the weather: +30 Celcius. Occasional rains during the day were a relief for many. In my opinion, the next step for the government should be – to clean the city pond so that we could bathe right in the city center!

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The so-called City’s Day (Den Goroda) is celebrated in Yekaterinburg on the third weekend of August. Although, officially it’s November 17th. On this date in 1723 the State Iron Factory of the future Yekaterinburg was put into operation. Well, the history is the history but November here is bitterly cold so let it be August!

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If you asked the locals what they usually do on the city’s Birthday most of them would say “Oh, we go to datcha to stay away from the crowd” or something like “I never go to the city center on this day, who wants to see all those drunk slobs from Uralmash and vicinities”. So the general opinion is that the City’s Day is a chaos when Lenin Street is occupied by the chaffs from the industrial neighborhoods. Frankly speaking it used to be so even 5 years ago but things are changing. The alcohol ban in the city center helps a bit but most importantly, the people’s mentality is changing. Young people prefer dancing on the streets to drinking on the corner.

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Alyona Grigoryan, my Facebook friend posted the other day the following comment:

“This year, the City’s Day was a nice surprise. The festival itself wasn’t a surprise, it was just very good!!! I was surprised to see so many happy people who really enjoyed the holiday. The people were so beautiful, well-dressed like in a summer resort. So many people came with the families, with children and grannies. Lots of people came with little kids and babies and nobody was afraid of a crowd. There were many policemen, all dressed in white, they were friendly. May be that’s the reason why everything was quiet, nobody tried to make a row. I hardly saw any drunk people, even those with beer were stopped by the police. I saw how the policewomen came to men with beer and asked to take it away. And there were many nice intelligent faces. 6 years ago it was impossible to see. So beautiful! People were sitting on the lawns just like in Europe. They were enjoying their time and having fun. The city is really improving. I wish it were always like that!”

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Only on the City's Day you can be lying on the lawn on Lenin St. in front of the Residence of the President of Russia!

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click on gallery to see more faces of Yekaterinburg and the fireworks:

23May/130

Indie Hostel – a place for a backpacker

In April I went to China on holiday and obviously lost touch with Facebook. As I returned back to Yekaterinburg I found a message on my FB page Yekaterinburg For You: Polina, a young entrepreneur, wrote that she had just opened an Indie Hostel in the city center and it might interest foreign readers of the askural blog.

A few days later there was our weekly get-together of the English Club at the Keeer Restaurant. That day we had new foreign visitors: a young Chinese man who was actually from Sweden and a German doctor. Both were travelling by Trans-Siberian trains and both had checked in a new Indie Hostel here.

That was certainly a sign that I should go and check the place out!

Just like other hostels in the city, Indie Hostel is located in a 3 room apartment in an ordinary apartment building. Its location on 85 Belinskogo Street is quite central in the southern corner of the historical city center. The hostel is only a 5 minutes’ walk from Yekaterinburg World Trade Center and St. Trinity Cathedral. Besides, it’s very close to a large Mayakovskogo Park which is rarely visited by travelers who stay in the train station area.

Girls from Perm came to Yekaterinburg for shopping

Polina has done a good job – she converted two bedrooms into an 8-bed dormitory room (1 bed – 500 rub) and a private economy double room for 1400. On the day of my visit the hostel was full of people. The private room was occupied by an Irish-Australian couple of friends while the Russians from the dormitory room were cooking lunch in the kitchen.

I liked the friendly atmosphere of the Indie Hostel and hope it’ll become a long-term project that will last till 2018 when Yekaterinburg is hosting the games of the Football World Cup and till Expo 2020 (it’ll be confirmed in November 2013 so fingers crossed!)

You can book a bed in the hostel vie email indiehostle@gmail.com; on Facebook page: Indie Hostel or via various booking websites.

Travelers who stay at Indie Hostel have special discount prices for Yekaterinburg tours by askural.com! Ask Polina to show you the photos of Yekaterinburg tours with descriptions and a price list.  

8Oct/120

Yekaterinburg Zoo. Where to see bears?

Yekaterinburg Zoo is not the main sightseeing of the city but it can be interesting for a change (after all the Romanovs’ sites one may want to see something more uplifting).

The collection of the zoo numbers 380 species and 1200 animals. At the same time the area of our zoo is only 2 000 sq.m. No wonder, as it is squeezed in the center of the most compact Russian city.

a sleepy chinchilla

The zoo was founded in 1930. By that time the Bolsheviks had destroyed the old cemetery near the Novotikhvinsky Convent (now it is the park Zelyonaya Roscha). The place was meant to become the zoo area. Meanwhile, the first collection of the animals was located on Mamina Sibyarika, 189. The temporary place became a permanent one. Nowadays nobody wants to change the central location of the zoo.

The first director of the zoo Valery Schlezeger was executed by the KGB in 1938. He was accused of plotting the murder of the Communist leaders by freeing the tiger…

White tiger is a rare species in the world

Umka

Umka, the Polar bear is a true celebrity in Yekaterinburg. He was 9 months old when he was picked up by the Russian Polar expedition in 1996. Umka’s mother died and because baby bears can’t get food themselves, Umka lived with the people and then was delivered to the Urals. His girlfriend Aina arrived from the Perm Zoo. They don’t have babies yet.

Kesha

Kesha, the Cuban crocodile arrived in Yekaterinburg from Kaliningrad where he had lived in an apartment but very soon had become too big and too dangerous for the family of a private collector. Kesha is fed once a week. He eats up to 3kg of fish at a time.

Dasha

Zoo TV at www.ekazoo.ru shows some animals on line, for example the otter named Innokentiy and Dasha, the elephant. Dasha used to work at the famous Moscow Circus. In 2007 she arrived in Yekaterinburg. To get to the zoo, the elephant had to be lifted over the fence by a crane.

Yekaterinburg Zoo is open daily Mon-Fri 10.00-19.00, Sat-Sun 10.00-20.00

Admission: adults – 200rub, children 7-14 and students – 100rub, free admission for children to 7.

27Aug/120

August buggy parade and scrap exhibit in Mayakovskogo Park, Yekaterinburg

On last Sunday of August the anual Baby Buggy Parade takes place  in Mayakovskogo Park. All Russia and Yekaterinburg in particular is experiencing a baby boom at the moment. So it’s not a problem to find buggies but for the parade they should look extraordinary as well as the baby and its parents.

This year there were 112 participants. Yekaterinburgers were really creative. A few themes very especially popular: pirates and boats, princes and princesses and Yemelya, a lazy character of a Russian fairy tale who is sleeping on top of a hot oven all the time.

At the same time in August Mayakovskogo Park holds an exhibition of sculptures made of scrap metal. Artists from all over Russia come with their scrap to show how interesting it in fact can be.

I didn’t stay till the end of the parade, so I don’t know which baby buggy won the first prize in 2012. All of them were charmingly beautiful and funny. Click on the gallery to see more babies, buggies and scrap sculptures in between.

30Jul/120

Outdoor library in the center of Yekaterinburg

An outdoor library opens in Yekaterinburg every July-August in the city center (at the intersection of 8 Marta and Prospect Lenina) Everyone can come, choose a book and a sack, and enjoy reading in the sunshine. Despite the central location, the reading square is very quiet and it’s a good place to sit down and relax for a while or even to take a nap

I spotted several books in English and in German and of course a large variety of Russian books from fairytales to classics and contemporary novels. People can also donate their old books to the library. So when you walk through the center of Yekaterinburg, make sure to stop at the outdoor library and read a few pages by Dostoyevsky or Leo Tolstoy.

Here are addresses of the central book shops which have literature in    English:

Dom Knigi, ul Antona Valeka , 12 domknigi-online.ru

 

Chitai Gorod, prospect Lenina, 49 http://www.chitai-gorod.ru/

19Jun/120

Yekaterinburg 2012 Motion timelapse

Watch the timelapse by Vitaly Gariev from Chelyabinsk about the capital of the Urals.
And welcome to Yekaterinburg this summer!

???????????? 2012 \ Yekaterinburg Motion Timelapse from Vitaly Gariev on Vimeo.

28May/121

Rent a bicycle in Yekaterinburg

Kari, an expat from Finland asked me a week ago about places to rent a bicycle in Yekaterinburg.

As summer is coming, bicycle rentals are opening in every district. You can also get a bicycle in the large city parks, for example on Shartash Lake. Read how to rent a bicycle on Shartash here:

http://askural.com/2011/06/lake-shartash-in-yekaterinburg/

The best rental place for tourists is in the city center.  Every summer a white minivan is parked on the eastern river bank near the Kosmos cinema.

Find this white minivan loaded with bicycles on the Iset river

I like this mini-rental on wheels because they have convenient opening hours:  Mon – Fri from 5pm to 10pm; Sat-Sun 10am to 10pm

Probably it’s not ideal on working days but don’t forget that we have white nights in the Urals and it’s getting dark after 10pm in summer!

Price: 1 hour – 150rub

2 hours – 200 rub

5 to 24 hrs – 400rub

7 days – 1500rub

To rent a bicycle at any place, you should give your passport for security or leave 3000rub as a deposit.

How to find: just look for a white minvan loaded with bicycles. It’s parked on the river in front of the Kosmos cinema. To find the cinema: from Church on the Blood go down to the river. The cinema will be on your right and the rental on your left. Enjoy your ride!

21May/120

Red line tour in Yekaterinburg

When walking in the center of Yekaterinburg you can see a red line drawn in the middle of the pavement. Some locals still think it’s a divider for pedestrians or a lane for bicycles. But the truth is the red line is a guideline for tourists. Just find it on Prospect Lenina and go down the line and in three hours you’ll get back to the starting point with photos of all the main sites in your camera!

The Red Line project started in 2011 as a blog by Dmitry Kalaev. The Internet users were voting for the best sites in the center of Yekaterinburg. Eventually, 35 historic objects were chosen including the Church on the Blood, Opera Theatre, the Beatles monument, QWERTY monument, Literary Quarter etc. The Red Line was drawn on June 18 2011. Its length is 6.5 kilometers.

Book the city tour here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/city-tour

walking to the Church on the Blood

This summer (2012) activists of the Red Line project are planning to draw QR codes for each site along the line, to print maps and to add full descriptions of the objects on the webpage  www.ekbredline.ru

The Beatles monument on the redl line

QWERTY or giant keyboard is a must-see according to Wikipedia and to the red-line volunteers

You can walk along the Red Line on your own or get a guided tour to learn more about the historical places. Sometimes there are free excursions arranged by volunteers for special events.

As a manager of the English newspaper Your Yekaterinburg, I invited the readers of the paper to take a guided tour down the Red Line when the annual Night in the Museum event took place in Yekaterinburg. It took us 2.5 hours to do the whole tour. The weather was great and so was the company! The photos for this post were taken during our tour and you can see me with a yellow scarf 🙂

The first map of Yekaterinburg of 1723. Those days the city was smaller than the Red line route

Book the city tour here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/city-tour

18Mar/120

What to see in Yekaterinburg (video)

I made this video two years ago. It looks like I've put on a few kilos since that while the city hasn't changed at all. Enjoy and come for a visit this summer!