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.
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 email@example.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.
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.
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…
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
Watch the timelapse by Vitaly Gariev from Chelyabinsk about the capital of the Urals.
And welcome to Yekaterinburg this summer!
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:
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.
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!
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.
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
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
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!
Christmas Market is something unusual in Russia. The first Weihnachtsmarkt was opened in Yekaterinburg on December 10, 2011. Renate Schimkoreit, German Consul-General in Yekaterinburg hopes the market will become an annual event that will attract people from all over Russia.
This city has always had close relations with Germany. Starting from Yekaterinburg’s foundation when Peter the Great sent a German General Willhelm de Gennin to manage factories in the Urlas. De Gennin gave the city a German name Yekaterin-burg and called the building of the Main Mining Office Oberbergamt. No doubt he celebrated Christmas in German style as well.
The Christmas Market in the Literary Quarter (6, Proletarskaya st.) had an atmosphere of a real German celebration but with a certain Russian ambience: one can buy valenki (felt boots), drink tea at the soldiers’ kitchen and ride a camel! Well, a camel is hardly a Russian symbol of winter holidays, that’s why its presence puzzled not only foreigners.
I’m sure, Wheihnachtsmarkt will become a good tradition in Yekaterinburg, so make sure to come next year!
In November 2011 the Dutch travel magazine Columbus is publishing an article on traveling by Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladivostok.
Marina Ter Woort, a journalist from Amsterdam together with the photographer Hanneke de Vries contacted me in summer asking to show them around during their 5 hour train stop in Yekaterinburg. The lucky ladies were travelling by the Golden Eagle Express, one of the two luxury Trans-Siberian trains. The second one Zaren Gold runs from Moscow to Beijing. Both are priced from 8.000 to 26.000 US$ and both take 15 days with boat and bus tours in big cities. Yekaterinburg is the third city after Moscow and Kazan.
Marina and Hanneke, however, didn’t want to go on an ordinary excursion: champaign on the border of Europe and Asia – city centre – Church on Blood. They wanted to see something off the beaten track. In Moscow, for instance, they had been to the largest city market instead of the Red Square tour. So, we went to the Uralmash district in Yekaterinburg.
Uralmash is a large industrial district in the north of the city, a ghetto for factory workers and their families. We couldn’t go to the huge Ural Heavy Machine Building Plant that had once been visited by Fidel Castro. Even though the plant doesn’t produce tanks anymore, there are still many restrictions and chances for a foreigner to sneak inside are equal to zero. At least, we managed to go to the factory canteen and Hanneke got some interesting snapshots of the locals.
Uralmash has got a notorious mafia cemetery. The Uralmash gang had a turf war with the Central gang in 1990s. Allegedly, the gangsters invested in building the metro line connecting Uralmash with the city. The war ended when the gangsters eliminated each other. The mafia cemeteries (both in Uralmash and the central in Shirokaya Rechka) have got plenty of full sized tombstones of local gangsters.
Using the metro line (the only one in Yekaterinburg) my Dutch friends and I returned to the city. We did visit the place of the Romanovs’ assassination in Church on Blood with Marina while Hanneke went to the train station to take more photos in the sunshine.
I don’t know what the article in Columbus magazine is going to be about, but here’s the link http://www.columbusmagazine.nl/
And here are the photos that Hanneke kindly sent to me