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24Oct/130

Dead Mountain by Donnie Eicher. New book on Dyatlov Pass Incident

deadm In March 2012 I wrote about a mysterious Dyatlov Pass incident in Northern Urals and about Donnie Eichar, a writer from L.A. who was here to investigate the incident on his own and to write a book.

See the post: http://askural.com/2012/03/dyatlov-pass/

Since that I’ve got many questions about the book and when it’s realized. I’m happy to say that the book Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar  was released on October 22 and is now available on Amazon!

 And here’s the first review by Booklist: "The Dyatlov Pass incident is virtually unknown outside Russia, but in that country, it’s been a much-discussed mystery for decades. In 1959, nine Russian university students disappeared on a hiking expedition in the Ural Mountains. A rescue team found their bodies weeks later, nearly a mile from their campsite, partially clothed, shoeless, three of them having died from injuries that indicated a physical confrontation. What happened here? There have been a lot of theories, ranging from misadventure to government conspiracy to freak weather to extraterrestrials, but no one has managed to get to the truth. Drawing on interviews with people who knew the hikers (and with the lone survivor of the expedition, who’d had to turn back due to illness), Russian case documents, and the hikers’ own diaries, Eichar, an American documentarian, re-creates the ill-fated expedition and the investigation that followed. The author’s explanation of what happened on Dead Mountain is necessarily speculative, but it has the advantage of answering most of the long-standing questions while being intuitively plausible. A gripping book, at least as dramatic as Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (1997).”

— David Pitt

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Author Donnie Eichar with Yuri Yudin, the 10th survived hiker and me

You can also check the official website http://deadmountainbook.com/ to read more facts, see the photos and to watch the book trailer.

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Hikers on the way to the Dead Mountain

P.S. Some time ago 9 students - the friends of mine went hiking to Northern Urals. They went on the same dates as the Dyatlov team in the same number and pitched their tent in the same place of the Dead Mointain. That evening they were trying to keep cool but were trembling with fear. Finally, they went to sleep and woke up in the morning safe and sound.

As you can guess the place is not dangerous anymore and it attracts more and more tourists both in summer and in winter. Come to visit it but first read the book!

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By the way, the Hollywood movie on the Dyatlov Pass was a bit of a flop because zombie is the last thing the students might encounter there. What will be your explanation then?

all the photos from http://deadmountainbook.com/

8Oct/130

German Guesthouse in Bingi village

I know many Russians who moved abroad for better lives and I know just a few foreigners who came to Russia to change things here for better. I truly admire such people. One of them is Stefan Semken from the Ural village of Bingi.

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Stefan is a German entrepreneur, together with his Russian wife Olga he decided to buy a house not far from Yekaterinburg. He liked Nevyansk area 80km to the north of Yekaterinburg. In 2007 Stefan found a 140 years old wooden house in Bingi, a village of the gold diggers. Stefan and Olga converted their house into a guesthouse with a banya. Guests can also stay in three yurts erected in the yard. Budget-conscious travelers can even pitch their own tent in the back yard. Even though the house looks small Stefan assured that he can accommodate up to 25 people. At least that was a record broke by his Russian friends who came for a visit in a group of 25 persons which made the Semkens spend that memorable night in their minivan. I imagine the house looked like a refugee camp but the hosts didn’t seem to be bothered at all.

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I heard about Stefan from many tourists (they especially praise Olga’s cooking and Stefan’s hospitality) but only got to his place this September before the end of the season. As there is no gas in the house and Olga has to cook in the summer kitchen, their house is closed when the temperature drops to +12 C and lower,  that is from October till beginning of May. The house looks like a very cozy place with lots of antiques. Stefan will show you some old coins of the pre-revolution days that he had found in his garden and a tusk of a mammoth – a gift from a local gold digger.

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Apart from the stay in the farm house, guests are offered a transfer to Yekaterinburg, tours in the area and most importantly an excursion in the village including a ride in a neighbor’s Ural motorbike. Bingi is a pretty village of Old Believers who were persecuted by the Tsar and had to move to the Urals in 17th-18th centuries. The Old Believers were known as hard working people who didn’t drink alcohol. Things have changed though and one of Stefan’s concerns is that it’s difficult to hire local people to help.

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Stefan (in the middle), Johan, a traveler from Sweden (right) and me (left)

The Semkens have to do everything themselves. Next year Stefan is planning to build an extension of the house and says it would be great to find a German carpenter. Germans have always played an important role in the history of Russia, starting from Peter the Great who was found of German culture and traditions. By the way, one of the city founders of Yekaterinburg was a German General Wilhelm de Genin, sent to the Urals by Peter the Great to manage the production of iron ore. Stefan could become a good manager of his area too. He already knows what to do to improve life and ecology in the place where he lives and he never hesitates to say it to the mayor of Nevyansk. He is a good friend of the new mayor of Yekaterinburg Eugeni Roizman and helps Roizman’s fund The City without Drugs. Needless to say if you stay at the Semkens’ place you will learn a lot about current political, economical and cultural affairs in Russia and in the Urals.

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I’ll definitely go there again next season for a countryside weekend and for a banya!

Check the website www.semken.eu to learn more about accommodation in GuLAG Bingi as Stefan puts it.

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29Sep/130

One day trip to the village of singing babushkas, Oct 12th

Dear friends,

On Saturday, October, 12th we are getting together for a one day tour to visit the singing babushkas  in one of the oldest and most authentic villages of the Urals – Koptelovo!

Singing babushkas of Koptelovo village, the Urals

The village of Koptelovo was built on the Rezh river in 1663. Visit Baba Katya's izba. She was the last owner of the house built 300 years ago and was the 18th member of the family in 30 square metres. See the collection of samovars and accordions in the museum of Koptelovo. Sing Russian folk songs together with the local band of babushkas called ‘The Restless’

Koptelovo village, The Urals, Russia

Itinerary:

October 12th

9.30 Meeting at Dynamo Metro Station, Yekaterinburg

We are taking a comfortable bus to get to the village of Koptelovo (135km north-west of Yekaterinburg)

12.00 – 13.00 an excursion in the village. We’ll visit the wooden house of Baba Katya to see how 18 people fitted in at once and stop at the local spring – the locals believe the water of the spring is healing.

13.00 – 14.00 in the museum of Koptelovo you will hear about the traditions of the Ural farmers. The director of the museum will tell you how young girls used to dress in order to get married ASAP. The singing babushkas will surely make you sing and dance along

14.00 – 15.00 Lunch in the village

15.00 Departure to Yekaterinburg

18.00 Arrival to the city back to Dynamo Metro

 Koptelovo village, the Urals, Russia

Price per person

10-20 pax: 1700rub for an adult \ 1600 for a child

21-34 pax: 1400rub for an adult \ 1300 for a child

The price includes transfer to the village and back, a guided tour in the village, museum tickets, lunch

If you wish to come by your own car, the price is 1200rub for an adult, 1100rub for a child

 

For more information and for booking:

Tel +79122800870

Email:yekaterinburg4u@gmail.com

 

Read more about a trip to Koptelovo here:

http://askural.com/2010/09/koptelovo-village-in-ural/

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.   

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:

16Aug/130

Best of Russia 2012

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The photo exhibit Best of Russia is held in Yekaterinburg for the 3d time. It represents the photos taken by Russian professional and amateur photographers in 580 Russian locations in 2012.

The project shows the life of the country during one year viewed by Russian citizens. Here you can travel to the wilderness of Kamchatka, see the rural South of Russia or witness the riots in Moscow.

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The youngest participant of the project is 7 years old, the oldest is 80 years old. The only rule of the contest: photos have to be created in Russia!

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The exhibition is open in Yekaterinburg till August 25th in the Museum of Fine Arts on Vainera st. 11 from Tue. till Sun.

opening hours: 11.00 - 19.00, Wedn-Thur 11.00 - 20.00

admission: 150rub, photo: 50rub The cash desk closes 1 hour before the closing time of the museum.

click to the gallery to see some more photos:

 

11Aug/130

Australian travel blog on Trans-Siberian

Who said that travelling with kids is difficult. An Australian family with five children stopped in Yekaterinburg during their Trans-Siberian journey and we took them to the Euro-Asia border

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Here's a very intersting travle blog that all of them have been writing: http://miliking-meanderings.com/

This story is about their experience in Yekaterinburg and our tour to the border:
http://miliking-meanderings.com/2013/07/29/more-yekaterinburg-stories-2/

You can also read more there about their staying in China and Mongolia!

25Jul/132

August 10th – one day treasure-hunting-trip to emerald mines

Dear friends,

On August 10th we are off for a new one day cheap-trip to the emerald mines!

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Ever wanted to try treasure-hunting? The Ural Mountains have a lot of precious and semi-precious stones. Visit the largest emerald deposit of the Urals and search for beryl crystals in refuse heaps of the emerald-quarrying factory, the so-called Field of Dreams!

Saturday, August 10th

Itinerary:

9.30 Meeting at Dynamo Metro Station, Yekaterinburg

We are taking a comfortable mini-van to get to the Malyshevo village (94 km of Yekaterinburg)

11.00 Arrival to Sretinsky deposit – the place where the first emeralds in the Urals were found.

12.00 We’ll visit Mariinsky deposit – the largest one in the Urlas. The mine there is 125m deep and 1400m long. In 1993 the emerald that weighs 1771g. was found there. It was named President after the first president Boris Yeltsin.

13.00 Hunting for treasures starts! Every stone that you find in the mines is yours!

14.00 Lunch in the café in Malishevo

15.00 An excursion in the Malyshevo Museum of Minerals

16.00 Workshop with jewelers and specialists in stone-cutting. There you are be able to cut and polish the stones you have found.

17.30 Departure to Yekaterinburg

19.00 Arrival in the city back to Dynamo Metro

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Price per person = 2400 rub

 for children under 14: 2350 rub

the price includes transportation, guided tour with an English interpreter, lunch and insurance

 

Please, book the tour in advance!

For more information and for booking:

Tel +79122800870

Email:yekaterinburg4u@gmail.com

Filed under: Yekaterinburg 2 Comments
24Jul/130

Festival of Church Bells in Kamensk-Uralski

Last Saturday the regional Ministry of Tourism invited the travel agencies of Yekaterinburg to the Festival of Church Bells to the city of Kamensk-Uralski.

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Kamensk-Uralski is the third largest city in Sverdlovsky Region (Middle Urals). I doubt it will ever become a popular tourist  destination but it has beautiful river sceneries around and the festival is worth seeing too. The city of metallurgists holds the Festival of Church Bells every year in July. A local citizen Mr. Pyatkov opened his bell foundry here in 1991. Now it’s the largest bell producer in Russia and abroad.

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Our visit started at the bell foundry. There are excursions to the foundry held daily Mon-Fri. You can see how the church bells are made and of course try to make it ring!

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The festival held in front of the chapel included dancing, singing and lots of ringing.

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They say that bell ringing has an ability to heal people. Bell towers of Russian Churches are always located in the western corner. It is believed the bells can scare evil forces that always come from the west. Just like the communists used to say!  

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Lenin and the communists on the wall of the town hall of Kamensk-Uralski

On that hot summer day not every one chose to listen to the bells

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boys swimming in the fountain

photos by Irina Loktionova

 

17Jun/130

Tatars and Bashkirs in the Urals

The annual Festival of Bashkir and Tatar Culture called Sabantuy was held on June 16th in the Mayakovskogo Park of Yekaterinburg.

Sabantuy is celebrated in many Russian cities. While in Moscow it’s not widely promoted as the authorities are afraid of the ethnic clashes. In Yekaterinburg the festival has been celebrated for many years with the support of the local government, however the police was everywhere in the park just in case. Fortunately, there was no work for the police during the festival. The city mayor invited everyone to join the event irrespective of nationalities and religions.

The guests could take place in traditional sport activities

Tatars and Bashkirs have been sharing the Urals with Russians for centuries. Particularly the Bashkirs who live mainly in Southern Urals. Theys speak their languages of a Turkic group and are Sunni Muslims.

Today there are about 2 millions of Bashkirs in the world. Yekaterinburg has about 2% of Bashkir population which is less than 25 000 people. The older generation of Tatars and Bashkirs would prefer if their children married people of the same folk but it’s getting more and more difficult especially in big cities.

 

Sabantuy is an opportunity for Tatars and Bashkirs to preserve their culture. Many elderly people gather in the park to meet their friends and to speak their language.

click to the gallery to see more photos from the Sabantuy Festival