On August 10th we are off for a new one day cheap-trip to the emerald mines!
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
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
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:
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.
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.
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!
The festival held in front of the chapel included dancing, singing and lots of ringing.
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!
On that hot summer day not every one chose to listen to the bells
photos by Irina Loktionova
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
At the end of May our Russian-American-French team (the members of the English club and the expats in Yekaterinburg) went to the Falconry Center “Kholzan”. Kholzan is a rehabilitation center for birds of prey.
Golden eagles, sea-eagles, falcons and other birds are usually brought to the center in a very poor condition: some of them got hit by cars on highways but mostly the birds were the victims of hunters. As the guides of the center said, every August when villagers go to pick up mushrooms and berries in the woods, the center receives dozens of wounded owls picked up by the villagers. For hunters it’s just sport – to shoot a big bird. For the workers of Kholzan it’s an every-day work to cure the birds of prey.
Book a tour to Kholzan here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/kholzan
Some birds will never be able to fly. They stay in the center forever. In such cases the center tries to find or to buy mates for them.
After the excursion we sat in the wooden house where we received herbal tea and watched a documentary on the life of birds of prey. Normally, the tour includes watching the falcons hunting up in the sky but that week the young falcons were injured so we just took pictures with them.
Instead of a hunt the falconers showed us a flight of an eagle-owl in the woods.
A three hour stay in Kholzan ends up with a barbeque. You can bring sausages and other food to have a picnic in the fresh air.
Book a tour to Kholzan here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/kholzan
The falconry center Kholzan is located 30km of Yekaterinburg near the town of Sysert in the territory of the Sova recreation center.
On June 16th we are off for a new one day rafting trip to Nature Park Olenyi Ruchyi (Deer Creeks)
You will see the beauty of the Ural Mountains, so very much desired by tourists because there are no mountains within the city. The landscape of Olenyi Ruchyi is mainly Ural forest and taiga along the Serga River. We’ll do rafting through the park and then visit the caves: Cave Druzhba (Friendship) where you can find prints of sea shells which prove that the sea used to divide European and Asian continents 400 million years ago. Bolshoy Proval (great gap) is a vertical cave. It’s a 33m deep well with temperature +5C., so make sure to take a warm sweater before getting down even on a hot day. The Serga is a very quiet and shallow river. No special skills for rafting are required!
Sunday, June 16th
8.00 Meeting at Geologicheskaya Metro Station (Circus area), Yekaterinburg
We are taking a mini-van to get to the Nature Park
10.00 A walk through the park (5 km) to the river. Two boats for 5 persons each (plus guides-instructors) will be waiting for us near the Karstoviy Bridge
Aprox. 14.00 Arrival to the rock Lyagushka. There we have a picnic and say goodbuy to the rafting guides
15.00 A walk to the caves and back to the park exit (7 km) A stop in a café for dinner.
19.00 Departure to Yekaterinburg
21.00 Arrival to the city
The timing in the park is only approximate. We are flexible with the schedule and can have as many stops on the river and in the park as we wish.
Price per person for a group of 10 people: 2300rub
for children from 7: 2250rub
The price includes: transfer, entrance fee to the park, rafting boat rental, services of a guide and boat instructors.
Please, book the tour in advance as we need only 10 persons for the trip!
For more information and for booking:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.
An annual military parade was held in Yekaterinburg today at 10 am
In Europe the war was over on May 8th. But when the end of the Second World War was announced it was midnight in Moscow and early morning of the next day in the rest of Russia. Therefore in Russia 9th of May is a public holiday and a parade day in the largest Russian cities.
This year citizens could tell a story of their relative who fought at the war and get a poster with his photo.
The Victory Day finishes with fireworks in the evening all over Russia. In Yekaterinburg the fireworks will take place at 10.30 pm (local time)
Tourists often ask if there are guide books to Yekaterinburg in English to read. Since Yekaterinburg had been closed to foreigners till 1991 publishing English books here is still considered a waste of money – why do we need to make them if the backpackers from abroad come only in summer for a day or two with their own books and maps. But as one of the English travelers said: - We are visiting so many Russian cities on the Trans-Siberian it’s impossible to remember anything even after all the excursions, so a small book with photos would help to revise everything at home once again.
That English traveler came in time in April when I was able to show her our first guidebook to Yekaterinburg in English!
Last summer Marina Tchebotayeva, a private publisher who like me is doing her best to promote the Urals abroad, asked me to write English texts to a new guidebook to the Red Line tour of Yekaterinburg. I thought it would be a great idea because the red line tour was a public project created by ordinary people of Yekaterinburg who love their city (I’ve already written a post on this walking tour)
Besides, the book was to contain additional streets and sites which are not on the red line but worth seeing too such as the KGB town and Boris Yeltsin Street. In fact, Yeltsin Presidential Center became the general sponsor of the book.
The guidebook has a map and descriptions of 68 major sites including most of the city museums each accompanied by a photo or two so you can easily recognize them or match with your own pictures made in Yekaterinburg. I asked my expat friends Philippa Hawkes and Kimber Ross from New Zeland and USA to edit the texts as I’m never sure about the use of the English articles (we don’t have those little things if the Russian language, you see). However, I had to write the name of the city with E (Ekaterinburg that is) in compliance with the policy of the local authorities.
A Travel Guide to Downtown of Ekaterinburg is available in some of the local bookshops and museum souvenir shops. You can also buy the book from me for a lesser price of 200 rubles. I can also send a book to you by post in case you’ve already been to the city and find it difficult to return back just for the sake of buying it!
I’ve already sent one book to Makoto, an FB friend of "Yekaterinburg For You" Facebook page from Japan. It cost him 10$ together with the shipping which you can always send via Paypal.
Welcome to Yekaterinburg this summer to explore the city with the book or with a guided tour or both!
It’s always nice to report that a new hostel is opened in Yekaterinburg. Hostels here open and close so quickly that I don’t have time to write about them. The reason for this – Russians haven’t developed the habit of staying at hostels yet and prefer to pay more for apartment rental while backpackers from abroad come to Yekaterinburg mainly from May till September. So if a local hostel has been working for already a year, it’s quite an achievement. And I’m sure, Domino Hostel is certainly going to last!
I learnt about Domino Hostel from Daniel, a German tourist. He contacted me asking to pick him up from Chelyuskintsev Street, 60 for an excursion. To be honest, it took me a while to find the entrance as there are many entrance doors and no sign of the hostel. So look for the entrance with a big lamp above the door! Otherwise the location is very good: it’s only a 10 min walk from the train station, a few min to get to Dynamo Metro station and about 10 min to the Church on the Blood and the city center.
Domino hostel has 6 beds for 600 rubles (at least it was the price during the low season) with free WiFi, tea and coffee. Vasily, the owner of the hostel has created a nice Facebook page, so go to Domino Hostel on Facebook or find it at booking.com. By the way, they accept Visa and Master cards.
See the hostel on the map:
Travelers who stay at Domino Hostel have special discount prices for Yekaterinburg tours by askural.com! Ask Vasily to show you our photos of Yekaterinburg tours with descriptions and a price list.
Two years ago I wrote about an orphanage in Revda (48 km of Yekaterinburg). It’s a special Dom Rebyonka (orphanage) that provides medical rehabilitation and support for babies and little children from 2 months old to 4 year olds with physical or mental disabilities orphaned immediately after birth.
The bad news is that the state orphanage still lacks medicine and necessary vitamins which are not that expensive but the State financial support is not sufficient to meet the needs of about 50 little patients.
The good news is that there are people who find ways to help even from abroad: In winter I received an email from Texas. Sherry and Joey MacKenzie were to come to Yekaterinburg in March for the concert of their music band Quebe Sisters Band. They brought a big box with toys and woolen socks that they collected from their local community in Texas. Sherry couldn’t buy necessary medicine in the USA as it should be bought in Russia for the orphanage to accept it. So when the band arrived in Yekaterinburg Sherry and I met in the hotel and went to the nearest pharmacy to buy some vitamins from the list that I got from the orphanage.
Quebe Sisters Band stayed in the Urals only one night and there was no time for them to visit the orphanage. Probably, next time if you come here, guys!
Meanwhile, the parcels were delivered to Revda by my friend Irina. She came after lunch when children were asleep. But you can see the pictures of the Revda children in my previous post: http://askural.com/2011/04/orphans-of-sverdlovskaya-oblast/
If you’d like to do charity when traveling in the Urals like the Texans did, you may contact Dom Rebyonka to get a list of medicine
tel.: +7 (34397) 5-11-32
fax: +7 (34397) 5-11-34, 5-39-66
or contact me email@example.com and I’ll forward you the list of medicine in Russian that you can use in any local pharmacy.