Summer is short, so don’t miss a chance to do a short eco-tour to Lake Shartash. You can walk in the forest, climb ancient rocks, ride a bicycle, go swimming and sunbathing on the beach, what’s more it’s all within Yekaterinburg so you don’t need a car to get there!
Shartash in the east of Yekaterinburg is one of the oldest lakes in the Urals - 1 million years old. It has a shape of a bean; its area is 7 sq.km. Shartash means a yellow stone therefore don’t be afraid of the yellowish waters – it’s not dangerous for swimming. First gold in the Urals was discovered in the lake area in 1745. The bottom of the lake has granite deposits and sapropel.
Getting there: from Lenin Prospect you can go by trams 8,13,15,23,32, “A” or any mini bus that has a weird abbreviation ‘40 let VLKSM’ (in English it means ‘40 years of All-Union Leninist Young Communist League’ – it’s actually the name of a tram stop) You need to get off at Kamennie Palatki on Viysotskogo Street. Cross the street, you will see a big sign Shartashsky Les (forest of Shartash) and stone steps leading up the rock. Climb the steps and you get to Kamennie Palatki:
Kamennie Palatki (stone tents) is something of the same significance in Russia as Stonehenge in England. The natural monument of the Iron Age is a wall of granite formed by the volcano eruption. Granite layers look like piles of huge pancakes. Archeologists found out that ancient people used the place as an altar.
Nowadays Yekaterinburgers bring food and drinks to Kamennie Palatki too, but instead of sacrifice they make picnics.
Get down back to the street and walk about 400 m. eastward, the forest is on your left. Turn left in front of the petrol station. Cross a railway crossing. To rent a bicycle walk straight on to the forest, the lake is on your right. Continue walking till you see a sign on your right Sportivnaya Baza. Alternatively, from the railway crossing turn right and walk to Sundali Beach http://www.sundali-land.ru
Bicycle rentals are open daily from 10a.m. to 8p.m. 1 hour is 100-200roubles. Bring a passport or driver’s license with you to rent a bicycle. Don’t worry about the passport - it’s a common practice in Russia when a rental company keeps your document while you keep a bicycle.
The cycling trail around the lake is 12.5 km. Near the village of Shartash you have to cycle about 2 km on the highway as there is no trail by the lake which is inconvenient especially with children. My favourite route is along the lake anti-clockwise to Izoplit village and back. It takes one hour and apart from peaceful nature you will see an interesting site in Izoplit: shabby wooden huts standing next to mansions of rich Yekaterinburgers:
And on the opposite side of the same street...
Shartash is a closed lake. It has about 50 springs and no outflows. The lake is getting shallow; it’s now 2-3m. deep and scientists predict it may turn into a swamp in 50-70 years. I hope you will find some time to visit this beautiful ancient lake before it disappears.
Whenever I have a day off in summer I go to Shartash for a ride. You are more than welcome to join me
This post is for Don, Michael and many others who asked me if it’s worth going to the border between Europe and Asia and what you can see there, apart from the obelisk.
Honestly speaking, I’ve been there so many times that I take it for granted. But I haven’t seen yet a single tourist who regretted about going there. So, look at the pictures and decide yourself whether you want to go there or not...
The most interesting obelisk is near Pervouralsk (40 km from Yekaterinburg) on Beryozavaya gorka (birch hill). The obelisk was made in honour of Tsar Alaxander II who was traveling to Siberia in 1837. He stopped there and opened a bottle of wine. Since that we have a tradition to drink on the border – one glass in Europe and one in Asia.
The place attracts newly-weds as there is also a tree of wishes where couples hang their padlocks and make a wish sitting on a bench.
What to do: drink, make a wish under the tree, take photos of village people
Getting there from Yekaterinburg: by taxi (about 1.000R) or by bus or marshrutka (minivan) to Pervouralsk from bus stop Institut Svyazi on Repina street. Bus fare may vary from 20- to 40R Note: buses stop in different parts of Pervouralsk, so it’s wise to ask the driver how to get to the obelisk.
The most popular place on the border is 17 km from Yekaterinburg one NovoMoskovski trakt.
What to do: continue drinking, buy souvenirs, tie a ribbon on a tree to make a statement that you’ve been there, take a photo of yourself clad as Tsar or Tsaritsa.
Getting there: by car or taxi for about 500R from the city centre
Of course there are many more marks all along the Ural Mountains:
This is the headline from Your Yekaterinburg, the first English newspaper that was published in February 2011. The question is vital as every foreigner who arrives at the city asks me about tap water. So, if you didn’t manage to read the newspaper, here is the answer for you:
Tap water in Yekaterinburg neither looks nor smells drinkable. We joke that you may find the whole periodic table in what comes out the tap. So, chemists may be happy! Specialists calm us down saying a good filter can solve the problem, but most citizens don’t trust filtered water either and look for other sources such as wells and natural springs outside the city. There are about 4 thousand organized open springs and wells in Sverdlovskaya Oblast. Some of them are close to Yekaterinburg, for example in Berezovskiy, Verkhnyaya Sysert or Koptyaki village next to Ganina Yama Monastery. That’s why every Sunday you may see cars loaded with huge water containers coming home from datchas. The most cautious citizens have developed ‘the further – the better’ attitude and only use wells which are at least 100 km far from the city. Many of the springs have not been tasted though. People trust their senses but in fact we don’t know whether this water is clean enough.
“Good water can’t be cheap” 80% of Yekaterinburg citizens think and buy bottled water. There are many companies ready to deliver plastic bottles of proved and certified pure water to your flat. An average family of four spends 1500 roubles a month on bottled water and uses it for drinking and cooking, still many prefer to boil it for little children thus showing certain mistrust.
As for me, I believe boiling water and using a decent filter is enough. Besides, filter is a good idea for those concerned about environment. The saddest thing is that local water stations use pretty good modernized processing systems to purify water. But 70% of water supply system in Yekaterinburg consists of 70 year old iron pipes. Those rusty pipes make tap water dangerous to drink.
In a nutshell, boil water before drinking. And don’t worry about taking a shower, after all it doesn’t smell as bad as one may smell without a shower!
My good friend Vitaliy decided to buy a datcha in some remote Ural village. The idea was to find a decent house on the river far from civilization. Fortunately, there are plenty of old partly neglected villages in the Urals and most of them are on the rivers. Rivers were the main transport arteries in 19th century, that's why Ural villages would spring up along the rivers with the windows of the houses facing the water roads.
The good news for Vitaly was that a shabby house could cost about 1 000 US dollars (of course with some refurbishing needed) What Vitaly didn't expect was the fact that roads in the the 21st century are not any better than centuries ago, i.e. there were simply no roads only forest paths. Upshot, Vitaliy didn't find a nice and cheap datcha but the photos he and his partner Sergey took in summer 2010 are priceless and I'm happy to share them with you!
p.s. Vitaliy finally bought a country house close to his native town of Nizhni Tagil. It's not a remote place but at least it has a cobblestone road built by the German prisoners after the War...