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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

9May/130

Happy Victory Day!

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)

photos by Artyem Ustyuzhanin, www.e1.ru

6May/130

Where to get an English guidebook to Yekaterinburg?

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!  

23Jan/133

10 Must-dos in Yekaterinburg in winter

Karim Farah, an exchange student from Egypt arrived in Yekaterinburg in December for a few weeks. And of course, it sounded as a crazy plan in the first place, considering that last December was the coldest month in the Urals with temperatures around -25. For someone from the countries like Egypt it must be a one month long nightmare, you would think. However, Karim asked me to share his photos because he would be happy ‘to advertise the wonderful city of Yekat!'

So here’s the advertisement: Don’t be afraid to come to Russia in winter. There’s much more to do in Yekaterinburg in winter than going on conventional excursions in summer months.

Be different and try out a Russian style winter holiday in the Ural capital!

10 Must-dos in Yekaterinburg in winter:

1 Go to the Europe-Asian border and roll in the snow in the nearby forest

2 Visit the Monastery Ganina Yama, which looks like a fairytale in winter

3 Go to a Russian banya (steam bath) and jump in snow this time absolutely naked!

4 Drink Russian vodka, that always keeps you warm, with Russian friends or without

5 Get cultured and watch ‘Swan Lake’ at the Opera and Ballet Theatre

6 Try Wikitravel’s must-dos in Yekaterinburg: English club at the Keeer restaurant on Wednesday night to meet new people. And the Limpopo Aquapark to feel like on a tropical island when it’s still – 25 outside.

7 Learn skating with your new friends from the English club

8 Make a snowman. Ask local kids to help you – they’ve been practicing since they were born

9 Do the city tour: dig out the QWERTY monument and walk on the surface of the city pond – something you can only do in winter!

10 At night take photos of the amazing ‘ice town’ in the Square on 1905

photos by Karim Farah

10Jan/130

Welcome to vodka tasting on the Europe-Asia border

The Your Yekaterinburg newspaper and AskUral.com invite you to join a vodka tasting tour!

We'll fill you in with history of the Urals, Russian drinking traditions and of course different types of vodka. You will learn Russian toasts and sing Russian drinking songs with us!

January 20 at 14.00
Meeting point: 51, Lenina, in front of the University

price: 950 rub
please, confirm that you are coming and pay in advance
tel: +79122800870
email: yekaterinburg4u@gmail.com

5Jan/130

Ice town 2013 in Yekaterinburg

In the winter I’m getting even more proud of living in Yekaterinburg because now I can show tourists Ledovyj Gorodok (the ice town) in the Square of 1905. Unfortunately, there are very few foreign tourists in winter – people are afraid of the cold weather… It’s only -15 today and the ice town is packed, so make sure to come next year! Meanwhile, I can share these amazing photos with you.

The theme of the ice town is ‘Global Mind’ this year. The slogan is taken from the bid of Yekaterinburg Expo 2020.

The Eifel Tower is here to remind us that Expo 1900 was held in Paris. That year Yekaterinburg’s Kasli iron cast Pavilion won Grand Prix. The elaborate pavilion is now exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts and the ice version of it was made in the square.

Eifel Tower in front of the Shopping Center 'Europa'

the pride of Yekaterinburgers: Kasli Pavilion made of ice

inside the pavilion

Click to the gallery to see the ice scuptures made by the international team of scuptors:

 

16Nov/120

Outdoor activities and a banya at the Cossacks Adventure Park in Yekaterinburg

‘Khazakhi-Razboyniki’ (The Cossacks) Adventure park with a rope course is a great outdoor activity. I discovered it in September and have already been there twice with friends and colleagues.

It’s quite a challenge to walk the course till the end. The last level is a platform at a height of 16 meters and you are supposed to jump to the ground from it. In fact you are forced to do it as it’s the only way to return back unless you wish to do the whole rope course backwards. Exciting but also safe: the course has safety system and two trainers watch your efforts from the ground and tell you what to do.

The Cossacks Park is not only a team building activity (I brought the members of our local English Club there). It is a good chance to have fun with a small group of friends (max 10 people). Apart from this the park offers such group games as paintball and laser tag. The Cossacks are open all year long. It’s possible to do the rope course in winter at mild temperatures when you can wear a thin winter jacket.

The park is located at Peski (sand) resort near Shartash Lake. Therefore, there are cottages to rent for a weekend, a restaurant and summer pavilions for outdoor picnics and of course a Russian banya! Apart from it the organizers started building wonderful authentic wooden houses. The houses are have all modern facilities and at the same time are designed as the 18th-19th century Russian peasants’ homes.

Renting a cottage for two will cost you 1500-3500 rubles.

Picnic pavilions are from 300rub per hour while a heated Mongolian ger with a BBQ place is 4000rub but it accommodates up to 20 people inside.

Russian banya (steam bath) for 6-10 people will set you back from 1000 to 2000rub per hour

Rope course and other games (2hours) run from 640rub per person

More information in Russian at www.peski13.ru

21Oct/120

Yekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre. Live performces at the museum

Yekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre is celebrating its 100th Anniversary. While it’s difficult to get a ticket to the theatre in October, you can get backstage, see the interior of the theatre and event listen to live performances at the Museum of Local Lore (Kraevedchesky Musey).

Opera and Ballet Theatre opened on 12 October 1912. It had taken 20 years for the Yekaterinburgers to collect money (300.000 rubles) for the construction. The theatre with 1500 seats was classy enough to invite the Tsar. The very first performance staged here was a tragic opera by Mikhail Glinka ‘A Life for the Tsar’. 6 years later the same stage was used to announce the assassination of the Tsar in Ipatiev’s house of Yekaterinburg.

The museum exhibition gives you a chance to see the costumes from the collection of the theatre.

The best thing about it is that you can try on any costume or a mask here.

You can also try pointe shoes on and do a few moves.

Standards for ballet dancers have changed over the last 100 years. A ballet dancer in the early 20th century was short and rather plump compared to their counterparts of the 21st century. Today, a ballet dancer is skinny, she has an average height, a small head and a long neck. Her weight is about 45 kg.

To hear the voices of the divas of Yekaterinburg, you can use the headphones. Besides, there are live performances of the local opera singers every Wednesday and Friday at 7pm in the exhibition hall.

The exhibition dedicated to Yekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre is open until November 25th on Malysheva street, 46. The museum of Local Lore is open daily 11.00-20.00, on Thursday till 21.00.

Admission: 150 rub. Live performances are included in the price. Concert list is here http://uole-museum.ru

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.