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15Apr/130

Domino Hostel. Budget accommodation in Yekaterinburg

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!

Domino Hostel: 6 beds, free WiFi, tea and coffee

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.

Look for the entrance with a big lamp above!

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:

http://dominohotel.ru/contacts

Domino guests: a Russian music band Est-Est-Est

 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.  

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

10Aug/120

Tours in Yekaterinburg and around

To make it easy for you to decide on what tours you would like to have in the Urals, I've made these pictures with short descriptions in English and in Russian (just click on each picture to read the description)

These are 8 most popular trips in Yekaterinburg and around. Some are short and some take a whole day. So when you travel by Trans-Siberian, make sure to see one of these sights of middle Urals!

Book the tours here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/

09

Plus a special winter tour:

10

Book the tours here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/

30Jul/120

Outdoor library in the center of Yekaterinburg

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/

16Jul/120

Where to get a bird’s eye view of Yekaterinburg?

We now have a new must-see in Yekaterinburg – it’s a viewing platform of Vysotsky Business Center.

 

Vysotsky is the tallest skyscraper in Russia outside Moscow (188m and 54 floors). The tower was built in the city center on 51 Malysheva st. The building was involved in a big scandal before the construction of it started. The construction company destroyed a heritage-listed wooden house of 19th century. Officially it was a fault of single bulldozer driver who was subsequently sent to jail and because the house was no longer there the construction began.

Vysotsky is named after Vladimir Vysotsky, a Soviet poet, musician and an actor. Besides it’s a play on words: vysoky means tall in Russian. A bronze sculpture of Vladimir Vysotsky and his third wife a French actress Marina Vladi can be found behind the building.

Vladimir Vysotsky and Marina Vladi

The most interesting thing about Vysotsky is its viewing platform on the 52d floor. It was foggy when I got there, but you may take better pictures on a bright day or at night.

The viewing platform of Vysotsky is open daily 10am – 11pm. You can enter it once an hour at the beginning of each hour, i.e. at 13.00, 14.00, 15.00 etc. Entrance fee 250-300 rub

More information in English here: http://www.visotsky-e.ru/lookout/

8Jul/120

New monument of family, love and faith in Yekaterinburg

8th of July is a new celebration in Russia –St. Peter and Fevronya’s Day, the day of family, love and faith. A brand new monument to patron saints of marriage and family was opened in Yekaterinburg near the Church on the Blood and it immediately became a popular spot for newly-weds.

Originally, it was a Russian Orthodox celebrated only in the town of Murom as Peter was the Prince of Murom. The day of love and family was proposed by Russian Orthodox Church as opposed to St Valentine’s. The church doesn’t like that young people in Russia celebrate a Catholic Day. In 2008 the Russian Government accepted the proposal of a new celebration and it was actively promoted by Svetlana Medvedeva, the wife of the former president D. Medvedev.

Interesting facts: In spite of the fact that Peter and Fevronya symbolize traditional Orthodox values, Peter, the Prince of Murom didn’t want to marry Fevronya. She was a commoner who cured him of leprosy. In return, Fevronya asked Peter to marry her but he refused. However, he later suffered a relapse and came to Fevronya again. After that he had to marry Fevronya. The couple was childless which isn’t a good example of a good Orthodox family either. At the end of their lives they both joined the clergy. He became a monk and she was a nun and both prayed to die on the same date which they did on July, 8th 1228.

When speaking about love and faith, it’s worth mentioning some statistics here. According to Demoscope Weekly, every second marriage ends in divorce in Yekaterinburg. The average age of newly-weds in Russia is 26-27 for men and 24-25 for women. Only 30% of Russian women and 56% of men marry for the second time after a divorce. As for faith, 90% of men and 85% of women in Russia think that adultery is a good reason to get a divorce.

There are no special traditions yet about buying chocolate or flowers on this date. But considering the statistics, it’s probably a good thing that we have a day in summer when people can think about the family values.

9Jun/120

Wooden wonder of Kunary village.

Some small villages in the Urals are extremely cute. The old village of Kunary is well known in the region thanks to the house of a blacksmith.

Sergey Kirillov decorated his house with wooden carvings. He started in 1954 and finished in 1967, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the great October Revolution.

The house is decorated with Soviet emblems, a rocket pointed to the sky. There are young pioneers on the roof releasing the white doves and a girl holding a poster with the words of a popular Soviet song: “Let there always be the sunshine, let there always be the blue sky”

The blacksmith lived in the house happily bringing up a son and a daughter and four grandchildren. Kirillov’s grandchildren still live there and the house is maintained by Yekaterinburg businessman Yevgeniy Roisman.

Getting there from Yekaterinburg: by car go north towards Nevyansk (80km) and from Nevyansk follow the sign to Shaidurikha. Kunary is 20km South-East to Nevyansk.

By bus: from Severny Bus Station take a bus or marshrutka to Nevyansk and change there for a bus to Kunary.

21May/120

Red line tour in Yekaterinburg

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.

Book the city tour here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/city-tour

walking to the Church on the Blood

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

The Beatles monument on the redl line

QWERTY or giant keyboard is a must-see according to Wikipedia and to the red-line volunteers

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 🙂

The first map of Yekaterinburg of 1723. Those days the city was smaller than the Red line route

Book the city tour here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/city-tour

2May/120

Indian Spa in Yekaterinburg

I realized that we live in a small world when during my vacation in Kerala, India I met a local man who had lived in Yekaterinburg for 2 years. Joshy (that was his name) had worked as a chef at an Ayurvedic Spa hotel near my home city!

IndRa Spa Hotel 30 km to Yekaterinburg

India is now much closer than it seemed to be. To be precise it’s only 30 km South-West to Yekaterinburg in Kungurka village. IndRa Spa hotel is an ideal get away for yoga lovers with authentic Indian food and Ayurvedic massages.  And because I got hooked on Indian massages in Kerala my friend and I went out on retreat to Kungura. Besides, Rimma Ozorina who runs the place was kind enough to show us around.

with Jaimy, a new cook at IndRa

Accommodation prices range between 2 and 5 thousand rubles (incl. three meals at an Indian vegetarian restaurant).  IndRa has also got two designer rooms: “Maharaja” and “Indian Princess” suitable for honeymoons and special occasions for 8500 rubles.

Indian Princess room ideal for newly-weds

a bath in Maharaja room

Body massages start from 2000 rubles. It’s not as cheap as in India, but definitely more affordable compared to Moscow saloons. No wonder, the hotel has become popular with Moscow businessmen who come on business to Yekaterinburg but prefer to stay in a quiet place overnight. It takes about 40-60 min by car to get from Yekaterinburg to Kungurka.

with massage therapists Jeemol and Jiny

After a delicious lunch and a massage session we were way too relaxed to try other activities that IndRa offers: tennis court, sauna and horse riding at local stables.

Kungurka is not only an Indian Spa retreat. First of all, it’s a traditional Russian village that has a certain rustic charm: old wooden houses with banyas and Orthodox churches with golden onions.

Kungurka village

Getting there: From Yekaterinburg drive down Moskovskaya Ul. To Polevskoy Trakt (P-355). Pass Kurganovo and after the bridge turn right to Kungurka. Follow the sign “IndRa”

p.s. Good news for expats in Yekaterinburg. Some of you asked me about yoga classes in English: IndRa has Yoga and Ayurveda center on Belinskogo, 54 with English-speaking teachers from India.

More information (in Russian):  http://indra-ayurveda.ru

16Jan/120

Five ski resorts in the Urals to visit this winter

Yekaterinburg is located in the mountains and there are a lot of places where we can go alpine skiing and snowboarding. The season starts from mid November and finishes in early April.

Uktus: The sports center is on a territory of 424 hectares among century pines.
Guests of the Uktus can use 4 ski slopes of various difficulty levels. The length of the tracks is 400-750 meters. The elevation is from 54 to 100 m. There are also a snow park, a wellness service, a café and parking. If you are bored with skiing, you can play paintball or tennis, ride horse or relax in the gazebo.
The cost of renting ski kit is 420 rubles per hour. Rent of snowboard with a full kit is 420 rubles too. Climbing on the elevator is 50 rubles. http://www.uktus.ur.ru/

Pil’naya: It is 38 km away from Yekaterinburg, in Pervouralsk. There are 5 ski slopes with a total length of 2800 meters. The maximal elevation is 98.5 m.

A set of ski or snowboard equipment costs 400 rubles per hour. Snow tubing with the elevator costs you 350 rubles. If you want to rent a trainer, you must pay 600 rubles per hour. The cost of parking is 50 rubles for the full day. You can reach Pervouralsk by bus or by train. In addition you can visit the Snow Park or sauna there. http://www.pilnaya.ru/

Volchikha: It is the highest peak in the vicinity of Yekaterinburg.  The Volchikha’s height is 526 meters. There are four slopes. The longest one is 700 m with a height difference of 143 meters.

The cost of tickets for the elevator varies from 300 to 1100 rubles for 3 hours. It depends on the day of the week and time of the day. The cheapest tickets are during the week and in the daytime.
The rent of a package for skiing and snowboarding costs 400 rubles per hour. You must pay 700 rubles per 2 h, 900 rubles per 3 h and 1000 rubles for 4 h or more.
The other entertainments are a snow park, Zorbas, outdoor skating rink and the rent of snowmobiles. Volchikha is situated 5 km from Revda and 7 from Pervouralsk. http://www.volchixa.ru/

Ski Resort 'Belaya'

Belaya: It is located near Nizhny Tagil, more precisely, 37 km away. There is ski rental (from 310 rubles to 710 rubles per hour kit) and snowboard (350 rub.). You can take skates there (100 rub. per hour), and do snow tubing. There is also a swimming pool, high ropes course, a café and a hotel. In addition, you can play strike ball near the Belaya. http://www.gorabelaya.ru/

Abzakovo: It is located in the spur of the ancient Ural Mountains in the   southeast of Bashkortostan, 60 km from Magnitogorsk and 35 km from Beloretsk. Complex Abzakovo is unique in offering a variety of forms of leisure, recreation and entertainment throughout the four seasons.

The rent of snowboard or skiing equipment is 100-600 rub. per hour and 300-800 rub. per day.

http://www.abzakovo.com/

In conclusion, we wish that you spend the winter enjoying fun and health benefits! The information was compiled by Marat Ramazanov for the Your Yekaterinburg English newspaper.