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25May/110

Europe-Asia border. Is it worth it?

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...

Obelisk near the town of Pervouralsk (40km from Yekaterinburg)

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.

Book the tour to the Europa-Asian border here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/europe-asia-border

German couple under the tree made by local blacksmith Pastukhov. Similar tree grows in London

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 simplest obelisk but closest to the city (17km from Yekaterinburg)

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.

Book the tour to the Europa-Asian border here: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/europe-asia-border

Of course there are many more marks all along the Ural Mountains:

17May/113

Eco-Tour to Nature Park Olenyi Ruchyi (Deer Streams)

As summer is coming soon to the Urals, eco-tours and mountain trekking are in great demand. If you stay in Yekaterinburg for a few days, do find some time to go to Nature Park Olenyi Ruchyi (Deer Streams).  The park is very popular with local and foreign tourists due to its location – 130 km. from Yekaterinburg which is very close in terms of Russian distances.

The park is only 30 km long and 6 km wide, but the landscape is very diverse. 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.

Book the tour to the Nature Park: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/deer-streams

 

There are no deer nowadays, but plenty of beavers, elks, roebucks, hogs, weasels and martens; the latter like to destroy the hives of wild bees.

There are 48 ancient caves in the park. Finno-Ugric hunters lived in the caves in 4.000b.c. Their traces can be found on the rocks – those are inscriptions and drawings of red deer, hence the name of the Park Olenyi Ruchyi

Take a closer look and you will see a drawing of a deer in the middle

Cave Druzhba (Friendship) is 500 meters long and it’s full of water in spring time. In summer, however, you can find  prints of sea shells there which prove that the sea used to divide European and Asian continents 400 million years ago.

Entrance to Cave Druzhba

make sure you have a torch or at least a cell to walk in complete darkness

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.

Bolshoy Proval is 33 m. deep and chilly. Requires good footwear

One of the symbols of the nature park is the Angel of Hope.  Similar angels can be found in Canada, Australia, Peru, Hawaii and many other countries.

The project was created by Swedish artist Lena Edval in 2004. Her angels are hugging the planet protecting it from catastrophes and terrorism.

Your wish will come true if you touch the angel's wings, but not a materialistic wish!

There are two trails in the park. The short trail is 6 km (it takes about 4 hours) and the great trail is 15 km (7 hours). In both cases take snacks and drinks with you. There are a few spots where you can make a fire and pitch a tent, should you decide to stay overnight. Alternatively there are cottages to rent at the park entrance and a beer garden run by a German expat who chose to be a permanent resident in the Ural woods.

 

Tel. +79041725565  www.olen.ur.ru

Getting there from Yekaterinburg: by car getting there can be complicated without a navigator. Drive 120 km down Moskovsky Trakt highway. Pass the police checkpoint near Druzhinino and petrol station, then take a right turn towards Nizhniye Sergi. Follow the sign to Mikhailovsk. When you pass Polovinka village drive 2.4 km  to the crossroad then turn to the left and drive 2 km to the car parking.

by bus from bus station Yuzhny Avtovokzal (8 Marta St. 145) take a bus to Mikhailovsk or Arty. Get off before Bazhukovo (tell the driver beforehand where you are going as there is no bus stop) then walk 2 km.

Book the tour to the Nature Park: http://yekaterinburg4u.ru/en/tours/deer-streams

 

3Dec/103

Public transport in Yekaterinburg

My foreign friends in Yekaterinburg keep asking me the same question about public transport. Car is not always a good option – some central streets are very narrow and they are even narrower in winter when there are only two ruts in snow. It seems that Yekaterinburg has a good transport system with many buses, trolleys and trams. But does it work well when you don’t know the city and can hardly speak Russian?

 

First of all, there is no determined timetable for public transport. You just go to the bust stop and hope for the best. While buses and trolleybuses stuck in traffic jams every now and then, trams are more reliable. However, Russian drivers and renowned for being terribly impatient so they often use tram tracks to overtake the others and block the traffic completely. Note that some trams have weird routs. For example, if you take Tram 3 form the train station to Lenin Avenue, it doesn’t mean that you can get back to the train station by the same tram as it runs one way in circles. Even after 10 in this city I get perplexed by their routs so it’s a good idea to ask (in Russian) people at the bus stop or a conductor in a tram where it’s heading to.

Those who have already been to Russia know about marshrutkas (minibuses). They duplicate bus routes and run quicker though not safer. Marshrutkas belong to private companies that tend to hire unqualified emigrants from the former Soviet Republics as drivers. They don’t always know Russian, let alone Russian traffic laws. Still the main problem is that in order to make more money marshrutkas drivers overwork sometimes spending twelve hours a day behind the wheel.

Let’s not forget about the metro. Yekaterinburg Metro used to be listed in the Guinness Record Book as the shortest underground in the world. Now that it’s got 7th station, it isn’t famous anymore but is very short all the same. Local metro stations are good for sightseeing. They are decorated with marble and Ural gems and they are not as crowded as in Moscow.

If you travel by Trans-Siberian and arrive at the Main Train Station you can jump into any trolleybus. They all go to the city centre and stop at Church on the Blood. Or you can use metro from Uralskaya station to Ploschad 1905.

Public transport can be complicated for foreigners. On the bright side of things it’s cheap: 18 roubles and you can pay directly to a stout lady-conductor in a bus or a tram. Besides, public transport in Yekaterinburg and all over Russia never stops functioning even when it’s -35 and roads are covered with one meter of snow!