Hello! My name is Luba. I can show you my Yekaterinburg and Middle Urals in Russia!


How to make an ice sculpture


Every winter we post photos of the beautiful ice sculptures from the Square of 1905 in Yekaterinburg and from the Ice contest in front of the Church on the Blood.



While it's hard to see how the ice town in the main scare is built because they put a wall around the square during the construction, you can watch ice sculptors working in front of the Church on the Blood.



The annual contest for the best sculpture is held in front of the church. In 2018 the theme of the ice exhibition was the Romanovs. In July 2018 we have the memorial days dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Tsar's execution.




The sculptors start working two days before Orthodox Christmas and work very fast. I happened to pass the church twice on January 5th. It was amazing to watch how quickly ice cubes are shaping up into pieces of art.





The sculptures will stay here until they melt naturally. Usually it happens in mid February. Untill then you can enjoy the magic of ice!






2 days of hiking in Taganai, Southern Urals


In 2015 I made a post about hiking in Taganai National Park in winter

A year later a young couple from the United States Pravit and Rebecca sent a request do arrange a two-day tour to Taganai in summer time. Luckily, our local guide Ilia who knows Taganai as good as his home town, was available for the dates of the tour and I was able to join to take more photos of the Southern Urals.


You can book this tour here:

Ilia provided our guests with all the equipment, tents, sleeping bags and rucksacks. He even brought woolen socks for everyone which was very smart because the night was chilly to say the least (-1 C). Propely equipped we started our walk 8km till the first peak Mt. Perya (1034)


In summer time Taganai looks as beautiful as in winter. We were lucky because both days were sunny. We could see the town of Zlatoust in Chelyabinsk Region and even a southern ridge of the Urals.

You can see Zlatoust in the back, the nearest town to Taganai

You can see Zlatoust in the back, the nearest town to Taganai

Compare the same place in summer and in winter...



Another great thing was that because of negative temperature at night there were no mosquitoes, none of them for two days! Those who live in the Urals or in the similar climate zone will understand what a luxury it is.

In the evening we got to the tourist shelter.

Ilia is cooking dinner

Ilia is cooking dinner

Tourists can rent a room in the ranger’s house but our American guests chose camping in tents. Recently, a Russian banya has been built at the tourist shelter, so we asked the ranger to prepare it for us.  I didn’t take pictures in the steam bath though because it was dark, steamy and just you know, we forgot to take towels with!

The next morning we climbed Mt. Otkliknoy Greben (1155m).


There’s something like a terrace at the top of it. So we stayed there for an hour to relax and to enjoy complete silence – no other people, no noise, no even birds singing or wind blowing. It was a perfect retreat.



And again, compare the same place in winter time


In case you wondered how much snow we have in winter. Enough, as you can see

In case you wondered how much snow we have in winter. Enough, as you can see

On the way back we stopped at the unique stone river. The river is 6km long, 300-500m wide. 9-tonn rocks are piled in 4 layers at the depth of 6m. The Taganai Stone River is the world largest deposit of aventurine.


The Taganai Stone River is the world largest deposit of aventurine.


Considering the distance from Yekaterinburg (takes about 5hrs by car to get to Taganai), a one day tour to Taganai is too hectic but possible too.

Book a two or three day hiking tour to Taganai here:



Ural Brewery in the atomic town

Beer is not my favourite drink at all but this post is about Ural beer. It turned out that we have a very famous Jaws Brewery in the Urals. Surprisingly, it’s well known in Moscow, Belarus and Kazakhstan but locals don’t know much about it.


As I was going to join an  excursion to the brewery, Greg, an American tourists asked if it was Jaws. I was surprised that a visitor knew that name. Well, it turned out that he had already had a pint at the Jaws Spot in the center of Yekaterinburg. But the brewery is located in the town of Zarechniy, 54 km east of Yekaterinburg.

A tour to Zarechniy would have been impossible in the Soviet era because it’s the site of the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station. The town was built in 1957 to service the second power station in the USSR. Don’t expect to see the power station as it’s located outside the city. But the tour includes a visit of the Atomic Laundry!


picture from

Atomic laundry is the name of the bar. Together with the brewery they are located in the buildings of the former Soviet Laundry, hence the name.

In the bar we did beer tasting. The philosophy of the brewery is to "to bring the beer culture to people". The basic line consists of still rare in Russia types: English Pale Ale, Oatmeal Stout, American Pale Ale.


During the tasting in a cosy bar the bartenders explained the name of the brand: Jaws are huge waves seen on the coast of the Hawaiian island of Maui in the cold winter months. No words can describe their beauty and power and just one look is enough to be fascinated for life. Jaws are often called the mother of all waves. It happened so that the brewery in Zarechniy was the first to bring the culture of the new beer movement to the Urals.


After tasting we had a tour at the experimental brewery next to the bar. Our guide, one of the managers of Jaws explained the process of making new experimental ales.

In 2012 the company decided to put more of the American hops into the "Nuclear Laundry" - one of the first IPA in Russia (and definitely the first IPA in the Urals). To this day bitterness of 80 IBU for the majority of local people is comparable to a nuclear explosion but the owners don’t give up and try to explain that bitterness has its taste and quality.


I was really proud to learn that we have a quality brewery in the Urals. It’s not that popular with the locals yet, but the owners seem to have high ambitions and they have all chances to succeed. They also have a good website well translated into English

So, welcome to Yekateriburg, Russia for quality beer!


How to celebrate Russian Christmas in the Urals


On January 9th 2016 our international team of tourists went to the village of Kostino (130km East of Yekaterinburg) where we celebrated Svyatki. Svyatki or saint days is a mixture of pagan believes and Christian traditions celebrated between Ortodox Christmas (Jan.7th) and Epiphany (Jan. 19th).


The first week of Svyatki is called a saint week and includes celebrating of Christmas. The second week is called "scary". Slavic people believed that evil forces are particular dangerous during that week.  It includes fortune telling at night, carroling and playing outdoor games.


Fortune telling is one of the traditions in January. Young girls got together in a banya at night to find out who they would marry and how soon. But first a girl had to take off her cross. Christian and pagan rites had to be separated.


In Kostino we used candle wax and a bowl with water to predict the future. You can guess the meaning of the shapes made by the drops of wax.


 When carrolling people wear masks of animals (bears, goats, bulls or geese etc) so that they can't be recognized   and one man should be dressed as a goat. If a host refuses to share drinks and treats with carrol singers, the goat can do some mischief. That's why we were treated well and our ‘goat’ – a French guest Gerard got a lot of drinks.


We all agreed that Kostino is worth coming back in summer. So on July 9th we'll have another weekend tour to the village to celebrate a pagan slavic day of Ivan Kupala!


9Special thanks to my Moscow friend Katya Sverchkova for the beautiful photos.


Emerald deposit of the Urals

On May 31, 2015 we made a trip to the Emerald deposit in the village of Malysheva near the town of Asbest (100km of Yekaterinburg). Some of the tourists were lucky to find beryls and even emeralds!


The first Ural emeralds were found in 1831. The oldest emerald mine is flooded now but it's possible to find emeralds here once the mine gets dry again


Emerald quarry - a restricted area

Emerald quarry - a restricted area

In the village we also stopped at the stone cutting workshop and made serpentine fridge magnets - a popular souvenir from the Urals.

a chunk of marble at the stone cutting work shop

a chunk of marble at the stone cutting work shop

Most of the citizens of the Malysheva village know how to cut and polish Ural gems


Ural serpentine - a popular decorative stone


Making fridge magnets


And this is where everyone can find beryls and emeralds - at refuse heaps of the quarry


In such minerals (mica) you can find a beryl or an emerald. Emeralds are a greener and more transparent type of a beryl:


Here's what I found: the emerald of the 5th category - a light green stone. Jewelers use emeralds of the 1st category - deep green transparent stones.




100 wonders in the Urals – a new English guide book

I’m glad to write here about a new guide book on the Great Urals which is now available in English in Yekaterinburg!

“100 wonders in the Urals: natural and man-made” is the ultimate tour guide to the Urals. It comprises 10 areas areas: Sverdlovsk Oblast, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Kurgan Oblast, Tyumen Oblast, Orenburg Oblast, Perm Krai, KhMAO (Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug), YaNAO (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug), Republic of Bashkortostan and Republic of Komi.


All of the 100 outstanding sights of interest in the Great Urals are accessible for tourist trips by car, train or air. I believe, this guide book will be ideal for the expats who live in the Urals and for the tourists who want to bring a good and memorable souvenir from the Urals back home.

According to Max Weston, one of the translation editors, “This book opens up one of the most overlooked and magical travel destinations in the world. The Urals are the home of mighty rivers, thick forests and soaring mountains. Man has long battled to harness the endless resources of this boundless, beautiful landscape. Cities, factories and railroads transect this landscape which is dotted with historical sites and natural phenomena. “100 wonders in the Urals” is the ultimate tour guide for this region. It contains an unrivalled level of detail and information – it will both inform and inspire you as you unlock this wonderful world.”


 The structure of the book is based on the level of uniqueness of the collected wonders:

Wonders at the world level – 20 objects which are possibly unique in the world: there are no analogues on the planet or they are very scarce; leading objects in terms of a certain parameter (size or quality); archeological or historical discoveries or findings that have become sensations in the world of science.

Wonders at the level of Russia – 40 objects which are unique for Russia: wonders that are the only ones of their kind on a country scale; the ones listed in any of the prestigious all-Russian top lists; winners of various contests; unofficial capitals; the very best in Russia by length, age, height, production volume and other criteria.

Wonders at the level of the Urals – 30 objects, extraordinary within the area of the Great Urals: you cannot find anything similar here; the largest or the oldest – these definitions are quite applicable for such monuments if you talk about the ten areas of the Urals.


Here you can find various types of interesting destinations from nature parks to the private Museum of Rasputin and the anomalous zone in Molebka. The latter has a long list of abnormalities such as unusual laminations at night, flying balls, black silhouettes, sound mirages etc. Besides, there’s a list of the TOP-10 events that make a difference on a Russian level: the longest by duration and by number of participants for tournaments and festivals, the events are unique in the country, contests of significance on the Russian level.


The guide book 100 wonders in the Urals can be purchased in Yekaterinburg for 1500rub.

You can order it via this website and the managers of the Publishing House ‘First Hand’ will deliver it to you upon your arrival in Yekaterinburg.

 Photos by