Sunday, October 9, 2011


(does not include Moscow, St. Petersburg, or Ukraine)

Trains –
Tsar Voyages – 16/4 Malaya Loubyanka (Moscow); 011-7-66-24749-5649;; for individual tours of “Golden Ring” towns.

Sights & Sites
Denisova Cave (Aju-Tasch) – Soloneshenskij District (just at Altai Republic border, Anui River right bank, 5.4 km north-west from Chernyy Anuy (Black Anui) village);; not especially large, nor adorned with stalactites – but bone splinter found here changed how we look at our past: ancient people who lived here had company of another human species; current Russian name comes from eremite Dionisij (Denis) who lived here in 2nd half 18th Century; Altai people call cave Aju-Tasch – Bear Rock; Siberian archaeologist Nikolai Ovodov started excavations in 1977; since 1982, established permanent camp; scientists have extracted approximately 50K artefacts thus far, with 125K years-old artefacts left by Neanderthals (although now there is open question - were they Neanderthals?).

GOLDEN RING (ring of cities northeast of Moscow, formerly known as Zalesye; includes Alexandrov, Borisoglebsky, Gus-Khrustalny, Ivanovo, Kostroma, Myshkin, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Plyos, Rostov Velikiy, Rybinsk, Sergiyev Posad, Suzdal, Uglich, Vladimir, Yaroslavl)

Sights & Sites
Borisoglebsky Monastery – 1 Borisoglebsky Pereulok; 011-7-485-362-1184; starkly impressive; built in 16th Century, with massive towers and walls; inside, magnificent carved, wooden iconostasis.

Sights & Sites
Fyodorovsky Monastery – Yaroslavlskoye Shosse (M-8); 16th Century, walled monastery; built by Ivan Terrible to commemorate his son Fyodor’s birth.
Goritsky Monastery of Dormition & Museum – 4 Muzejnyj Pereulok; 011-7-485-353-3124;; Russian Orthodox monastery supposedly established in early 14th Century under Ivan I; no original architecture preserved, oldest parts dating to 17-18th Centuries.
Nikolsky Women’s Monastery – 43 Ulitsa Gagarina (southwest of Kremlin); beautifully and massively renovated; since founding in 1350, been on brink of destruction, from Communists, Poles, and Tatars; in 1994, 4 Yaroslavl Tolga Convent nuns came to restore.

Fortecia Rus Hotel – 90 Ulitsa Lenina; 011-7-493-394-3781;; nestled Volga River’s banks; functional; sauna and free Wi-Fi access; guestrooms have cable TV and seating areas; some accommodation self-contained (cottages) and feature balconies overlooking picturesque Plyos countryside; small zoo.
Chastni Visit – 7 Ulitsa Gornaya Slobda; 011-7-499-500-3808;; full pension (inn and restaurant); food and view are worth price, which is steep.
Chastni Visit – 7 Ulitsa Gornaya Slobda; 011-7-499-500-3808;

Rostov Veliky
Boyarsky Dvor – 4 Kamenny Most; 011-7-485-366-0446;; renovated, 2-story 19th Century town house; comfortable and convenient but functional and spare.
Russkoye Podvorye – 9 Ulitsa Marshala Alexeyeva; 011-7-485-366-4255;; exhaustive menu; Russian specialities include blini with red caviar or smetana (sour cream), chebureki (fried meat pastries), pelmeni (dumplings), and piroshki (cabbage or meat buns); try local medovukha, mildly alcoholic beverage made from honey.
Sights & Sites
Kremlin – Ulitsa Karla Marksa; 011-7-485-366-1717; unashamedly photogenic; founded in 12th Century, nearly all buildings date to 1670s-80s; with 5 magnificent domes, Assumption Cathedral dominates (just outside latter’s north wall); monks play magnificent bell concerts, which can be arranged through excursions office in west gate for R500; Gate-Church of St. John Divine and Gate-Church of Resurrection are richly decorated with 17th Century frescoes; open only from May-September; Church of Saviour-over-Galleries has most beautiful interior of all, covered in colorful frescoes, Red Chamber showing finift (enamelled miniatures).
Spasso-Yakovlevsky Monastery – left from Kremlin on city outskirts; founded in 14th Century by St. Iakov of Rostov; earliest building is Zachatievsky Cathedral (Cathedral of Conception of St. Anna), constructed in 1686; venerated as St. Dmitry shrine.

Sergiyev Posad
Sights & Sites
Trinity Monastery (Lavra) of St. Sergei & Museum – 144 Prospekt Krasnoi; 011-7-495-786-2708;; lavra is highest rank Orthodox monastery (only 4 in Russia), Russian Orthodox equivalent of Vatican; medieval building complex rivals Kremlin; named after St. Sergii of Radonezh, 14th Century monk from Rostov whose ascetic, pious existence attracted numerous followers to hermit retreat he established in forests around Moscow; wooden monastery he and followers build razed by Tartars shortly after his death but tomb survives; in 1422, he is canonized and so work begins on Trinity Cathedral, imposing, white-stone building, with unusual sloping walls and gold dome (becomes Russian church architecture blue-print and inspires Kremlin’s Cathedral of Assumption; in 1458, brick chapel added to house his successor’s, Nikon of Radonezh, tomb; inside Cathedral, silver shrine contains St. Sergii’s relics and iconostasis with many works by Andrei Rublev; in 1476, Ivan Great instructs craftsmen from Pskov to build Church of Holy Ghost, white brick rectangular structure topped by blue and gold domed bell-tower; after 1540, monastery’s wooden fortifications replaced with mile-long, still-standing brick walls (made higher in mid-17th Century, and tent-roofed spires added to 6 of 10 defensive towers; in 1585, Cathedral of Assumption completed (during Boris Gudonov’s regency, he and his family lying in modest tomb beneath Cathedral walls; cathedral’s white walls contrast with 4 azure domes and larger central gold one; Refectory, palatial building with brightly coloured and intricate decorations, completed in 1692.

Goryachi Klyuchi – 14 Ulitsa Korovniki; 011-7-492-312-4000;; notable for hot springs access.
Sights & Sites
Museum of Wooden Architecture & Peasant Life – Oul. Pouchkarskaïa; 011-7-492-312-0784;; Church of Transfiguration with its domes covered in silvery aspen shingles (1756), and its more modest neighbor, Church of Resurrection (1776), surrounded by isbas with reconstructed interiors, as well as mills, sheepfolds, wells and barns on stilts on Kamenka River banks, thus protected from flooding and fires; reconstructed 18-19th Century village.

Volga Pearl – Vozhskaya Naberezhnaya; 011-7-485-273-1273;; converted riverboat station, poised right on Volga River’s banks; lovely location but steep and accommodations not all that great.
Sights & Sites
Church of Elijah – Sovetskaya Plaza;; UNESCO World Heritage site; exquisite church built by prominent 17th Century fur dealers; some of Golden Ring’s brightest frescoes by ubiquitous Gury Nikitin of Kostroma and his school, and detailed exterior tiles.

Lake Kurile
Sights & Sites
Kutkhiny Baty – Kurile Lake (4 kilometers of River Ozernaya source);; deep in Kamceatka peninsula lies eerie, unique valley – Kutkhiny Baty – “Weird Valley”; made from whitish pumice stone; has to be seen.

Sights & Sites
Kamchatka Volcanoes –; large volcano group (160, 29 still active) along Kamchatka River & surrounding central side valley; highest is Klyuchevskaya Sopka (16K'), most striking is Kronotsky, most accessible are 3 visible from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky: Koryaksky, Avachinsky & Kozelsky.

Sights & Sites
Kyakhta Museum of Local Lore – 49 Ulitsa Lenin; 011-7-30142-91-235;; building dates from 1890; museum founded in 1922 and still with original glass and hardwood display cases (pickled foetuses, pinned butterflies, taxidermically-stuffed animals); imaginative displays of treasures salvaged from Buddhist Datsan and Cathedral; Siamese twin sheep, Central Asian explorer route depictions, throne made from elk antlers, Mongolian chess set, Chinese tea jars, cosmonauts’ toothpaste-style-dinner-food tubes.
Main Square – Ulitsa Lenin; restored in 1853, 11 stone trading arches (Ryady Gostinye) supporting 2-story former tea bourse.
Svyato-Troitsky Cathedral – built in 1817; impressive but ruined shell in equally ruined fairground in central park.
Voskressnaya Church – wooden cathedral built mid-18th Century (1838); Russian classical structure designed by Moscow architect Grigory Gerasimov; at one time, no churches in Siberia richer and more beautiful; once had icon stand made of bronze with crystal columns and entrance gates supposedly of silver; tea trade prosperity symbol.
Zdanie Gostinogo Dvora – southern town part; 1842 customs warehouse.

Sights & Sites
Divnogorsk Dam – Divinogorsk (on Yenisey River about 19 miles upstream from Krasnoyarsk); 407' high, concrete gravity dam; constructed from 1956-1972.
Krasnoyarsk Regional Museum – 84 Dubrovinskogo; 011-7-391-265-3488;; Tunguska exhibit.
Stolby Nature Reserve – Ulitsa Sibirskaya (chair lift next to Cafe Bobrovyylog, by far easiest access);; stolby are spiky volcanic rock pillars called stolby; these litter 17K-hectare reserve south of Yenisey River; from chair lift top, walk 2 minutes to great viewpoint or 40 minutes to reach impressive Takmak Stolby; infected ticks are dangerous between May and July.

Lake Baikal Area
Circum-Baikal Railway – from Slyudyanka (or Kultuk) to Port Baikal; or; historical railway in Irkutsk region.

Sights & Sites
Riverside Cliffs – 20 minute walk from center.
Dekabrist Museum – 51 Ulitsa Lenin; in A.D. Startsev’s former house.
Spassky Church – 2 kms from center, on river banks; built in 1789.

Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Coffee Expert – 39a Kommunisticheskaya Street; 011-7-342-221-8508;; coffee.
Zhivago – 37 Lenina Street; 011-7-342-235-1716; innovative bakery-café-restaurant complex in striking glass and stone building.
Amaks Premier Hotel – 43 Ordzhonikidze Street; 011-7-342-220-6060;; blandly comfortable and modern; disco-bowling alley off main lobby.
Ural Hotel – 58 Lenina Street; 011-7-342-218-6261;; nicely renovated.
Pelmennaya #2 – 47 Lenina Street; 011-7-342-212-3895; features 50 pelmeni (Siberian dumpling) types, in lively beer-hall setting.
Pelmennaya #3 – 67 Lenina Street; 011-7-342-233-0158; features 50 pelmeni (Siberian dumpling) types, in lively beer-hall setting.
Stroganovskaya Votchina – 58 Lenina Street (at Ural Hotel); 011-7-342-218-6261;; try bear and beef meat stroganoff.
Zhivago – 37 Lenina Street; 011-7-342-235-1716; innovative restaurant in striking glass and stone building; French-Russian fusion.
Visit Perm –; many visitor resources, including Green Line information.
Sights & Sites
Berezniki Salt Mine – Berezniki.
Kungur Ice Caves – Kungursky District (Perm Krai);; 45 minute drive from Perm.
Sergei Diaghilev Museum – 33 Sibirskaya Street; 011-7-342-212-0610; small; lovingly curated.
Green Line –; self-guided walking tour; worth special effort.
Gribushin House – 13a Lenina Street; “House with Figures” from Dr. Zhivago.
Perm Museum of Modern Art – 2 Ordzhonikidze Street; 011-7-342-219-9172;; features artists like Valery Koshlyakov and Misha Most.
Perm Opera & Ballet Theater – 25a Petropavlovskaya Street; 011-7-342-212-3087;; built in 1870s.
Perm State Art Gallery – 4 Komsomolsky Prospekt; 011-7-342-212-2250;; housed in former 18th Century Transfiguration of Our Savior Cathedral; country’s foremost collection of icons and Russian old master paintings.
Perm-36 – 10 Gagarina Boulevard, Suite 122; 011-7-3422-212-5762;; gulag museum.
Pushkin Library – Sibirskaya Street (Smyshlyaev House, on 2nd floor); where Pasternak worked and based his fateful reunion between Zhivago and Lara.
Theater-Theater – 53 Lenina Street; 011-7-342-236-4553;

Sights & Sites
Posolsky Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery – founded in 1681; place chosen because where, in 1651, Russian embassy to Mongolia members killed and buried; consecrated in honour of Saint Svyatitel and Chudotvorets (Wondermaker) Nikolay; became famous for miracles; in 1998, transferred to Chita and Transbaikalian diocese; Siberian baroque.

Irkutsk Hydrofoil – leaves from Raketa Harbor (Irkutsk); 011-7-3952-238-072 or 011-7-3952-358-860; or

Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) – 011-7-44-227-5198; or; from here to Sovetskaya Gavan (Pacific Ocean); 21 tunnels, 4.2K bridges.

Sights & Sites
Lena Pillars Nature Park – near villages of Bulgunnyakhtah & Elanka;; spectacular rock pillars that 100 m along Lena River; pillars form rocky buttresses isolated from each other by deep & steep gullies, developed by frost shattering directed along intervening joints; site also contains wealth of Cambrian fossil remains of numerous species, some of them unique.

Ordzhonikidze – 96/5 Kurotnii Prospekt; 011-7-862-297-6657;; former Soviet-era sanitorium; lined with fountains and subtropical gardens; must book 1 month in advance and have someone who speaks Russian with you.
Grand Hotel Rodina – 33 Vinogradnaya Street; 011-7-8622-53-90-00;; recently renovated; tasteful, minimalist interior with secluded beach views; best choice in Sochi.
Radisson SAS Lazurnaya – 103 Kurotnil Prospekt; 011-7-495-411-7777;; sleek glass tower overlooking Black Sea.
Zhemchuzhina – 3 Chernomorskaya; 011-7-8622-66-11-88;; giant, cement block hotel that feels like old Las Vegas; centrally located; nicer rooms have great views and air-conditioning; beach is just steps away.
Amshenski Dvor – 15a Krasnaplotskaya; 011-7-862-295-5121; 30-minute drive from Rodina towards Krasnaya Polyana; mostly open-air Armenian restaurant, set behind structure that looks like ship prow; peacocks wander courtyard, grapevines drape over and around cabanas, communal tables hewn from whole trees; house specialties include fried egg and cheese on fluffy homemade lavash bread, polenta-like cornmeal mamaliga, and grape leaves stuffed with fresh cheese, mild rice, and lamb in nutmeg-tomato sauce; bathrooms better left undescribed.
Sinee More – Chernomoroskaya Ulitsa, Frunze Park; 011-7-8622-66-21-21; most Mediterranean restaurant in town; seafood.
Vodopadi Lozadi – 16 Primorskaya Ulitsa; faux country cabin near beach that serves traditional Georgian fare; very good and affordable.

VLADIMIR REGION (includes Gus-Khrustalny & Suzdal)
Sights & Sites
Wooden Architecture & Peasant Life Museum – Pushkarskaya Street (Suzdal, on Kamenka River’s right bank); 011-7-49-2312-0784;; open-air museum consists of 18th and 19th Century wooden buildings brought here from various Vladimir Region locations.
Vladimir-Suzdal Museum Reserve (Gus-Khrustalny Extension) – 2a Kalinin Street (Gus-Khrustalny); 011-7-49-2412-1930;; crystal museum.
Vladimir-Suzdal Museum Reserve (Suzdal Extension) – 22 Lenin Street (Suzdal); 011-7-49-2312-0937;; icon museum.
Vladimir-Suzdal Museum Reserve (Vladimir Extension) – 43 Bolshaya Moskovskaya Street (Vladimir); 011-7-49-2242-0680;; history museum.

Sights & Sites
Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery – Shirokaya Rechka; Mafia Cemetery; where some bad and glamorous people laid to rest; gangsters’ images laser-engraved on expensive granite gravestones, in some cases life-sized and in all their former bling glory; in one case, Mafia father and son murdered in contract killing separated by another stone depicting their favorite Volvo.

No comments:

Post a Comment