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Showing posts from October, 2010


Tobolsk - The Perfect Russian Village

Tobolsk - Picture Perfect If Tomsk was a charming modern Russian city, then World Heritage listed Tobolsk, with its white washed Kremlin and star spangled onion domes, looked like the Russia I had imagined from picture books and fairytales. Set high on a hill, with industry and concrete apartment blocks relegated to an adjoining new town, there were beautifully laid out squares with fountains, flowers and trees. Everything looked freshly scrubbed and as if nothing had changed in hundreds of years. St. Sophia's Cathedral looked like it was made of marzipan After a successful defence led by a band of Cossacks, a fortress was built in Tobolsk in 1587 to keep the unruly Tartars in check. However grateful the Tsar might have been, he soon needed someone to keep the unruly Cossacks in check. According to Lonely Planet, ( Russia and Belarus , 2006: 502) the first major religious centre in Siberia was established here in 1620 “…to stamp out incest, wife-renting and spouse

On The Rails II

Cooling off during a stop at a station There are many Trans Siberian trains - fast ones, slow ones, old ones, new ones and even different routes. Some are so long that the carriages extend well beyond the platform and it can be a long walk before you reach the station. Forget about wheeled suitcases – there are too many stairs, the great leap forward into the trains is steep and the platforms are often very rough. Pity help the slow or disabled. The lines are always busy. Timber goes west. Mining equipment and machinery, including tanks, goes east and south. It’s not uncommon to see a gas or petrol train pulling sixty – nine wagons. Another Day, another train The scenery stays much the same for thousands of miles – mostly taiga (pine forest), or mixed forest with birch - interspersed with huge rolling fields, rustic villages with wooden houses and an onion domed church – very impressive when you first see them, or big cities with ugly industrial sites and concrete flats.

The Charming City of Tomsk

Tomsk Town Centre - Photo by Albert Valeev In Tomsk I was met by Albert, another member of the Hospitality Club. Although he was in the process of renovating his apartment and had a gigantic new window arriving the next day, he took time out to show me around this lovely town. Tomsk has long been a university town and shows the benefit of good planning. In the beautifully landscaped city centre, building heights have been restricted to show the attractive historical buildings to best advantage. Industry and apartment blocks are confined to the suburbs, while lovingly preserved traditional timber houses in the inner city add a rustic feel and a green heart. Like most Russian Cities, Tomsk has its statue of Lenin. Here he appears to be directing the traffic Photo by Albert Valeev  Tomsk began life in 1604 as a humble fortress like this   As we wandered through the streets, Albert pointed out quaint and curious customs which I would never have known abou