Wednesday 26th July
We arrived at 7.13am sharp local time in Novosibirsk. Transsiberian trains are always perfectly on time! Here was the 760km train journey we did over about 12 hours.
From there, we went to the hotel with an Uber, dropped our stuff there, had a rest and some breakfast and then went for lunch to a Georgian restaurant called Tiflis where the food was tasty, in particular their bread and where we had delicious Armenian wine but quite strong which made us quite sleepy for the rest of the afternoon!
Novosibirsk was founded in 1893 when the transsiberian train was built. It was called Novonikolaevsk after the last tsar until 1925. About 60,000 people died from typhus in the twenties right after the Civil War. The city changed name in 1925 to be called Novosibirsk which means ‘New Siberia’. It kept growing since the twenties and became the third biggest city of Russia with 1.5 million inhabitants nowadays. The city was built as an industrial and transport centre as it is located near the coal fields of the East and the minerals of the Urals to the west. In the 1930s, another important railway line of 2,600 kms was completed called the Turk-Sib railway which goes from Novosibirsk to Arys in South Kazakhstan, to facilitate the export of grain to Kazakhstan and the import of cotton to Russia. That sounds like another interesting train to take!
After lunch, we walked towards the opera. Novosibirsk appeared to be quite a modern city too.
In front of the opera is the statue of Lenin.
Behind him on the left are three men representing the peasant, the soldier and the worker following him.
On the other side is a couple representing the socialist future, holding a torch and a stalk of wheat and who seems to be directing the traffic.
The small park itself near the opera was nice and artsy.
We went inside the opera which construction was finished in 1945 and is one of the largest in the world. We tagged along a Portuguese tour group and were lucky to visit not only the inside but also go behind the stage to see all the decor elements. We would have liked to see a performance there but there are none in summer sadly.
After the visit of the opera, we went to see the small Chapel of St Nicholas which is said to mark the geographic centre of Russia and opened during the city’s centenary celebrations in 1993.
Then we walked around a bit. The square right near the fountain had lots going on. We then walked through the park and got some veggies and fruits and had that later for dinner.
Next day, let’s explore around Novosibirsk!