Monday 31st July 2017
Here is a map of the walk we roughly did that day starting from Universitetskiy pereulok, 3 where the apartment we were renting with airbnb was located.
We left the apartment and walked past the small market again. We went to the shopping mall underground where there was a ‘small Big Ben’ and a sculpture of a woman the head lost in her purse. I spent a good half-hour at T2 trying to understand why the SIM card I had bought in Irkutsk didn’t work to call other Russian’s numbers like my dad’s one. They explained to me that the plan I had taken allowed mobile data all over the country but calls and sms only in the Irkutsk area. They offered some alternative plans I could take but they required to change phone number. Ultimately, mobile data was just what I needed so after 30 min chat in broken Russian through google translate with the help of a patient couple waiting to be served who happened to love old French music and sing to me some bits of Charles Aznavour and Edith Piaf, I finally left the shop and we were finally off again going visiting things.
We started our walk through the streets and passed a burger king. It is funny to see it written in cyrillic letters.
We saw that the Urals Geology Museum was closed and then went through a park.
Then we visited the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
After that we walked to a nice Georgian restaurant where we had lunch.
Then we continued our walk towards the walking streets. Yekaterinburg appeared to be a really modern city, with clean, colourful and artsy streets and a vibrant atmosphere. All these cities we saw, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk and now Yekaterinburg, surprised us in a really positive way, compared to the communist boring dull image of stern buildings I thought I would see. The Russia of today is definitely not the Russia of the Cold War times I pictured. I wish I could have walked these streets in 1980 to see how it looked. Was it really really different?
We bumped into a street art exhibition of posters of propaganda during the war on one side and paintings from Russian painters on the other side. I wish I spoke Russian and could understand what description was written on them!
Then we continued our walk alongside towards the Vysotsky Tower passing on our way various sculptures, cool graffitis, interesting street performers, Kvas street sellers of course, children having fun in ground water fountains while teenagers were swimming in proper fountains.
We passed the iconic Trade Union Building built in 1860, former house of the merchant Sevastyanov.
We also saw the Russian historian Vasily Tatishchev and Russian engineer Georg Wilhelm de Gennin who founded Yekaterinburg in 1723.
We arrived at the Vysotsky Tower built in 2011 who is 188 meters high, making it the second tallest tower of Russia outside of Moscow buildings and also the northernmost building over 150 meters tall worldwide. It is called Vysotsky after the poet, musician and actor Vladimir Vysotsky. It is also a pun as vysoky means tall in Russian. We went inside to the top floor at 186 meters from which we could admire the city and to the floor just under it where we had a drink. It reminded me about my favourite bar in Sydney from which the view is really great, the O Bar, except it wasn’t turning 360 degrees and the customer service wasn’t as good either! Russians tend to be really friendly, but the tower staff we saw that day wasn’t!
After that, we walked back towards our airbnb appartment.
We stopped at the supermarket to buy some fruits and veggies for an evening dinner at home and for the meals for the next day. That huge supermarket had an incredible choice of goods although prices were sometimes as expensive as Australian prices for some products such as AUD 3 for an avocado or AUD 4.50 for a mango. It drove me crazy again to see so many people using bloody useless plastic bags they honestly didn’t need to put a tomato in one plastic bag, two oranges in another plastic bag, one avocado in another plastic bag. Seriously people..Aren’t there enough plastic bags in the ocean by now that you still need to use more when you can really do without?? Russia, come on, wake up, wake up. You are a too big country to not be a model when it comes to recycling and suppressing single-use plastic bags the way many developed countries have done it recently. It takes also so much time for people to change habits and mindset when they have been conditioned to act in a specific way without ever questioning why they do what they do. We are all guilty of that I guess. Anyway…sad and frustrating to see though when such a change of habit seems so simple and makes such a difference.
After that long day walking and exploring Yekaterinburg, we went back home, had showers, rested, read, caught-up on emails and the world.
Next day, off to Nizhny-Novgorod!