The Arktika Train: Moscow to Murmansk

Today I want to present you the Artika train (Artic train), that takes you from Moscow to Murmansk, above the Artic Circle, and/or back. Murmansk is by far the largest city north of the Arctic Circle (with a population of around 300.000 people) and is a major port on the Arctic Ocean. It is located in the extreme northwest part of Russia, on the Kola Bay, an inlet of the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula, close to Russia's borders with Norway.

Gagarin’s glory

If you can read Cyrillic, you will already have noticed that the town's name is Gagarin, in honour of the first human to journey into outer space: Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin or simply Yuri Gagarin. The Soviet cosmonaut was born on March 9th, 1934, in the nearby village of Klushino and after his death in 1968 (when the MiG-15 training jet he was piloting crashed) the city was renamed in his honour (and I suspect, but that's just my speculation, also because the former name of Gzhatsk - Гжатск - was all but unpronounceable!).

Low flying Tupolev in Smolensk

The monument is actually not a replica, but a real retired Tu-16 from the the 46 VA VGK (SN) heavy bomber unit that was based in Smolensk. If you are a bit of an airplane fanatic (like me) and you visit Smolensk, then you just have to go and see the Tupolev Tu-16 monument just a few hundred meters (about a quarter mile) due West from the center of town, at the southern "vertex" of a small triangular shaped park.

Pizza with figs in Murmansk – Gordon Ramsay approves!

Pizza with figs in Murmansk - Gordon Ramsay approves. As mentioned in the title, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay explicitly approves figs on a pizza, as this tweet from last October clearly demonstrates. I doubt, on the other hand, that he would approve the underlying pizza, with semi-melted mozzarella(?) shreds and some sad, sad looking salad leaves in the middle!

Crime and Punishment in the Moscow Metro

The Dostoyevskaya station on Moscow Metro line 10 has a very interesting story. The construction of the station started in the 1990s though soon it was halted due to insufficient funding. Building resumed only in 2007 when money flow resumed and right and left rail tunnels were built, but then in April 2009 the lack of funds forced the Moscow Metro authorities to delay the station's opening to May 2010 and then again to June 2010.

Sad news, a sad realization, and an important lesson

Unfortunately, as you can see from the picture above (picture from Russian Wikipedia, slightly edited), late on Monday, August 7, 2017, the building collapsed. After the first signs of the beginning of the collapse, the local police fenced the perimeter and therefore there has been no injury as a result of the collapse. At 23:45 the roof of the lower section and the southern wall of the semicircular section both collapsed.

The very Gehrysh Planeta KVN in Moscow

The former “Havana” Movie Theatre, now transformed in the Planeta VKN Youth Center. The three big letters you see on the front of the building are actually not "KBH" as one instinctively reads them in English (or Latin alphabet), but they are the Cyrillic letters KVN. They stand for Klub Vesyólykh i Nakhódchivykh or Ka-Ve-En, which translates into “Club of the Funny and Inventive”.

The thermal waters of Krasnousolsky

his is just an example of one of the endless Russian gems that foreign tourist almost never get to experience. The main reason why is that this natural spa is a 2 hour drive from Ufa and a good 20 hour drive from Moscow, but if you are persistent enough to get to Krasnousolsk and then still a bit further up the road to the spa resort, you will be rewarded with a pristine nature and wonderful thermal waters.

Museum of Soviet Lifestyle – Kazan

Museum of Soviet Lifestyle in Kazan. In the winter of 2011 the citizens of Kazan had an opportunity to travel some 30-40 years back in time. An exposition called "Jeans as a cult (60s - 80s)" gave a pretty unique prospective on the last two decades of the USSR, when a simple fabric (Jeans) could express all the desire for change of a nation, during the immobilism and stagnation of the late Brezniev years to the tumultuous end of the Soviet Union under Gorbachev.

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