Krasnoyarsk, and Our Last Russian Train

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yesterday, we arrived in Krasnoyarsk at a relatively early hour, and were picked up by Anatoliy, who runs a homestay and guide business in the city. He drove us to his apartment, while giving us the lay of the land in excellent English. It was up to par with the hotels we’ve stayed in, and included a wonderful breakfast of bliny (Russian crepes) filled with cheese and melted cheese over soft bread this morning, cooked by his wife Oksana.

We showered, got ourselves put back together, and headed down to see the city. Sadly, we hadn’t been careful about checking what days of the week museums and such were closed in Krasnoyarsk, and so, by unlucky coincidence, we were there on a Monday, when literally none of their tourist attractions are open. (Unlike the US, where if something is closed one day a week, it’s most likely a day on the weekend, Russia doesn’t have that same regularity. Most places are closed once a week, but the day of the week varies widely).

So, we spent our day wandering around downtown Krasnoyarsk, looking at the outsides of things, but generally not going in them. Our first stop was to the north of the city, where we hoped to do a little souvenir shopping at a market that was listed there. However, it turned out that the market was for locals, rather than tourists, so we found little of interest (but a very wide selection of jeans and coats). On our way, we got a good shot of a tiny little church that is on a hill overlooking the city (and also appears on the Russion 10 ruble note).

We also saw a very empty looking riverbed (but one that clearly was designed to be more full), but the only inhabitants there were some ducks.

Wandering down to the central street, we found it lined with plastic light-up trees, and were treated to classic American music playing over the loudspeakers all the way down the street. (We’ve noticed a strange preference for old, slow, sappy American music in many Russian establishments).

The trees were pretty nice looking, but we were less pleased with the snow on the ground. As we got towards the river Yenisey, at the southern end of downtown, we saw many patches of snow that were away from roads, but were, nonetheless, completely blackened. The air was also quite hazy, despite it being a clear day out. Not such a nice atmosphere for sight-seeing!

Our last stop before dinner was a statue of Lenin near a park, along with the unexpected find of a clock sculpture that seemed to be listing out changes in Russian governments.

After breakfast this morning, Anatoliy unexpectedly offered to give us a ride to the train station, as he was driving his wife to work before heading downtown himself. We agreed, and were shortly onto our final destination in Russia.

We were treated to a nice view down the Yenisey river, which borders Krasnoyarsk on the southern side. We’d seen it the afternoon before, as we were searching for the Museum of Regional History, and were amazed at not being able to see much but a grey outline of the hills on the other side, despite it not being that far distant.

And then we headed out into a much hillier landscape than we had been passing through previously. The trees also changed back from being predominantly birches, as they were in the swampy areas coming in to Krasnoyarsk, to a mix of birches and an evergreen that we think might be a spruce (but that we’re not really 100% sure about one way or another).

Curving around the hills gave us lots of opportunities to take pictures of the train itself, although the window reflections made it tricky (as did my habit of putting the lens-cap on the camera, so that Bridgit was constantly having to pop it off before she could take a picture out the window.

All in all, it was a pretty relaxing day (and, in fact, was necessary). It’s around 8:00 in the evening now, and Bridg has already headed to bed, and I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open. So, I’m going to call it a night, as our train arrives at 6am tomorrow morning (after changing another time zone). Yikes!


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