A Day in Yekaterineburg Proper

Saturday, March 12, 2011

We started our day by packing up the room, getting the front desk to call a taxi so that we didn’t have to navigate the mile long hike back to the tram station. First goal: The puppet theater. We picked up our tickets with minimal language difficulties, mainly due to Bridgit’s forethought in writing down the name of the puppet show we wanted in Russian. Tickets purchased, and squirreled away for safe keeping, we had a couple of hours to kill, so we walked over to the post office to send some postcards. Along the way, we found this fine looking couple outside a café:

Postcards mailed, we hiked back to the puppet theater. Now, a word about cloakrooms. Our experience so far in Russia is that whenever we’ve gone out anywhere, the first thing they do after checking our tickets is direct us to the cloakroom to store our outerwear (coats, hats, and the like). This is usually wonderfully convenient, as Russian buildings are heated well in excess of the outside temperature. However, this was the first time that we’d been to a cloakroom carrying our luggage (we didn’t want to leave it at the hotel, because it was such a distance outside of town). When we went to check our coats, a bit of an argument ensued between several of the cloakroom attendants about whether it was ok for us to leave our luggage right over the inside edge of the counter. It was a bit worrisome to us, as the argument seemed to be going against us, but eventually they relented, as long as we were the ones who lifted the bags back over the counter when we left.

Bulky stuff dealt with, we headed back upstairs, where the waiting area was flooded with at least one school group Russian youngsters (5 or 6 years old, it looked like), working on little sand paintings, or bombing around the lobby. We got a couple of pictures of puppets from previous performances, but sadly no pictures were allowed in the puppet show itself.

Us, taking a break in the lobby.

You can see a few pictures of what the puppet show looked like on their website. The story was, for the most part, the Wizard of Oz. Notable differences from the film included a scene with a troll who wanted to eat Dorothy, Toto talking once they got to Oz, and a group of mice nobility that were instrumental in spraying the Wicked Witch at the climax of the puppet show. All in all, though, an excellent performance, although I suspect we lost some of the intricacies due to not understanding a single word of dialog.

With the show complete, we recovered our bags from the cloakroom, and headed back in the direction of the post office in search of the QWERTY monument, a giant keyboard made out of stones that was supposed to be on the river bank. On our way, we stopped at the Wallen Pub for dinner and drinks, only to find that the only beer they had, either on tap or in bottles was Heineken (sorely disappointing us both). They did make some tasty pasta dishes, though.

We continued our search for the QWERTY monument, and found instead several other pieces of sculpture whose purposes we didn’t know.

Before we were able to find the QWERTY monument, I felt that time was running short (we still had to buy supplies before getting on the train, and we were a ways from the train station, and on foot), so we turned our backs to the river and started hiking. We saw a couple of cool looking churches on the way

And also the memorial to the last of the Romanov Tsars

At just about the time that I felt that my shoulders were about the fall off from my messenger bag, we arrived at the train station. We were a few hours early (maybe we could have found the QWERTY monument, but we only arrived just before dark). The train eventually arrived, and we found ourselves in a cabin much like our last train, but decorated in a nice green.

On the table you can see our provisions: 1.5 liters of Bolshaiya Kroozhka (“Big Mug”) beer, a chocolate bar, strawberry jam, a loaf of bread, black tea, oatmeal flakes, and two containers of instance mashed potatoes (which we purchased under the impression that they were instant noodles). Well stocked for a day and a half on the train (and we can augment it further on the platforms where we stop).


Alicia said...

That puppet plot sounds closer to the actual book of Wizard of Oz...

Also, Rich wants you guys to know that he thinks you're crazy and has declared that he is not going to eat anything instant on our future honeymoon and that if I take him to any place covered in ice, we're divorcing.

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