Mag­nif­i­cent Eka­ter­in­burg Rus­sia

On the bor­der be­tween Asia and Europe.

Alive - - Contents - by D.B.N. Murthy

Dur­ing my so­journ in Rus­sia, the last city to visit was Eka­ter­in­burg, also spelt as Yekaterinburg, in the far east of Moscow a dis­tance of 1667 km away in west-cen­tral Rus­sia. It was a long 27.5-hour train jour­ney from Moscow to ar­rive at this city in the af­ter­noon. It was easy to lo­cate the taxi stand and I ne­go­ti­ated the price of the ride to my ho­tel as the taxi had no me­ter. It was a wel­come relief to go into my room and re­lax af­ter the train jour­ney. I went out briefly to the nearby pedes­trian plaza which was lined up with shops, restau­rants, money ex­change of­fice and small of­fices. Benches were pro­vided for peo­ple to sit and re­lax, free of traf­fic to en­joy the scene and the good weather that even­ing. I re­turned to the ho­tel room for a much-needed rest and sleep af­ter hav­ing some snacks at a restau­rant nearby.

The city, founded in 1732, was once known as Sverdlovsk but re­turned to its orig­i­nal name of Yekaterinburg, which was the name of the con­sort Cather­ine, wife of Peter I the Great. It is the ad­min­is­tra­tive cen­tre of Sverdlovsk oblast (re­gion) with a pop­u­la­tion of 14 lakh, the fourth big­gest city in Rus­sia. Dur­ing the Rus­sian revo­lu­tion of Oc­to­ber 1917, it was the scene of the ex­e­cu­tion of the last tsar and his fam­ily. I was in­ter­ested in vis­it­ing the bor­der be­tween Asia and Europe for which the only op­tion was to hire a taxi for the jour­ney and back. Af­ter a good break­fast, I rode the taxi that was wait­ing for me. The drive was about 30 min­utes when the driver stopped the car a lit­tle dis­tance from the me­mo­rial and I had to walk up to the site. It had a steel ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign put up on a plat­form, a sim­ple and an el­e­gant struc­ture. “Europe – Asia” is writ­ten on a gran­ite block in Rus­sian. I took pic­tures of the me­mo­rial as well as the sur­round­ings. The high­way to the Siberian re­gion stretches far into the

dis­tance. There are forests around the place. A small kiosk dis­played sou­venirs. Hardly a few vis­i­tors were there on a day which was sunny and warm.

A sprawl­ing city

I en­joyed the re­turn jour­ney look­ing at the sprawl­ing city which is a ma­jor in­dus­trial, univer­sity and re­search cen­tre. A small river Iset flows through the city adding charm to the sur­round­ings. It has a huge mall

A small river Iset flows through the city adding charm to the sur­round­ings. It has a huge mall dis­play­ing goods from all over the world, with fa­mous brands vy­ing with one an­other for at­ten­tion. The city has sev­eral mon­u­ments for their army gen­er­als and prom­i­nent personalities. I vis­ited an an­cient cathe­dral well dec­o­rated in­side with paint­ings and chan­de­liers. There were very few vis­i­tors at the time I was in­side. I had snacks at a fast food joint pa­tro­n­ised by youth.

dis­play­ing goods from all over the world, with fa­mous brands vy­ing with one an­other for at­ten­tion. The city has sev­eral mon­u­ments for their army gen­er­als and prom­i­nent personalities. I vis­ited an an­cient cathe­dral well dec­o­rated in­side with paint­ings and chan­de­liers. There were very few vis­i­tors at the time I was in­side. I had snacks at a fast food joint pa­tro­n­ised by youth. The city has a rail­way sta­tion which has a num­ber of lines, in­clud­ing the Trans-Siberian rail­road pass­ing through.

It is strange that all the clocks at the rail­way sta­tion show Moscow time rather than the lo­cal time which is two hours ahead of Moscow time. My walk brought me to the river Iset which flowed placidly. In the dis­tance I could see an ar­ti­fi­cial wa­ter­fall and nearby a wa­ter-foun­tain right on the river, a lovely at­trac­tion in­deed. Af­ter a snack at a fast food joint, I be­gan my re­turn jour­ney en­joy­ing the sights and sounds of a bustling city. Ev­ery­thing was clean and traf­fic mod­er­ate. I spent a few min­utes at the pedes­trian plaza for rest. There was con­fu­sion as to the di­rec­tion to my ho­tel un­til a friendly lo­cal, with good English, helped me to reach the ho­tel for a wel­learned rest. There was thun­der and light­ning that night with lit­tle rain though. Though there was light out on the streets the ho­tel had emer­gency backup power. The two-day stay at the city gave me some idea of the life of the peo­ple away from the main cities like Moscow and St Peters­burg. The re­turn jour­ney to Moscow was un­event­ful.

Tips:

Eka­ter­in­burg is ac­ces­si­ble by air, rail and road. There are di­rect trains to Moscow Best time to visit is dur­ing sum­mer months May to Septem­ber

Lo­cal trans­port: bus and tram. Metro has just one line. Taxis are avail­able but bet­ter to ne­go­ti­ate through a ho­tel

Mod­est to starred ho­tels are there which could be booked on line

Cafes and restau­rants serve mostly Rus­sian food. Fast food joints are dot­ted across the city

There are no con­ducted tours.

An­cient cathe­dral at Yekaterinburg.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.