Information

Internet Cafe ( 50025 ul Krasnodaskaya 8 per hr Sberbank ( 56222 ul Lenina 14 S 9am-1pm & 2-5pm Mon-Frl) Cashes travellers cheques - or'road Sputnik ( 50522 sputnik anapa.kuban.ru ul Kalanlna 27 S 8am-8pm) Sells plane and train tickets. Pavement sellers hawk one-hour around-the-bay sea cruises (R200, daily in summer) and weekend four-hour cruises (R500) including the dolphinarium down the coast at Utrish. Roaming Greeks established several dozen trading settiements on the Black Sea coast and...

Lenin Memorabilia

In April 1897 the goateed wonder stayed in Krasnoyarsk at ul Markovskogo 27, now preserved and surveyed by a pensive, replinthed statue. A big, much prouder, Lenin statue stands opposite the popular city park. Permanently docked below an ugly brown-concrete exhibition centre is the boat SV Nikolay which transported Vladimir to exile in Shushenskoe. Other communist curiosities include a splendid mosaic (ul Vyborsky 9) on the outer wall of the station square post office and a bust of proto-KGB...

APXAHrEJlbCKAfl Oejiactb

The Solovetsky Islands are, for one reason or another, the most amazing part of many people's visit to northwest Russia. Few visitors have much time for anywhere else in Arkhangelsk Region except the historic capital city. But Arkhangelsk's excellent tourist information office has plenty of suggestions if you're tempted to explore further. Arkhangelsk - once Russia's only port - is a historic though not exactiy pretty city. It does have an insidious kind of beauty, however, especially on its...

Monastery Of The Deposition

The Monastery of the Deposition of the Holy Robe was founded in 1207 but the existing buildings date from the 16th to 19th centuries. The monastery is now pretty dilapidated. Still, its two pyramidal entrance turrets (1688) on the south gate are exquisite. Suzdal's tallest structure, a 72m monastery bell tower (1813-19), rises from the east wall. The central 16th-century Deposition Cathedral (Rizopolozhensky sobor) is reminiscent of the Moscow Kremlin's Archangel Cathedral with its three helmet...

Around Novosibirsk Akademgorodok Seyatel

Akademgorodok suburbs were elite Soviet I academic townships full of research in- I stitutes. Attached to most Siberian cities, I they attracted scientists by offering special I perks and relatively spacious apartments 3 in peaceful surroundings. Nearly 30km 3 south of central Novosibirsk, Siberia's big- Kj gest Akademgorodok nesdes in taiga close d to the beaches of the Ob Sea. The idea I is interesting, but the reality is frustrat- I ing for tourists. Although most institutes I have...

Getting Back To Nature

At least 30 of Russians own a small country home, or dacha (see p72). The dacha's most remarkable feature is its garden, which is usually bursting with flowering fruit trees and veggie plants. Families today still grow all manner of vegetables and fruits, which get sold at the market or canned for the winter. Throughout winter, city dwellers can enjoy strawberry kompot (canned, syrupy fruit) or pickled mushrooms, and fondly recall their time in the countryside. After playing in the dirt, the...

Souvenirs Soviet Memorabilia

There's a well-stocked souvenir market (Map pp230-1 S lOam-dusk Nevsky Prospekt), diagonally across the canal from the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood (p252) as well as stalls selling matryoshka dolls and the like outside other major tourist sights, such as the Hermitage. At each of these places, a certain amount of bartering is perfecdy acceptable. Tovar dlya Voennikh (Map pp230-1 Sadovaya ul 26 S 10am-7pm Mon-Sat (M) Gostiny Dvor) In a city with men in uniform on every street corner,...

Ychhckhh Tpakt

First built in 1910, the Usinsky Trakt is the main road between Minusinsk and Kyzyl in Tuva. It skirts the modest, historical township of Yermakovskoe and passes the little fruit-growing villages of Grigorevka and Chyornaya Recha before climbing into pretty birch-wood foothills. After a tea stop in Tanzybey (km560) the route climbs more steeply. A truly magnificent view of the crazy, rough-cut Ergaki Mountains knocks you breathless just before km598. Powerful views continue to km601 and resume...

Travel Your Tastebuds

Russia has an abundant supply of regional food specialities. Our favourites include kalmary (ca-lamari), kraby (crab) and grebeshki (scallops) - all standard items on Vladivostok menus. Manti are steamed, palm-sized dumplings, known as pozi or buuzy in Buryatiya and pyan-se (a peppery version) in the Russian Far East. Two or three make a good, greasy meal. Eaten most often as a snack food with beer, oblyoma is a dried, salty fish found in the Volga. Omul is a cousin of salmon and trout, endemic...

Environmental Issues

Russia may have ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2004, but the fact is that care for the environment has long been a low priority with the nation's rulers. The Soviet Union's enthusiasm for rapid industrialisation was matched only by its wilful ignorance of the often devastating environmental side effects - think of the draining of the Aral Sea. Mistakes were seldom admitted and, as the 1986 Chornobyl disaster in Ukraine most famously showed, people were not told when their lives were in danger....

Golden Ring

Ancient Rus grew up in the clutch of towns northeast of Moscow that is now known as the Golden Ring. The whitewashed walls of these once-fortified cities still stand, in many cases. The golden spires and onion domes of their monasteries still mark the horizon, evoking medieval Rus. Bells ring out from towering belfries robed holy men scurry through church doors historic tales recall mysterious, magical times. The Golden Ring - so called for its wealth of architectural and artistic riches - is...

Entertainment

Moscow can keep anyone entertained for months. The key to finding out what's on is the weekly magazine element and the comprehensive weekly entertainment section in Friday's Moscow Times. For a laugh, try the Exile. The classical performing arts remain an incredible bargain. Highly acclaimed professionals stage productions in a number of elegant theatres around the city. While the Bolshoi is Moscow's most famous theatre, other venues host productions of comparable quality, with tickets at a...

Kmha BypiI H Tothhckai Objiactb

Scenically magnificent, Buryatiya crouches on the Mongolian border like a cartographic crab squeezing Lake Baikal with its right pincer. Much of the Baikal region covered above also falls within the republic, including Severobaikalsk and the Tunka Valley. Though its English version is limited, Buryatiya now has a tourism website at www.baikaltravel.ru. The vast, sparsely populated Chita region stretches as far east as the wild Chara Mountains on the BAM railway, but in its more accessible...

Around Primrsky Territory

It's hard to explore or raft any of mountainous Primorsky Territory without the help of a travel agent. Prices vary wildly - check a few. Trips to Gaivoron to see the tigers, for example, start around US 50 or US 60 per person (with a group of four or more) and go up to about US 125 or US 150. Some of these places can be seen on day trips from Vladivostok. Locals enjoy making a day trip by ferry to the port of Slavyanka, 50km south towards the (off-limits) North Korean border. The small town is...

Finno Ugric peoples

In central and northern European Russia, several major groups of Finno-Ugric peoples are found, distant relatives of the Estonians, Hungarians and Finns. These groups include the Orthodox or Muslim Mordvins, a quarter of whom live in Mordovia (capital Saransk) the Udmurts or Votyaks, predominantly Orthodox, two-thirds of whom live in Udmurtia (capital Izhevsk) the Mari, with an animist shamanist religion, nearly half of whom live in Mary-El (capital Yoshkar-Ola) the Komi, who are Orthodox, most...

Ups E

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Russias Most Expensive Restaurant

Discretely hidden at the back of the Stroganov Palace is Russian Empire (Map pp230-1 571 2409 www.concordcatering.com Nevsky pr 17 mains R1500 (M) Nevsky Prospekt), a place which proclaims itself to be the 'most expensive restaurant in Russia'. Well, if you thrown caution and your platinum credit card to the wind in its outstanding wine cellar, then the bill will undoubtedly mount up, but otherwise its possible to dine here without busting your travel budget. The showily opulent d cor of the...

R

Rabies 749 racism 75, 703 radio 695, 715 radioactivity 105-6 Radziwill Palace Fortress 681 rafting Altai 520 Aya 528 Chukotka 634 llgumen Rapids532 Karelia 361 Katun River529-30 Kema River 622 Partizanskaya River622 Russia 698-9 Tyungur534 railway museums BAM Museum 623 Museum of History of the Far Eastern Railway 610 Museum of Railway Transport 261 Railway Locomotive Museum 514 Railway Museum (Abakan) 538 Railway Museum (St Petersburg) 268 rail travel, iff train travel Ramses Playground 272...

The Kremlin

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Gay Lesbian St Petersburg

There's a small but reasonably vibrant gay scene in St Petersburg, including Russia's only lesbian club Tri El (Map pp234-5 710 2016 5-ya Sovetskaya ill 45 admission R150 Wed, Fri & Sat S 6pm-midnight Mon & Tue, Wed 9pm-6am Wed, 7pm-midnight Thu, 10pm-6am Fri & Sat (M) Ploshchad Vosstaniya). Tri El allows only men in on Thursday and Fridays a mixed crowd is welcome at all other gay venues. The main club remains the sleazy but fun Greshniki (Sinners Map pp230-1 570 4291 www...

The Transsiberian Railway

Extending 9289km from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Pacific, the Trans-Siberian Railway and connecting routes are one of the most famous and potentially enjoyable of the world's great train journeys. Rolling out of Europe and into Asia, through eight time zones and over vast swaths of taiga, steppe and desert, the Trans-Siberian - the world's longest single-service railway -makes all other train rides seem like once around the block with Thomas the Tank Engine. Don't look for the Trans-Siberian...

Around Sakhalin Island

Locals like to say Japan held the island's southern half from 1905 to 1945 because it's the pretty part. Further north, trees are shorter, temperatures cooler - 'it's just tundra up there,' said a proud southerner. Most who go are oil folks (workers and managers). All over the island, wide pockets of nature - off the main rail or road links -endure relatively unexplored (particularly great for fishing and trekking), though sadly little of the glory is easily available to the independent...

Tunka Valley

When the clouds clear, sawtooth Sayan peaks rise spectacularly above the cute Buddhist villages of the wide, rural Tunka Valley, which starts about 30km west of Kultuk and continues all the way to the Mongolian border near Mondy. Smoke rising gendy from cottage chimneys adds to the wisps of romantic morning mist. Beyond justifiably popular Arshan, there's minimal tourist infrastructure and the grandly panoramic mountains are generally set too far back for easy access. Nonetheless, hiking maps...

Griboedova Canal to the Fontanka River

Check out the lavish Grand Hotel Europe (p278) built between 1873 and 1875, re done in Style Moderne in the 1910s and completely renovated in the early 1990s. Immediately north of the hotel is the quiet ploshchad Iskusstv (Arts Square) named after its surrounding museums and concert halls. A statue of Pushkin, erected in 1957, stands in the middle of the tree-lined square. Both the square and Mikhaylovskaya ul, which joins the square to Nevsky pr, were designed as a unit by Rossi in the 1820s...

Old Vladimir Exhibit

The red-brick water tower atop the old ramparts houses the Old Vladimir Exhibition ( 325 451 ul KozlovvaI admission R40 S 10am-4pmTue-Sun), a nostalgic collection of old photos, advertisements and maps, including a photo of a very distinguished couple taking a ride in Vladimir's first automobile in 1896. The highlight is the view from the top. The nearby St George Church (Georgievskaya ul 2a) houses the Vladimir Theatre of Choral Music, where performances are often held on summer weekends....

BUS

The bus station 443 635 international tickets 446 261 pi Kalinina is next to Yuzhny vok-zal. Buses depart from here to every corner of the region, including one or two per hour to Svedogorsk, eight daily to Chernyakhovsk and four daily to Smiltyne, Lithuania, along the Kurshkaya Kosa. One bus daily goes to Klaipeda R135 via Sovetsk, and there are two daily each to Kaunas R255 and Vilnius R360 . Daily buses go to Riga R360 , Tallinn R670 and Warsaw. There are two buses daily to Gdansk and...

Transport

45 Bus Station ABTOBOK3aa 44 C5 and meals can be ordered. It's on the main road to Zelenogradsk, 15km north along Sovetsky pr. Komnaty Otdykha 586 447 pi Kalinina s d R280 560 Considering it's inside the south train station, the rooms here are surprisingly quiet and clean, and the shared bathrooms are OK.

Deb

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Museums

The Fine Arts Museum 653 616 pi Lenina 2 admission R50 S 10am-5pm Wed-Mon is surprisingly good. It boasts an impressive selection of 14th- to 18th-century icons and a good selection of 18th-to-early-20th-century Russian painting, with work by nearly all the leading names - look for Sta-nislav Khlebovsky's Death of Prince Oran-skogo 1861 and IB Lampi's portrait of Catherine the Great 1790s . On the 2nd floor, don't overlook the 19th- and early-20th-century textiles and decorative art. The...

Around the Lake

Around Lake Teletskoe, half a dozen small, simple turbazy lie in complete, idyllic isolation accessible only by boat. Novosibirsk's Zhemchuzhina Altaya p511 organises bookings and access by weekly boat R800 return, Thursday from Iogach. Probably the best choice is Altyn-Tuu as it's the closest to the mouth of the dramatic Chulyshman Valley. A 4WD track from here gets you relatively close to the phallic erosional quirks known as Mushroom Rocks Kamennye Griby and you can hike onwards to see the...

Quick Eats

Evrika ul Amurskaya 67 S 8.30am-8pm From behind a historic fa ade, this plain but well- kept stolovaya doles out very cheap chebureki meat turnovers and pozi. Gril Master ul Pushkina 5 burgers R42-56 S 11am-11pm Chita's fast-food joint is better for stuffed chicken roulade R50 than for its microwaved burgers. Several dive bars fill basements on ul Amurskaya, two blocks north of the train station. Super-cheap beers R15 mean you'll meet many swaying, overfriendly local drunks. Expostroi ul...

Info

Grand Choral Synagogue, St Petersburg p262 the Bolsheviks came to power Russia had over 50,000 churches. Lenin adopted Karl Marx's view of religion as 'the opium of the people'. Atheism was vigorously promoted and Josef Stalin seemed to be trying to wipe out religion altogether until 1941, when he decided the war effort needed the patriotism that the church could stir up. Nikita Khrushchev renewed the attack in the 1950s, closing about 15,000 churches. Following the end of the Soviet Union,...

Kuragino the Vissarion Villages

The pleasant market town of Kuragino has an eccentric new church but litde else to see unless you're interested in Vissarion see the boxed text, p542 . If so, start by contacting the religion's Info Tsentr 23594 www.vis sarion.ru S 8.30am-noon amp 1-7pm , a R30 taxi ride from central Kuragino - ask for Motorskoe Obshchizhitye. Petropavlovka village, 83km east of Kuragino, is the most accessible Vissarion village with a particularly attractive wooden church. Considerably further east is the...

Activities

Russia offers ample opportunities for all the usual outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing and canoeing. There are also some uncommon ones too, such as sweating it out in a banya p71 or zooming up into the stratosphere in a jet plane pl63 . For information about outdoor activities, it's best to inquire locally. There will often be a group of enthusiasts more than happy to share their knowledge and even equipment with a visitor you might also be able to locate guides for trekking and other...

Moneron Island Octpob Mohepoh

In the Tatar Strait, 50km southwest of Sakhalin, is the largely uninhabited Moneron Island, surrounded by a marine park popular with divers and snorkellers. Unfortunately an increase of poaching has wreaked havoc on the underwater world, but it's still possible to go. Many birds - such as black-tailed gulls and long-billed guillemot - flock here. You must charter a boat that leaves from Nevelsk south of Kholmsk, also reached by bus 518 from Yuzhno . Inquire with travel agents p637 . Daily...

The Dacha

For the vast majority of urban Russians, home is within a drab, ugly housing complex of Soviet vintage. Although quite cosy and prettily decorated on the inside, these apartments are typically cramped and come with no attached garden. Instead, a large percentage of Russian families have a dacha, or small country house. Often little more than a bare-bones hut but sometimes quite luxurious , these retreats offer Russians refuge from city life and as such figure prominently in the national psyche....

Chuysky Trakt Whckhh Tpakt

South of Ust-Sema, the dramatic M52 road to Olgii in Mongolia is known as the Chuysky Trakt. It offers 400km of forested DOMES, STONES AND MOUSTACHES Kurgany are ancient domed burial mounds. Some are over 2500 years old, while others, like those at Shiba 6km west of Tuetka , date 'only' from the 6th century AD, though to the casual observer they're somewhat more impressive. Nonetheless, even these are still just barely discernable piles of stones. Much more interesting are kameny baba figures,...

Flora And Fauna

Altitude, climate ranges and inaccessibility have made the Caucasus extremely rich in flora and fauna. Three progressions of vegetation exist. By the coast and at lower altitudes temperate rainforest dominates with oak, beech and chestnut. Ancient groves of yew remain in places like the Teberdinsky Nature Reserve, along with gigantic 600-year-old beeches and a species of grass higher than a human. Conifer forests dominate with increasing altitude and above the tree line subalpine meadows are...

Irkutsk Hpkytck

3952 pop 591,000 S Moscow 5hr Historic if vaguely seedy Irkutsk, 1090km southeast of Krasnoyarsk, is the nearest big city to glorious Lake Baikal, though it's still 70km inland. With some fancifully rebuilt churches and areas of grand 19th-century architecture it's well worth at least a brief stop. If your Russian is poor, Irkutsk has plenty of Anglophone agencies eager to help, and now has some real if small hostels too. Founded in 1651 as a Cossack garrison to control the indigenous Buryats,...

Murmansk Mypmahck

Midway between Moscow and the North Pole, Murmansk is the largest city north of the Arctic Circle. It's also the most easily-visited northerly city in Russia, perfect for experiencing the midnight sun and polar night. Murmansk endured a pretty bleak 1990s when its population previously approaching 450,000 shrank drastically. But with a profitable fishing industry and a dose of cooperation from Scandinavian neighbours and other Western countries, Murmansk is now well on the way back up. Its many...

Puhok

Ab-mye 7va- yu-ti o MeH Ban poch-ta postcard at f-ka stamp mar- ka telephone fax te-le-fe telephone office te-le-ft-ni punkt myes-na-e wye-mya iwectHoe BpeMa Moscow time mas-Aw-ska-e wye-mya M0CK0BCK0e BpeMa Dates are given day-month-year, with the month usually in Roman numerals. Days of the week are often represented by numbers in timetables Monday is 1 . kag-rfoat-prav' yo-et-sya Kotfla OTnpaBaaeTca How long does it take to get to Volgograd skol'-ka wye-me-nim z i-naye-khat'da w gt...

Lake Teletskoe

Deep, delightful Lake Teletskoe is Altai's serene answer to Lake Baikal, a great place to simply relax and catch your breath. Ridge after forested ridge unfolds as you scutde along on one of the myriad litde pleasure boats that buzz out of Artybash village, the lake's charming tourist hub. Artybash amp logach Apibioaw 11 Koran 38843 pop 4500 S Moscow 3hr At Lake Teletskoe's westernmost nose, litde logach village is the main population centre and bus stop. Across the bridge, Artybash is a ribbon...

Lyme Disease

This is a tick-transmitted infection that may be acquired throughout the region. It usually begins with a spreading rash at the site of the tick bite, accompanied by fever, headache, extreme fatigue, aching joints and muscles and mild neck stiffness. If untreated, these symptoms usually resolve over several weeks, but over subsequent months disorders of the nervous system, heart and joints may develop. There is no vaccination against the disease. Treatment should be sought as soon as possible...

Travel Agencies

Baltma Tours 211 880 www.baltmatours.com pr Mira 49 S 9.30am-6.30pm Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm Sat This is the best travel agency in town and by far the best source of regional information. There's nothing it can't do-from arranging visa support and accommodation to any kind of tour. It offers boat cruises throughout the region and excursions with friendly, knowledgeable guides to every corner of Kaliningrad. Car rental with a driver is typically US 10 per hour, guides cost about US 40 a day extra. Pick...

M

Magadan 632-4, 633 magazines 76 Magnitogorsk 447 Mahileu 694 Maitreya Buddha Festival 706 Makarevo411 Makarev Monastery 411 Maksimikha 583 Malachite Hall 248 Maladzechna 718 Malaya Zemlya 461 Malevich, Kasimir97, 153, 161 Maloe More 580 Maly Drama Theatre 288 Maly Trostenets concentration camp 670 Maly Yaloman 532 Malye Karely 391 Mamaev Kurgan 423 Mammoth Museum 629 Mamontov, Savva 175,192 Manzherok530 maps 708, 719 Marble Palace 257 Mariinsky Theatre 84, 87, 173, 262, 287, J marshrutka travel...

Vissarion Messiah Of Siberia

Perceiving modern society to be on a destructive collision course with nature, the 30,000-strong Church of the Last Testament follows an ecologically based philosophy for clean living. It was formulated by Vissarion, the 'teacher', who many of his euphoric followers believe to be a second Jesus. He realised his divinity in 1991 and even dresses like a Hollywood Christ. But he was born Sergei Torop and is a former traffic cop from Krasnodar. Settled in remote, beautiful but harsh Siberian...

Sleeping

Hotel Zimnyaya 38248 www.valaam.twell.ru ul Tsentralnaya 4 s R1100-2250, d R1200-2500, tr R1500-2100 3 meals R750 On the island close to the monastery, the Zimnyaya occupies the 2nd floor of a 19th-century building. Rooms are bare but clean. Only a handful have private bathrooms. It can get full, so try to book ahead, even though this adds 25 to your room price. Hotel Seurakhuone Dom Ofitserov 22338 ul Karelskaya 22 s d R600 800, lyux R850 1100 Cen trally placed by the bridge near the dock....

Kostroma Koctpoma

This historic town sits 300km northeast of Moscow 95km north of Ivanovo , where its namesake river - the Kostroma - converges with the Volga. The delightful historic centre dates back to the 18th century, when the old wooden structures were demolished by fire. But the pride of Kostroma is the 14th-century Monastery of St Ipaty, which poses majestically on the right bank of the Kostroma River. Founded by Yury Dolgoruky in 1152, Kostroma suffered at the hands of nomadic raiders in 1238. The...

Olkhon Island Octpob Ojilxoh

Halfway up Lake Baikal's western shore and reached by a short ferry journey from Sa-khyurta aka MRS , the serenely beautiful Olkhon Island is a wonderful place from which to view the lake and relax during a tour of Siberia. Considered one of five global poles of shamanic energy by the Buryat people, the 72km-long island's main settiement is Khuzhir, which has seen something of a tourist boom over the last few years mainly thanks to the inspiring efforts of Nikita's Guest House, which also runs...

Minsk Metro

7 November Anniversary of the October Revolution often end up here. The eternal flame is accessible from the underground passageway. Further north is ploshcha Jakuba Kolasa, an other expansive square, this one softened by pleasant parkland and a sitting area near the elephantine monument to the Bela-rusian writer. Pr Francyska Skaryny continues northeast, becoming a bit of a student ghetto around metro Akademija Navuk various faculties of the state university are located nearby, as well as the...

Sleeping C

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Tuvan Food

Almost every rural household keeps a vat of khoitpak fermenting sour milk , which tastes like ginger beer with a sediment of finely chopped brie. Khoitpak is drunk as is or distilled into alcoholic araka. Roast dalgan a cereal, similar to Altai's bran-rich talkan can be added to your salted milky tea, or eaten with oreme sour cream . Local cheeses include stringy byshtag and rock-hard Kazakh-style kurut balls. Tuvans are said to have learnt from Chinggis Khaan a special way to kill their sheep...

Orientation

Kazan's city centre is flanked in the north by the Kazanka River and in the west by the Volga the train station is on the east bank of the Volga. About 500m east of the Volga shore, a canal bisects the town centre, separating the train station and surrounding gritty residential area from the principle commercial area. The main drag, ul Bau-mana, is just east of the canal, running from the kremlin in the northwest down to busy ul Pushkina. South of the canal, ul Pushkina changes name to ul...

Mongo In Russia

The Far East is Russia's 'wild east,' where hardened Cossacks in the early 17th century - and young Soviets and Gulag prisoners in the 20th - came to exploit the region's untapped natural resources - such as gold of the Kolyma, diamonds of Sakha and oil off Sakhalin. Russian explorers and plunderers even leapfrogged from the Pacific coast and Kamchatka to stake claims on parts of what is today the USA p42 . Much ado locally is made about Anton Chekhov's occasionally whoring trip through the Far...

Lenin Under Glass

Red Square is home to the world's most famous mummy, that of Vladimir Lenin. When he died of a massive stroke on 22 January 1924, aged 53 , a long line of mourners patiently gathered in winter's harshness for weeks to glimpse the body as it lay in state. Inspired by the spectacle, Stalin proposed that the father of Soviet communism should continue to serve the cause as a holy relic. So the decision was made to preserve Lenin's corpse for perpetuity, against the vehement protests of his widow,...

Rostovondon

Rostov-on-Don is an expansive town with the busde of a regional capital, but the wide leafy streets and scattered parks take away any notion of crowding. Passing through the city is the Don River, celebrated in Mikhail Sholokhov's novels of the Civil War - And Quiet Flows the Don and The Don Flows Home to the Sea. The Don is no longer quiet. In 1952 the Lenin Ship Canal linked the Volga and the Don near Volgograd, creating an immense network of canals, lakes and rivers. Oceangoing ships can now...

Lizard Queens And Stony Cults

Legend attributes the mineral wealth of the Urals to the workings of a mysterious queen, who lived within a copper-lined mountain. She was a black-haired beauty with magical powers, appearing at times endearing and at other times wrathful towards the mortals she encountered in the hills, doting on shepherd boys and dropping boulders on mining bosses. The queen often took the form of a lizard. The Lizard Queen is an enduring Russian myth about the Ural Mountains. Her story was passed down...

Bars

Tsinik Cynic Map pp236-7 312 8779 per Antonenko 4 S 11am-3am Sun-Thu, 11am-6am Fri amp Sat Sad-ovaya Sennaya Ploshchad Laid-back, no-frills cellar bar with a cool, student-slacker arty crowd nursing cheap beer and famously delicious grenki black bread fried in garlic . It also has the only men's toilets in the world with the walls entirely covered with Pushkin's poem Eugene Onegin. Red Lion Map pp236-7 5714526 pi Dekabristov 1 S24hr M Sadovaya Sennaya Ploshchad Occupying a huge basement space...

Khatyn XatblHb

The hamlet of Khatyn, 60km north of Minsk, was burned to the ground with all its inhabitants in a 1943 Nazi reprisal. The site is now a sobering memorial centred around a sculpture modelled on the only survivor, Yuzif Kaminsky. Also here the Graveyard of Villages, commemorating 185 other Belarusian villages annihilated by the Germans the Trees of Life actually concrete posts commemorating a further 433 villages that were destroyed but rebuilt and a Memory Wall listing the Nazi concentration...

Bratsk Epatck

3953 pop 258,000 S Moscow 5hr A stop in Bratsk neady breaks a Krasnoyarsk to Severobaikalsk trip into two overnight rides, but a day here is plenty. Its raison d'etre is a gigantic 1955 dam GES , which caused the drowning of the original historic town. New Bratsk is a confusing necklace of disconnected concrete 'subcities' with a high-rise Tsentralny area that is spirit-crushingly dull. It does, however, have two English-speaking tour agencies Taiga Tours 413951 taigat 3bratsk.net.ru 2ndfl,...

Oryol Opeji

Once the winter snows have melted, Oryol can seem like a magical place. Afternoon boaters float idly along the Oka River as the glow of sunlight illuminates the golden domes of Orthodox churches about town. Couples and friends stroll along the blossom-lined riverbanks, and fill the parks and plazas until late in the evening, when red-and-yellow trams are still rattling through town. In sharp contrast to nearby industrial cities, Oryol is a visibly wealthy place, with a distinctly European...

Sleeping Eating

There's further choice in Mayma, Aya and Souzga. Hotel Gorno Altaiavtodor 62256 4th fl, Kommunistichesky pr 182 dm R200-350, tw d 1600 2500 Clean, well-kept, three-bed dorms share decent new facilities. Pricier rooms have private bathrooms. Disconcertingly, you have to ring at the rear entry-phone buzzer and give your reservation details before being let in. Book ahead. Dormoststroy 62149 3rd fl, per Granitny 1 tw R1000 Five cramped but comfy new twin rooms with ketde and fridge share a...

Monchegorsk Mohwopck

A neat, fairly prosperous town set between several lakes, Monchegorsk makes a good base for exploring the centre and south of the Kola Peninsula - although the approach from the south is hardly encouraging as you pass through expanses of stunted or nonexistent vegetation, and then encounter the enormous Severonikel Kombinat factory whose past sulphur emissions are responsible for the ecological devastation. Nickel smelting here ceased in the late 1990s but it will be a while before the...

Aktash Aktaei

This nondescript little garrison-village commands a dramatic area of craggy valleys. If bus timetables leave you stuck here, stroll 3km towards Balyktuyul through the striking rocky canyon named Red Gate Krasnyye Vorota . Aktash could make a base for mountain adventures in the lovely Northern Chuysky Range with its challenging mountaineering on Mt Aktru 4044m and Mt Maashey 4177m or for trekking to the Shavlinsky Lakes for idyllic mountain views. However, for all of these you will need outside...

Local Hero

Like many other peoples in prehistory, Kabardians enjoyed their fires for warmth, cooking and defence. One day an evil giant called inizh Nezakve came and stole their fire. The Kabardians suffered for many years until a hero, born out of a large stone, rose up. He was named Sosruko and grew up to meet his destiny - a fight with Nezakve. Victorious, of course, he returned with fire for his people. address the early-morning assembly of stray dogs or lounging taxi drivers. Restaurant Sosruko 720...

Drinking

Redut 461 951 Litovsky Val 27 meals R100-300 Although there's lots of food on the menu, the main reason to come to this lively pub is the decent selection of beer brewed on the premises. Try the delicious unfil-tered brew. Simple beer-hall atmosphere prevails. V Teni Zamka Tsentralnaya pi, kiosk No 63 cappuccino R40-56 The city's best espresso, coffee cocktails and ice cream are served in this tiny but charming space, seating only 20, inside the apdy named kiosk village. Vostochniy Kafe 147 121...

Around Chelyabinsk Lakes District KpaM Cbep

Locals rave somewhat overenthusiastically about the pleasant lakes around Chelyabinsk and Miass, notably Ilmenskoe and Turgoyak. Crowded with turbazy holiday camps and sanatoriums, which serve as bases for travellers wishing to escape the city, the region is ideal for boating, swimming, skiing and otherwise exploring the Urals countryside. On the shores of Lake Turgoyak, known locally as the 'Blue Pearl', the resort Golden Beach 3513-560 093 www.goldenbeach.ru in Russian Miass rRI800-2300...

Eastern Baikal

Sparsely scattered beach villages of old-fashioned log cottages dot the pretty east Baikal coast. They are well described in a usefully practical Prebaikalsky booklet, available for free download from www .tahoebaikal.org. Further north is the dramatic Barguzin Valley, from which Chinggis Khaan's mother, Oilun-Ehe, is said to have originated. Access is across a forested pass from Ulan-Ude via tiny Baturino village with its elegantly renovated Sretenskaya Church. After around 2 ' i hours' drive,...

Buying Tickets For Performances Events

Teatralnye kassy theatre ticket offices or kiosks are found across all sizable cities, although it's not difficult to buy face-value tickets from the kassa ticket office at the venue itself, typically open for advance or same-day sales from early afternoon until the start ofthe evening show. In provincial Russia, tickets range from R30 to R300 and only the most popular shows tend to sell out completely, so there's usually hope for same-day seats. However, in Moscow and St Petersburg competition...

A Guide To Banya Etiquette Steve Kokker

At the same time every week, people head out to their favourite banya hot bath, a bit like a sauna to meet up with a regular crowd of people the Western equivalent would be your gym buddies . Many bring along a Thermos filled with tea that's mixed with jam, spices and heaps of sugar. A few bottles of beer and some dried fish also do nicely. After stripping down in the sex-segregated changing room, wishing 'Lyogkogo pronounced lyokh-ka-va para ' to their mates meaning something like 'May your...

CeBepHOEBponeHCKaa Poccua

In St Petersburg or Moscow it's oddly easy to be unaware of the great expanses of Russia that stretch north. Indeed, probably as many foreign travellers enter northern European Russia from neighbouring Finland and Norway as venture north from the 'Russian heartland'. But the gradually growing number of travellers here are discovering a land of constant surprises, profound beauty and even a spot of urban sophistication. This is a territory of midnight sun and polar night, frozen tundra, frozen...

Benois Building nd st floors

Rooms 66-77 Early 20th-century art, including 66 father of modern Russian art Mikhail Vrubel's Russian Hero and Venice 67 Mikhail Nesterov's religious paintings of the history of the Orthodox Church and the highly stylised works of Nikolai Roerich also in 69 70 and 71 portraits by Valentin Serov, sculptures by Paolo Trubetskoy 72 Impressionists Konstantin Korovin and Igor Grabar 73 Boris Kustodiev'ssmug Merchant's Wife. 77 Natan Altman Rooms 78-79 Art Between the Revolutions 1905-1917 ,...

Around Lubyanskaya Ploshchad

For several decades the broad square at the top of Teatralny proezd was a chilling symbol of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Be-zopasnosti Committee for State Security , more commonly known as the KGB. In the 1930s, the Lubyanka Prison Map ppl28-9 was the feared destination of thousands of innocent victims of Stalin's purges, but today the grey building is the headquarters of the KGB's successor, the FSB Federal Security Service . The building is not open to the public. Behind Lubyanka is the...

BUDGET

Hotel Omskgrazhdanstroy 251 247 Gospitalnaya ul 19 dm s tw R210 350 660 Remarkably good value, this litde-known hotel is the wrong side of the busy ul Frunze intersection, but still walking distance from the centre via ul Gusarova. Rooms are not sexy but are clean, large and all have private bathrooms -even the dormitories. Hotel Omsk 310 721 fax 315 222 ul Irtyshskaya Naberezhnaya 30 dm R350, s R650-1200, tw R1200-1600 Halfway between the train station and centre,

Saratov Capatob

Although it lacks major tourist attractions, Saratov is a pleasant city with a thriving commercial centre and an attractive green river embankment. Founded in 1590, Saratov was initially a fortress forming a line of defence for the trade route along the Volga. A large community of ethnic Germans, mostiy farmers, settied along the Volga around Saratov in the 18th and 19th centuries and even got their own autonomous republic within Russia in 1924. However, this was abolished during WWII when...

Pripyatsky National Park

The 82,460 hectares covered by this national park 75644, 75173 vul Leninskaja 127, Turau offer a unique chance to explore a vast, relatively untouched swath of marshes, swampland and floodplains. As unattractive as 'swamp' might sound, the landscape here is striking, even haunting, and provides a welcome 694 ELSEWHERE IN BELARUS Pripyatsky National Park www.lijrielypl.dnet.cijm

BR

US 55 per day, and cars can often be hired with drivers for an extra fee. The train station is an impressive, super-modern construction with full services on all its four floors, including left luggage in the basement. Times in red on station timetables are for weekends and holidays only those in black are daily. Major domestic and international destinations from Minsk's main train station prices are for kupeyny, 2nd-class, travel

Outlying Islands

The Solovetsky Islands are home to 35 mysterious stone labyrinths from the 3rd to 1st millennia BC and 13 of them are on little Bolshoy Zayatsky Island off the southwest coast of Solovetsky Island. Anzer Island, to the northeast, has two of the larger minor monasteries, and many visitors consider it to have a specially spiritual aura. A guide is a big help to understanding many of the islands' sights. The Solovetsky Museum-Reserve's Excursions Bureau 321 scg solovky.ru Peterburgskaya Gostinitsa...

TOURS

Excursions from Sortavala include a one-hour trip each way plus a two-hour guided tour of parts of the main monastery complex plus other places of interest such as the monastery's fish farm and system of canals and wells. Trips cost around R900 1400 with a total of three five hours on the island, and are sometimes available in English. A leading agency on the main street in Sortavala is Ladoga Tours 23184 www.ladoga tours.ru ul Karelskaya 27 . Agencies in Petrozavodsk p356 will also organise...

Kizhi

Between the two churches stands an 1862 belltower. These three buildings constitute the World Heritage-listed Kizhsky pogost Kizhi Enclosure . In summer, music students regularly play the bells of the Chapel of the Archangel Michael and leave a hat for your donations outside -an unusual form of busking The litde Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus, constructed in the 14th century at Murom monastery, may be the oldest wooden building in Russia. Most visitors content themselves...

Kideksha

The 1152 Church of SS Boris amp Gleb Borisogleb skaya tserkov , on the Nerl River in this quiet village 4km east of Suzdal, is the oldest in the district. It was built for Yury Dolgoruky, who had a small wooden palace here. The palace has disappeared the church has been rebuilt many times. But a few fragments of 12th-century frescoes remain, including two figures on horseback. They probably represent Vladimir's sons, Boris and Gleb, who were the first Russian saints. The rolling hills and...

Jewish Belarus

Around the corner from Hotel Jubileynaja in Minsk, on the corner ofvulsZaslavskaja and Melnikajte is the haunting Jewish Ghetto Monument Map p670 , which marks the site of a pit where on 2 March 1942 - in one day - 5000 Jews were shot and buried. It depicts bronze figures, people of all ages, descending a staircase to face certain death. There were just under one million Jews in Belarus before WWII, making up from one-third to three-quarters of the population of Minsk, Brest, Hrodna, Vitsebsk,...