Krasnoyarsk was the city where I took nearly all my pictures without turning the camera 90′ (which I normally do to cut off the unwanted), I mean you really need the entire width of your lens to capture the dimensions of this city. I was impressed! To look left and see a mountain at one end of the street while looking on the right will result in… yet another distant mountain! And the river is so wide and mighty, the Yenisey. I remember learning the geography of Russia at school and repeating all those beautiful river names, Yenisey, Lena, Amur… and imagining them. They seemed so far and so legendary and utterly unattainable!
Omsk – Krasnoyarsk
distance: plus 1389 km (!)
total distance from St Petersburg covered so far: 5321 km
local time: Moscow time + 4 hours
train: train Moscow – Chita (provided you have nice neighbours the longest train run of all we took is just fine); takes you to Krasnoyarsk from Omsk in 21 hours 12 minutes
After quite a ‘promising’ start on the train with a completely drunk ex-military as our upper-bench neighbour being neutralized by a very sympathetic babushka who accepted & cared for him as – sadly – many Russian women do, the longest train run in our journey proceeded as per usual. We saw Novosibirsk railway station in the night and there I told myself that from that moment I was travelling on the ‘unknown’ territory as Novosibirsk was the farthest and deepest into the country I had ever been. All in all we had a good sleep and a nice train-style breakfast (if I remember it right :).
We then walked fast quite a bit under rain and sun rapidly changing each other, to get to our hostel (the best hostel I’ve ever been to both in Russia and in Europe! And haha, it’s called Hovel Hostel) situated somewhere far off on the never-ending Lenin Street (what a surprise!). It was already midday and I was eager to get to the natural park Stolby just off the city that very day.
After gobbling down 2 ice-creams each and asking about everyone where the bus to the park leaves from, we got to the glamour Fun-park Bobrovy Log park instead of the hard-core entrance where you have to climb the hills yourself. I should say taking into consideration our a bit dizzy state after such a long train journey. We had to wait for the cable way to open and meanwhile had our lunch and a relaxed sun bath admiring the Switzerland / Bulgaria (?) like landscape all around us. And no, it didn’t feel like real winter 🙂
Gosh, I wanted to pat and caress those green blankets and deep green firs!
That was the first cable way I’ve ever been on, same for my friend who was born in the mountains. And what effect do the mountain have on someone born in the flat-flat St Petersburg threatened by floods? They make us just happy! You should have heard me on that cable way 🙂 The huge Krasnoyarsk was like a mirage from up there:
The amount of photos I took during that day were surpassed only by my solitary walk in Vladivostok later in the journey. But these views, oh dear, they were just breath-taking! I felt a bit like on that crazy morning when I climbed the hill in Provence, looking around from the top and feeling the power of the moment:
Don’t you want to just run your hand over those hills, eh? And follow that road (don’t think it was glamour all the way, the real road started after) to see the wondrous rock formations called Stolby (Pillars).
Oh, nature! (mosquitoes included)
I’ve made all this trip to see this…
… and many more things of course. But truly, I was impressed! And I loved the smell of the pine trees under the sun… We couldn’t make it even to the nearest Stolby rocks as they were pretty far and we had to ‘catch’ our cable way down (plus the bus to get to the city). But we did make it to the observation points including this very last one (spot several Stolby in the background, called Babushka and Dedushka i Vnuchka (Grandpa and Granddaughter):
Riding back to the city across the grand Yenisey river with the setting sun was just right to finish off the day. We also had a tasty melon and some weird Indian snacks from an even crazier Trans-Siberian traveller from India (a girl all alone!). That night in our hostel I slept like a log (at first it felt as if I was still on a train but then I fell asleep) with the rain and Lenin sculpture in our courtyard (he worked in the nearby wooden house as we found out).
Nest morning we had a long walk in the city itself cause we didn’t see much of Krasnoyarsk the day before. Founded in 1628, Krasnoyarsk (Krasny Yar meaning Red Ravine, after the Khakas Kyzyl Char, red steep-riverbank) is really big, one of the country’s biggest cities, and you can feel that (curiously it’s smaller than Omsk!). It’s region is enormous too (the largest in Russia) and rich in natural resources and wonderful landscapes. And the Yenisey river is grand, I’ve told you that already. We could only cover some tiny bit of the city where we saw marmots in the park (which is on an island), we saw some street art on the late Soviet buildings.
We also saw some Stalinist-era monsters
… and all that under rain and then a burning sun. We got lured inside this cozy wooden paradise hidden in the concrete jungles of Krasnoyarsk (after all the city got heavily rebuilt in the Soviet times and is still growing). This little corner of the old Krasnoyarsk turned out to be one of the cutest museums I’ve ever been to, the house of the Russian painter Vasily Surikov.
The courtyard recreates a typical household with barns and haystacks. The house is manned by lovely ladies (unlike those notoriously unwelcoming babushkas working in some of the St Petersburg museums).
Very cozy with all those woven rugs (called dorozhka in Russian – a small road, a path) and samovar and flower pots on the windows. And the Russian stove of course. And Surikov’s paintings which I will now pay more attention to next time I visit the Russian Museum.
Natural Park Stolby – amazing! stunningly beautiful and worth the climb if you can make it
Surikov’s museum to have a glimpse of the bygone life in Siberia
walk along Yenisey river to sense the dimensions (not only Moscow can boast of these!)
hunting for old houses and churches in the center, from log houses through Art Nouveau to late Soviet era
just wandering in the city and enjoying something different from the flat-flat St Petersburg if you know what I mean
the spectacular Krasnoyarsk Hydroelectric Power Station should be quite a sight too but we didn’t get there
Krasnoyarsk in a few words: Definitely worth the visit both for the out-of-this-world natural park Stolby and the city itself. One of those places in Russia where you feel as if you’re somewhere else.
And now that I’ve squeezed in so many photos (and left out so many of them, ah) and exclamation marks, I can turn to sharing with you my impressions of the next stop: Irkutsk.