On the Road - Stockholm to Beijing travel blog


Surprising I slept well, perhaps thanks to my industrial earplugs and face mask. It was hot though, with no reprieve during the night, if you can call it night as it didnt get dark. I am happy to report though that the Russians are very quiet and reserved, rather than what I was expecting - loud, curious and trying to ply you with 'wodka' to all hours. It was 10.30am local time, but the entire rail network works on Moscow time. During this trip i will travel through 5 time zones (totalling +5 hours Moscow) whilst remaining in Moscow time. Then there is the daylight hours to contend with and my body clock. This all equals in me having no idea what was going on resorting to just doing things when my body prompted me. That involved eating about 8 times a day, and sleeping two or three times! Time became sureal, as though we were traveling in a time capsule.By late night we are were getting bored so I tried to communicat with the Russians. I learnt some new words:

Itzvaneetcha - Excuse me

Kholodne - Cols (very important when asking for a drink as they dont normally come cold.

Kak Vas Zavoot - what is your name

CKAN - my name in Cyryllic

the numbers and more. It was great fun!

The scenery is mostly cut off by the pines and birch acting as a wind break, and most stops (about every 3-4 hours) have ben uneventful, although we are always pleased to get off and walk around a bit.

Our stop to note today was Perm. Perm is the most Eastern city of Europe, and therefore its province is often referred to as Eurasia. Having a population of 1.2 million, Perm' is the 6th largest city in Russia and the second largest in the Urals. The city was formerly called Molotov, after the minister of foreign affairs during Joseph Stalin's ruling. Perm covers a great area in the very heart of the Ural Mountains.

In spite of being a relatively young city, Perm played an important role in the history of Russia. Not the least part of this role was played by Ermak, who was from the Perm Province. Ermak, by order of the Stroganov family, gathered an army here and led it through the Urals, later to succesfully conquer Siberia for Russia.

During Soviet times, Perm was a proper fortress because of the huge military industry in its region. All artillery and rocket vehicles, as well as (intercontinental) ballistic rocket launching systems, engines for MiG jetfighters and canons of all ranges were (and in less proportions still are) produced in Perm. The Soviets did an excellent job in hiding Perm and keeping it secret. Most people from outside the Urals simply did not know of the existence of the - at that time - 1 million citizens of Perm. Until the end of the cold war, Perm did not appear on certain Soviet-made maps, nor did the roads towards it.

Yup - I was underwhelmed as well!



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