I am boarding the train tomorrow (Monday) morning for Moscow. I am sending this email a day early, since the wireless service in my room has stopped working. I am using the Business Center here at the Novotel in Yekaterinburg.
Finally, this area is best described as “European” Russia, more densely populated than Siberia, for sure. The Ural Mountains signify the beginning of Europe in many people’s minds. We previously crossed the famous Volga River at the rather scenic city of Nizhny Novgorod. The route also takes us past the ancient city of Vladimir, with golden domes and spires.
The Perm Oblast is home to the foothills of the Ural Mountains, which stretch from Kazakhstan to the Arctic Kara Sea. These mountains were famous for their mineral treasures. Many call this section of the Urals “particularly inconspicuous”.
Up to now, some of the terrain has been bleak, to say the least. Getting close to Moscow means many choices on what to see and do. Nizny has about 1.3 million people, and where Rus ends and Russia begins. Nizny is about as mellow and laid back a city as can be found in Russia. We also pass by several ancient towns along the way. We also pass by some heavily polluted areas.
Most of the terrain is farmland and taiga. Kotelnich is a famous dinosaur playground with numerous Permian period giant lizard fossils. Yar is a town in the Udmurt Republic, home to the Udmurts, one of four major groups of Finno-Ugric people. The countryside is more picturesque, with painted log cabins.
Nearing the end of the real Siberian Railway, approaching the huge metropolis of Moscow, I have mixed feelings. The quiet and desolation of Siberia will soon give way to a big, busy, and noisy city. Each have their merits. I can decide which one I like better, after a few days in Moscow. I am looking forward to seeing the Kremlin, the Bolshoi, and Red Square.
Don’t you just love names like Bolshoi, Kremlin, Nizny, Perm, and Udmurt?