Church on the blood

Three days is a good time to spend in (Y)Ekaterinburg – the fourth largest city of Russia. It gives you enough time to see the city using the ‘red line route’, have some food in a few different places and also spend time outside the city visiting one or two of the main sights. The Romanovs (last tsar family in exile before socialism kicked in) and their death in 1918 play a big role in this city. It’s a very industrial city, mainly because a lot of the ‘European’ industry was moved here during WW II. Apparently Yekaterinburg – also the home city of president Boris Yeltsin – was off-limits for any foreigner until the ’90s.

Red Line Route

Left bottom: Red line

The red line route is a great way to explore the city. Very simple and practical concept: paint a red line on the pavements of your city and get visitors to follow it and be taken past the main sites of the city. It saves you looking at the map and deciphering the Russian street names. More cities should do this. Especially when it’s cold!

The Yekaterinburg  route takes you on a 3 hour walking tour that covers beautiful churches, e.g. the main site of the city: Church on the blood (built on the site of the Ipatiev House, where the Romanovs were murdered), many statues and impressive Russian buildings. A massive keyboard on the side of the river was a modern end to the tour. Not sure if it symbolises anything, but it’s pretty cool!

Some guy decided to show off for his little lady

The ‘put-a-lock-on-a-bridge-if-you-love-eachother’ tradition also seen in other cities around the world seems quite widespread here. The locks ranged from basic locks, heart-shaped ones, locks dressed up as a bride to a giant lock with a width of about 70cm. Thinking back to our observation in St Petersburg, the boys here probably try to lock in their girls asap!

Google Maps and the BestTravel app (offline maps) are helpful tools to find your way around a city. Google Maps is great, but you need to pre-load if you’re not on data.  BestTravel has offline maps and a list of points of interest. This last part got us into an interesting situation. It pointed out there was a ‘castle’ at the end of the tramlines. We hadn’t seen this castle in any of the guides, but it seemed like something interesting to see. So we followed the map and got the entrance of a park and started following the GPS dot… it all seemed a bit odd until we got to a map showing us that this ‘castle’ was actually a scary (or fairy) castle in the theme-park we had just entered! We had a look around in the park anyway.  

Theme park statue

It’s interesting to see how many statues of athletes and different sportsmen are placed everywhere. Go to a theme park in the western world and you’ll see cartoon characters or funny friendly pictures. Not here. Lucia commented this is good as people (incl. children) need to be reminded that there’s more to life than fun, we also need to dedicate ourselves and work hard :-). The theme park was basically deserted, but the typical joyous music was still being played loudly through the outside speakers and several announcements were being made to a non-existent audience. Somehow the clown in Stephen King’s book ‘it’ came to mind (Mark’s childhood worst nightmare), so after a 15 min walk we decided to leave after having a Balticka 7 in one of the park’s restaurants.

In Yekaterinburg there are less restaurants than in St Petersburg and they seem more focussed on the bistro scene. Good food though for a decent price. The best value deal you will find during lunch hours in the business area of the city. Here restaurants will have ‘biznes’ lunches, which in our case consisted of a 3 course lunch (salad, soup and a kind of chicken risotto or 2 big slices of pizza) plus dessert and juice/coffee/tea. All this for 190 rubbles (approx 5 euros). Not bad I think! Obviously the food wasn’t outstanding, but good enough as a reward during or after your city-tour.

Europe AsiaThere are quite a few options if you’d like to go outside of town for a day. One of them is to visit the border between Europe and Asia. Actually, there are two ‘borders’, one is about 17km west of Yekaterinburg and is described as the more accessible monument with shops and restaurants. The other is the initial border where according to the Lonely Planet Ferdinand II had a glass of wine on each of the sides, because….well because he could I guess. The point of visiting is really to concept of standing on the border of two continents and take a photo… nothing else really to do there!

Europa Asia border - old monument

In case you’re thinking of visiting the below might come in handy (otherwise just skip it). The logistics to the ‘original’ border are a bit more complicated as the monument symbolising this border stands on its own with nothing around. Lonely Planet and other guidebooks stated it’s close to the town of Pervouralsk, but as it’s really about 4km before this Pervouralsk there’s really no use of taking a train there. Take bus 150 from the Northern bus terminal, buy a ticket at the counter first (87 rubbles one-way), then ask the driver to drop you off at the monument. If you want to keep track, the old monument on Google Maps is here. The drop-off basically means standing next to the motorway at a small obelisk next to a path leading into a forest. Follow the path and there’s your monument. Guess what you’ll find next to the monument…love-locks! Apparently it’s a popular place for taking wedding pics. Now the tricky parts starts, getting back or onwards to Pervouralsk. There is no bus-stop, no taxis, no train… just a small road (not leading back to Yekaterinburg and a motorway. You basically need to flag down a bus. Or hitchhike. Not all bus-drivers will stop, but just be persistent, in our case the third bus stopped (after 30 min) and took us back to Yekaterinburg where we decided to warm up in our hostel.

Indie Hostel is a lovely 3-room apartment on the first floor of an otherwise non-remarkable building and is run by very friendly and helpful Polina. After graduating in philosophy, 8 months ago she ‘grew the cojones’ to start a hostel and in our opinion has set up a very homely, clean and practical place close to the centre of Yekaterinburg. You can stay here in a twin room or dorm (4 bunk beds) for a very decent price. Polina will help you with suggestions for sights, local happenings or just how to get somewhere. The best part is the living room with a big dining table, various flyers, a chalkboard with suggestions for the upcoming 3 days and a nice comfy sofa to do your surfing/booking/emailing. Also good for meeting other travellers (Elli, enjoy your last weeks and thanks for the great tips! Carlo, see you in Mongolia, we’ll buy better vodka next time). You’ll find very positive reviews (incl ours) on Indie hostel on Tripadvisor.

More pics of Yekaterinburg and surroundings you’ll find here.

 A 48 hour train ride further East will bring us to Irkutsk and the deepest lake in the world Lake Baikal (apparently ‘soon’ to be the fifth ocean in the world after it splits Asia).


Tri dni su tak akurat vidiet a zazit (Y)Ekaterinburg – stvrte najvacsie ruske mesto. Tri dni stacia na absolvovanie ‘cerveneho okruhu’, nejake to dobre jedlo a pitie a i zo dva vylety mimo mesto k jednej z mnohych okolitych atrakcii. Jednou z najvacsich historickych udalosti mesta je zavrazdenie Romanovcov – poslednej carskej rodiny – bolsevikmi v roku 1918. Cele mesto ma industrialny raz hlavne z dovodu, ze vela priemyslu sa sem prestahovalo z europskej casti krajiny pocas druhej svetovej vojny. Yekaterinburg je zaroven domovom byvaleho prezidenta Borisa Jecina.

Spominany cerveny okruh je skvelym sposobom ako spoznat mesto. Jednoduchy a prakticky koncept: cervena lajna na chodnikoch mesta, ktora vas prevedie vsetkymi pametihodnostami mesta a je to. Riesenie, ktore nas usetrilo lustenia azbuky a neustaleho hladania v mape. Viacere mesta by to tak mali robit, hlavne ked je vonku kosa! Cely okruh mestom trva asi tak 3 hodiny s malymi zastaveniami a vezme navstevnikoch popri Kostole na krvi (postavenom na mieste vrazdy Romanovcov), mnohych dalsich kostolikoch, majestatnych sochach budovatelov a historickych budovach. My sme zakoncili cestu pri obrovskej klavesnici na brehu rieky, ktora prechadza mestom – zaujimavy moderny ‘touch’.

Tradicia mileneckych zamkov zavesenych na mostoch, ktora nie je neznama i v europskych mestach, nabera v Yekaterinburgu priam sutaznych rozmerov. Nielenze zamky najdete na nejednom moste, ale ocividny je zapas on ten naj prejav lasky – najvacsi, najfarebnejsi, najvtipnejsi, najozdobenejsi atd. Dvojica s 70cm srdcom priamo v centre mesta to asi vyhrala!

Google Maps a BestTravel app (sprievodca offline) nam zatial pocas nasich ciest takmer spolahlivo ukazuju cestu a smer. Google Maps je skvela ale je potreba naloadovat mapy predtym nez sa vydate mimo dosah wifi (a bohuzial jeden klik niekedy staci takto pripravene mapy stratit). Best Travel ma mapy funkcne i offline a taktiez offline zoznam zaujimavych miest, co niekedy moze sposobit zaujimave situacie. Tak sme si v tejto appke nasli v Yekaterinburgu nieco co po rusky znelo ako zamok, sadli na tramvaj, nasledovali mapu a tesili sa ako budeme objavovat historicke pamiatky. Vylet zacal byt trochu podozrivy ked nas cesta doviedla do otvoreneho parku ‘PKiO’ (takmer doslova Park kultury a oddychu). Az na mape vnutri sme zistili, ze nasa dobrodruzna cesta nas vedie k strasidelnemu zamku – jednej z atrakcii parku! Ale nevadi, nakoniec sme sa po ludoprazdnom parku aspon poprechadzali. Namiesto Mickey Mousov a Disney princezien tento park pre deti ozdobovali sochy sportovcov a atletov. Mark si robi zo mna srandu, ale mne sa to zda teda celkom vychovne – deti su tak vedene i k zmysluplnym aktivitam ;). Na zaver nasej prechadzky sme si dali Balticku 7 – lokalne pivko, ktore nam uz bolo zname z restauracneho vozna a isli naspat na hostel.

V Yekaterinburgu je o nieco menej restauracii nez v Petersurgu a vacsina su bufetoveho typu – dobre jedlo za dobru cenu. Najvyhodnejsie su i z nasich koncin zname obedove menu, kde za okolo 5 euro dostanete polievku, salat, hlavne jedlo, dezert i pitie.

V okoli mesta je niekolko moznosti kam vyrazit, ked sa vam uz zunuje mestskeho ruchu. Tradicne ruske dedinky, banicke muzeum, hory a – ako sme si vybrali my – hranica Europy a Azie. V skutocnosti, existuju 2 miesta na hranici blizko Yekatreinburgu, kde boli vztycene monumenty. My sme si vybrali ten starsi. Pri novom su vybudovane obchody so suvenirmi a restauracie, a tak nas az tak nelakal. Stari monument bol udajne i miestom, kde podla Lonely Planet Ferdinand 2 rad holdoval svojmu poharu vina – jeden v Europe a jeden v Azii. Uprimne, monument nic moc, a az na pamatnu fotku kde kazdy z nas stojime na inom kontinente, vylet moc nestal za to. Ak ale aj tak budete planovat sa tam raz vydat, citajte dalej.

Dostat sa k staremu monumentu neni uplne tak jednoduche ako to uvadzaju bedekre a rozne online zdroje. Tie vam poradia ist na autobus alebo vlak do mestecka Pervouralsk, ale nie vsetky vam povedia, ze pri monumente zastavka nie je a vy potrebujete dopredu povedat soferovi aby tam zastavil. Ked vas autobus vysadi v strede cesty, uvidite maly monument ‘Europa Azia’ a budete mat pocit, ze toto fakt nestalo za to. Ale nezufajte – uvidite cestu do lesa, ktora zdanlivo nevedie nikam – sup po nej! Za cca 100 metrov sa vam vyjasni a uvidite ten skutocny monument (a mozete si teraz finalne povedat – to nestalo za to). No a co vas caka pri monumente? Milenecke zamky! Ano. Tak sa chvilku pokochajte, vyskusajte samospust a vydajte sa naspat. Cesta naspat moze byt este dobrodruznejsia nez cesta tam. Kedze ziadna oficialna zastavka tu neexistuje, nezostava vam nic, len mavat na okoloiduce autobusy na smer, z ktoreho ste prisli. Niektori vodici evidente respektuju pravidla a iba na vas mavnu, ale niektori sucitia. Nam zastavil ten treti po pol hodinke.

V Yekaterinburgu sme byvali v Indie Hostel. Je to vlastne 3-izbovy byt na prvom poschodi obytneho domu (panelaku). Polina – majitelka a zaroven recepcna ho otvroila pred necelymi 8 mesiacmi. Hostel je velmi cisty, utulny a i ked nie uplne centralne polozeny, do centra dobre dostupny. V hosteli mate na vyber bud dvojlozkovu izbu alebo tzv. dormitory izbu, do ktorej sa zmesti 8 cestovatelov. My sme boli jeden den uplne sami a potom sa pridali dalsi – nasi prvi cestovatelski kamosi – Eli z Anglicka, ktorej jej takmer rocna put uz konci a talian Carlo, ktory podobne ako my len zacina a ktoreho mozno na cestach este uvidime. Recenzie na Tripadvisore tu.

Vyber fotiek z Yekaterinburgu je tu.


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