Trans-Mongolia Train Trip – Yekaterinburg

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Trans-Mongolian train route 542
After another long day’s train travel we’re now over 6000km from Beijing and this is our last day in Asia. As we depart Yekaterinburg we’re crossing the Urals and pass a lake and then a tunnel which officially marks the transition from Asian Russia into European Russia. Goodbye Siberia.

Level crossing 542
▲ There are more roads crossing the railway line, there’s no chance of dodging around the barrier at Russian level crossings. A plate rises up from the roads to stop vehicles crossing the tracks when they shouldn’t.

Yekaterinburg’s big attraction is the Church of the Blood, built on the site of the house where Tsar Nicholas II and family were killed by the Bolsheviks. Remarkably the original building (they were shot in the basement) survived right through the communist period, it was Boris Yeltsin (a Yekaterinburg boy) who had it demolished.

Church of the Blood portraits 542
▲ There’s a real crowd in the church, a lot of portrait parading, icon kissing and flag waving including by one heavily bearded character waving a skull-and-crossbones flag as if he’s the local representative of the pirates’ party.

Church of the Blood cossacks 542
▲ Two friendly Cossacks posing for photographs outside the church.

Pushkin 271◄We look around at the other sites near the church including the statue of local hero Alexander Pushkin. There are walking tour instructions painted on the pavement – Number 14 ‘statue of Pushkin.’ No that’s not Pushkin’s phone number.

Then we cross the road to statues of the Russian Orthodox saints Peter and Fevronia, the patrons of the family and marriage, who have rather silly legends attached. Yekaterinburg has some Russian rock & roll history although we don’t stay long enough to investigate. ▼
rock & roll 542

Sverdlov 271According to our guide there are only eight (I presume big) Lenin statues left in Russia and one of them is here. Well we saw one in Novosibirisk, where are the others? It ounds like it would make a good Russian quest, tracking down each of them? Next we skip straight by a memorial to Afghan and Chechen veterans, our guide and our driver (who was in Afghanistan in ‘80-81) agree it was crazy getting in to Afghanistan.

◄ Back at the station I’m told we have half an hour before our delayed departure so I go off to photograph a ‘farewelling heroes going off to the war’ statue and a bust of Yakov Sverdlov. A Lenin sidekick the town was named after Sverdlov during the communist era. It turns out the train is leaving in five minutes time, not half an hour, and I nearly miss it!