I’d like to put emphasis on Pudozh, about 10 hours north from St. Petersburg. Why? Strategic location, half way between St. Petersburg and Kandalaksha. Several hotels and lots of guesthouses that normally cost $20 per person per night in and around Pudozh. Probably the best place to fix the car that, by the time it reaches Pudozh, especially if moving south, may be falling apart as a consequence of beaten up roads. We had several jobs done by Serezha and Dima, +7 911 665 1396, and ours is not an easy car to work on. Speaking of car problems, torn our shocks, bearings, and exploded tires are most common victims of holes in asphalt. Check suspension before going, and don’t forget to deflate tires on rough stretches of the road. Alexandra’s Chow-Chow dog Tasha comes from Pudozh and Alexandra maintains active connections with Tasha’s breeders. Pudozh definitely belongs to what feels like familiar territory.
I haven’t inspected this one myself but judging from the number of billboards the “Bear Corner” a major tourist center. more >>
Kem’ to Solovki boat schedule: see www.nasolovki.ru. Ticket are about 800 rubles (under $28-28).
Found another useful resource “Arkhangelsk Regional Tourist Association” (ARTA). Union of all or most interesting tour operators Arkhangelsk region. Information about tours, transportation, accommodation, museums, souvenirs and more. All for the Arkhangelsk region (Solovki, Kizhi, Kiy Island, etc.). Alas, only in Russian. White Sea coast awaits his guide in the English speaking world..
Igor Podgorny, a downshifter from Moscow, makes excellent photos. See http://igorpodgorny.livejournal.com/452094.html
My own familiarity with Pudozh is based on staying there 24 hours while local car mechanics searched all over and found ball bearings for our decaying LandRover, and successfully installed them, and enlightened us on what specific auto breakdowns are provoked by Karelian roads, and on the importance of keeping tires a bit deflated. Alexandra has connections through her Chow-Chow network.
Belomorsk and Kem’ are among the most intense points on the Gulag map of Russia. During my last Kandalaksha to Moscow trip (end of August 2012) I was with a travel companion who refused to subject herself to the Belomorsk aura. Indeed, there are places better visited alone. Technically, and easy stopping point on any trip along the Moscow to Kola axis. I may do that in summer 2012. For now here are some resources in English that convey the spirit of the place:
Hotel Gandvick, Pervomayskaya 18, +7 814-37 22569
Hotel Belomorya, Voronina 8, +7 814 375-42-00
Turbaza (~camp) SLYuTiK, Lomonosova 21, 814-37)2-32-90
Adding this story in line with Pasha’s request to show that the way from Moscow to Kandalaksha is packed with things touristy..
It is believed that the biggest spruce Fennoscandia grows in the Zaozersky national park near Petrozavodsk.
Height 36 meters, the age of about 170 years. Finnish tree experts say they haven’t seen a spruce tree bigger than this one. I wonder how they know. Did they inspect and measure **every** tree in Fennoscandia? Doubtful.. The claim smells fishy. Anybody aware of a bigger spruce? Tell me!