Medvezhyegorsk canal building.jpgPopulation ~15 thousand, which means a couple of hotels, 2-4 car repair places and about the same number of cafes. It is on the Moscow to Murmansk railway, at the north end of Lake Onega. The White Sea-Baltic Canal passes through Medvezhyegorsk and the early 1930s Canal administration building defines the city. In early 30s Medvezhyegorsk was the capital of the White Sea to Baltic canal, the first major forced labour project, and has a museum dedicated to it. In 1942-1944 it was held by the Finns who carved fortifications in the rock hills around the city, and these are still there almost intact.

Getting there

Murmansk trains from Moscow and St. Petersburg stop at Medvezh’yegorsk.

You can travel to Kola from Moscow either through Saint-Petersburg, or via and Yaroslavl and Vologda. Both routes will converge at Medvezh’yegorsk.

Where to stay

Generally no problem in Karelia. Unlike Russians, it is not an issue for a Karel family to set aside a couple of rooms in their house for travellers and to nail a piece of plywood with “Гостевой дом” (gostevoy dom, guest house) to a tree by the road. Lots of guesthouses once you cross the border to Karelia. I personally would not bother planning my accommodation. But since my clients are westerners who often suffer from an obsession with arranging things in advance (a side effect from living in an ordered environment) I will continue documenting hotels, hostels, and guest houses. Here is my Medvezh’yegorsk catch:

Onezhskaya. Probably cheap judging from the fact that toilets are shared and there is an extra fee to use the shower. Ulitsa Dzerzhinskogo 3, +7 81434 23282.

Malaya Medvezhka. Tel. +7 921 22778 77 ,   Said to be cozy and very cheap.

Gorodskaya,  +7-81434-21495 (reception), +7-81434-21404 (director), +7-81434-23652 (fax).

Car repair in Medvezhyegorsk

Medvezhyegorsk seems like a good place to have your car looked at after it has received a beating from local roads and trails. Ask for a place called “Mekhaniki” on or near ulitsa Kommunarov. A bunch of garages with rough-looking men, and seemingly very few clients.