Belated announcement of a sled dog competition in Pryazha, Karelia

Jan. 19-20, but you can look at photos here: The point I want to make – partly because it is consistent with my plans to keep on developing the rural tourism scene partly because it is true – is that life is drifting away from Moscow and St. Petersburg to small towns and villages. These photos, I believe, were made by a runaway Muscovite who make Petrozavodsk, Karelia (~200km from Pryazha) his home.


English version of the event’s site:




A Karelian town of about 20 thousand between Lodeynoye Polye and Petrozavodsk.


Late afternoon of August 4, 2011, with still about 1000km to Kandalaksha, I felt too tired to continue. In the cafe where I stopped I noticed a hotel sign that, turned out, referred to an inconspicuous shed nearby, asked about the price, and on hearing it is 500 roubles ($17) for a separate room decided to call it a day.

Watch for this sign on the right side of the Kola highway when going north. Comfortable one day’s trip from Saint-Petersburg, another two days to the sea, a good point to stop.

The view of the whole stop. Although there are hundreds of these along major roads, the trick is to identify the good ones. How? No clear-cut instructions I can give. Presence of trucks is one sign. But then truckers are tough guys with noise, dirt, smoke and what not. In this case the decision whether to keep going or to stay was made on noticing a board with the history of the place, paintings on the wall and, on the fact that the cafe has Wi-Fi.

Next morning I rearranged furniture and brought in a big monitor from the car to set up an office and proceeded documenting the recent Moscow to Valday trip with a Swiss family. When told by the hotel attendant that I’m free to work here till late afternoon at no extra charge I was impressed (in the Russian part of Russia they kick you out right on the checkout time) and then proceeded to do just that. Thus this “welcome to Karelia” page..

The nameless shed hotel is on the right side of the road if going north, about 90km from Lodeynoye Pole and 40km to Petrozavodsk (the capital of Karelia). Tel. +7 814 563 1077. The exact address is Poselok (village) Pryaza (translated as “thread for weaving” but can also be understood as the place where horses where re-harnessed), ul. Sovetskaya 114A.

That’s the actual hotel. Tiny. Much better inside then outside – very common in the north. Clean, and the facilities work. The water too is fresh, not brown and rusty, unlike in many much more expensive places I’ve seen. 500 roubles ($17) for a single room, 1000 ($35) for double as of August 2011.

From Pryaza you apparently can make a detour to Sortavala, from where it is not far from Julia, who is famous for living alone and running a horse riding operation. Thinking of going there today. 200km is not considered a distance of any significance these places, where population density is 10 persons per square kilometre..

..And yes, I made it to Sortavala and then to Ruskeala and did find the famous Julia >>

It is cold enough in Karelia for these wooden churches to last 3-4 centuries. A church in the village of Manga, about 15km from Pryaza. Got this info and the picture from the wall of the Staraya Kuznitsa cafe..


An aquarelle painting of the smithy, build in late 20s, which now serves as cafe’s main building, the the name “Staraya Kuznitsa” (“Old Smithy”).

Explored Pryaza next morning. Noticed at least two guesthouse type hotels. Liked the place, wondered why. The only church in town was protestant. Realized with delight that this is no longer “real” Russia.

No shortage of places to stay in Karelia, in contrast to Russia. This sign was noticed at a gas station near Pryazha. Two more guesthouses were noticed in the town itself..

Another hotel right in the village is Priozernaya (“by the lake”), ul. Sovetskaya 103, +7 81456 31469.

… Two more located in the vicinity of Pryazha:

Raduga (“Rainbow”) Baza Otdykha, derevnya Aleka, +7 81456 23575.

Lesnaya Skazka (Forest Fairly Tale) Baza Otdykha, derevnya Syargilakhta, +7 81456 23760.