A welcomed change from the usual set of search phrases

Sunday just started according to staritsa.info’s clock, and today’s first search phrase was “Baptist churches near Solnechnogorsk”. I hereby praise the Lord for a welcomed change from the usual that I won’t even mention despite the need to saturate the sites with words and phrases that draw people. Dear G-d, please consider this as my donation. The church in question is in Zelenograd, about 30km from Solnechnogorsk, and its site is http://www.zelbaptist.org/

Khimki flea market

novopodrezkovo_view_2Moscow’s biggest, cheapest, and the most authentic flea market is now at the Novopodrezkovo station in Khimki, north of Moscow, not far from Airport Sheremetyevo. Since Khimki is associated or is a part of Moscow I’ll post a complete report at where.cheap-moscow.com under categories Flea markets or Soviet era items or even Books, Clothing, or Art, of which there are LOTS. Authenticity enthusiasts will like it, and an the surface the place may even appear to the fans of Russian Misery Travel (c) concept even though I found the place highly pleasant and relaxing.

Solnechnogorsk (“Sun City”)

solnechnogorsk_obeliskA quiet place with a definite provincial feel. Or it was about 2008, when I stayed there for a couple of days. But even now I don’t recall hearing of any particularly nasty scandals involving Solnechnogorsk. OK, a few land speculation schemes made it to mass media but that happens everywhere, often in uglier forms. Solnechnogorsk is rarely mentioned in crime news. And I don’t pick up any particularly ugly “vibes” when driving through the place.

~40km km from the edge of Moscow. Right on the Moscow to St. Petersburg highway. Railroad station Podsolnechnaya.

Prefix “pod” means “under”, “sol” is “sun”, and the rest is suffixes and endings that you only need to know well enough to cut them off because suffixes indicate subtle shades of meaning and endings are there only for the reasons of grammar. But do yourself a favour – learn to identify prefixes and roots. Often they will be familiar to an educated speaker of English and other European languages. “Pod” should be familiar from “podzol”. “Pedal” is based on the same Indo-European root. “Pod-sol-nukh” is “under-sun-someone”, or “sunflower”. “-nechnaya” makes an adjective out of “podsolnukh”. Try breaking long Russian words into parts and thing will look much easier and more familiar. 

Population close to 60 th. Built in the late 40s as one of the centers of nuclear research and/or the army division that specializes in rockets. There’s got to be a name for it.

Attractions no doubt include WW2 stuff as the area is about where the civilizing mission of Germans was stopped because at the time they suffered mass insanity with all the usual consequences while their adversaries where willing to send millions of unarmed untrained pseudo-soldiers to the front.

The Germans would have done much better better had they hired me as as a consultant and facilitator before their invasion. Don’t be like them! If thinking of getting something out of Russia – whether you are an invader, a businessman, or a Russian bride seeker – get me to do a skeptical assessment of your plans.

Solnechnogorsk I think is associated with Alexander Block. The one who wrote in praise of the revolution (eg. see his Twelve) and then died of hunger in 1919. Don’t quote me on that but I think decadence era poets had a hangout somewhere in the back of the village of Posdolnechny as Solnechnogorsk was called back then.

More Russian lessons. “Gor” is the core of “gorod”, “city”, which is related to “guarded”. “-gorsk” is attached to the root to make a city name such as “Medvezhye-gorsk” or “Severo-gorsk”. “Medved” in turn consists of “med”, probably related to French “miel”, “honey”, and “ved”, “ved”, “someone who knows”, cf. Sanskrit “vedas”. If I only could get you travellers to look at Russian that way! A foreign language, true. Not an easy one. But not from another planet either.

Of famous people alive I can only think of Vasily Lozhkin, who lives escapist lifestyle that’s back in favour with intelligensia of the Putin-forever era, paints cats, ugly babushkas, and visions typical of delirium tremens although he himself has a reputation of a tea-teetotaler.


After one of my own escapist episodes Alexandra punished me by installing one of Vasily Lozhkin’s paintings onto my computer’s desktop. Being a techno-peasant I don’t know how to remove it. After a while I got used to and even liked it, looked up the artist, and instantly fell in love. On his site I was particularly touched by explicit lack of copyright and an invitation to use his art as one likes.

More Russian made Simple the Uncle Pasha Pasha Way. Remember “sol” is “sun” (solar), “-nechn” is a suffix or suffixes that you don’t need to know but only identify as NOT a critical part of a word, “gor” is a cognate, if that’s the right word, of “guarded” and means “city”, and “sk” again is a suffix to make all that stuff into a city name. As long as you recognize “sol” and “gor” and cut out the rest you will know that it is “Sun City”.

Where to stay – The only hotel I’m able to locate there is Elis, tel. +7(4962) 64-9580, at 84 Ulitsa Krasnaya.  But in these cities lots of accommodation options are undocumented. If you need to stay there just ask and I’m sure there will be several “obshezhitiye” or “dom otdykha” type places happy to offer you shelter.

Of Solnechnogorsk industry I only have a file on their parachute factory, and this establishment came to my attention in around 1998 because back then it made large tents and yurts. Let me see.. Here is their site and no, the only non-parachute thing is rope ladders.


Zelenograd may be an undiscovered treasure. I’ll try to spend a few hours there at teh first opportunity. More coming up, with some luck soon..

Claim to fame – Research institutes, electronics, an engineered city made to be livable, no underclass.

Livability – Zelenograd is rated as a very livable place with one of the lowest crime rates in Moscow and the region. 40 minutes by train to the center of Moscow, very close to the Sheremetyevo airport, yet away from Moscow’s noise and pollution.

Accommodation – Since it looks like a very livable place I’ll try to dig something up on accommodation there. I mean real accommodation, not chain hotels that offer rooms starting $150/night in addition to all sorts of ways to rip you off, eg. laundry at $7-10 **per item**.

Attractions – I was surprised to find that this city still has a Baptist Church that is still active now, in 2012, when the Russian Orthodox version of Christianity is a de facto state religion. Yet another reason for an American to consider making Zelenograd home.

Domodedovo to Ryazan

There is a shuttle bus between Domodedovo and Ryazan. As of November 2012 the bus was leaving Ryazan at 4am, 8am, 12noon, 4pm, and 8pm, transit time 3.5 hours (but remember the road  situation and have at least two hours extra!), and the cost was 500 roubles, or about $17US. The number of the company called Uletny Marshrut is +7 800 555 1417 or  +7 496 612-1728.

The bus will take you through Kolomna, which is “almost” a Gold Ring city half-way between Ryazan and Domodedovo. So you can combine getting yourself to/from Ryazan and seeing onion domes and tacky monuments in Kolomna.

In Ryazan buses leave from Michurinskaya Ploshad. In Domodedovo they are parked to your left as you exit the airport, close to the exit station.


Attention budget enthusiasts or Russian Misery Tourism (c) fans! The famous Dutch Loft is back. $40-50/night steps from Red Square.

My apartment that’s available for rent to travellers clever enough to locate and recognize by far the best of Moscow accommodation offers is out of circulation till at least the end of May 2013. Alla, who’ll be staying there with her daughter and mother, will be happy to avail a place to sleep (probably the couch or the famous Dutch Loft) to a pleasant and sociable (English practice is part of her motivation) traveller.

The rate I suggest is $40-50 per night, which remains by far the best price. The closest competitor would be a hostel with a room shared with 4-6 unpredictable characters, often of different sex. Or a hotel way in the outskirts of the city even though I don’t think there is anything left for that rate.

Russian bride seekers please note that Alla is connected into an extensive network of single professional women of 30-40 age range, and can help you in your search. More on Russian brides here >>


Open air tank museum in Lenino

A display of old tanks in Lenino. Or it may be Snegiri next door. The nearest station is said to be Snegiri. No more than an hour from the Ring Road, north-west from Moscow.

Don’t these things look better in snow? A proper tourist – now nearly extinct – wants to see Russia in winter. Late fall and winter, long drizzling rain and snow is what shapes and defines this land. Please note my Winter is the Soul of Russia (c) concept and tell me fucking why in all these years only two couples took advantage of that?!

Yes, you can touch, climb, or go into these tanks.

The red brick wall to the left is beginning of a huge Memorial to the Defenders of Moscow.

Something unbearably cute from the 20s. May be one of the first classic tanks by Renault.

Can anybody tell me why military equipment is (nearly) always beautiful? I doubt designers made any input into making these tanks. No focus groups were presented with sketches and models. Yet the result is a product of high aesthetic appeal. Tells us something about the nature of beauty, eh?