Indian Spices on Radishev Boulevard in Tver

A couple of years ago Dima (the one who took over the Dacha & Horses project) told me that an Indian food is now available in Tver but I disregarded the story thinking good things just don’t happen in that hole. It turned out that the Indian Spices now does have an outlet in this gloomy city. It is Bulvar Radisheva 33. Open 10am to 8pm every day. Tel. +7 4822 574557.

Who was Radishev? Every city on the way from Moscow to St. Peterburg has a street named after Alexander Nikolayevich Radishev who earned this honour for travelling between these two places and publishing, in around 1790, his travel notes intermingled with criticizing the government, for which he was arrested, sentenced to be hanged, more >>

Staritsa photos, part 1

Part 1 of my attempt to consolidate the Staritsa stuff scattered around. Here are some photos of the town and the surrounding countryside, and much more are on their way.

Rolling hills, semi-forested, largely abandoned or used for grazing, still mostly free access. Ideal for hiking or camping. In recent past (till shortly after the war) the area was densely populated (three times the density and probably 10 times the economic activity compared to present). A stroll with a metal detector is certain to get you something from the past.

more >>

An embarrassing discovery

It turned out that I still haven’t moved old Staritsa pages here yes. I’m now proceeding to sift through my old Starista related pages to generate a summary of what I deem valuable to travellers. I’ll use the advantage offered by CMS and add stuff in the form of short posts in hope that the Categories function will let you easily find these bits. Simpler for me to do it that way than writing one long text as in the old days..

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.

Iconic “misery” scenes from Tver

I knew the place well in my Staritsa days and even took Australian and Holywood filmmakers there in ~2004 when hired to assist in a documentary on Russian women, where my job was to set up interviews with prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, writers, painters, and religious freaks while my competitor Olesya was given the job of makeing arrangement with successful woman.

 

more >>

Tver

My old Tver page is hopelessly outdated but you may still be able to eek if not specific information then the general feel for the place. Doubt I’ll be doing any major update on Tver. I confess it is not among my favourite places in Russia. A factory town full of gloom but of the sort that somehow fails to excite a connoisseur of anti-aesthetics I am. The only business reason to promote Tver is “Russian brides”, up to around 2004 were a major industry. But I’m much better connected in Ryazan and am nicely equipped to assist you in this futile task there rather than in Tver. The city is, however, in the middle of interesting territory. Close to Staritsa, where my Dacha & Horses project is still alive and well without my presence. Close to Torzhok, which is on my personal favourites list. If asked about Tver regularly I may do a proper update. After all this project is to entice clients, not to share my tastes and preferences.

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.

Bologoye (Bologoe)

bologoye_n_areaOne of these nondescript industrial towns (transportation,  railroad ties tarring operation, armature factory, furniture factory, agriculture). Population 25 th. Its claim to fame in being located exactly halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. It is also know by the highly annoying 1980s Veselyye Rebyata (Fun Guys) hit that’s still heard around a lot. If travelling between Moscow and St. Petersburg stay either in Torzhok or Valday unless of course you are after industrial landscapes that define Russia no less than gold-plated onion domes. Vyshni Volochek and Bologoye section of the Moscow to St. Petersburg highway is famous for traffic collapses. Being stuck for 3-6 hours is entirely common. In the beginning of winter 2012 traffic stood still for two or three days. Most images in the videos below seem to be from middle section of Highway 10 often called the Road of Death for its highers per mile accident rate of all of Russian roads. Watch this and this in preparation for your trip and keep distance! Train derailing are also common in the area. The last one happened in 2009 and was officially attributed to evil Chechen terrorists but if you ask me 200km/hour is a bit excessive for tracks laid over a swamp.

Hotel

  • Only one, as it should be for a town of this size. BOLOGOYE HOTEL, ulitsa Kirova 22, +7 (48238) 22377. $30-50/night. The official standard 2-3 start type hotel.

Other accommodation (and entertainment) options

  • VALDAYSKAYA USADBA, derevnya Kotovo, Bologoye rayon, tel. +7 (903) 807-4222, +7 (495) 790-8307. Banya, horse riding.
  • ZAIMKA, derevnya Glubochikha, Bologoye rayon, +7 (48238) 24706. Special attraction: banya “po-chernomy”, old-style, without chimney.
  • KINOGORODOK, selo Mikhailovskoya, Bologoye rayon, +7 (916) 162-96-10, +7 (915) 717-7925. Lake, sailboats.
  • OZERNY HEALTH RESORT, Bologoye, +7 (48238) 2-29-59.

Lots of undocumented guesthouses scattered around. I personally would not bother planning for accommodation if travelling in this area. The Moscow to St. Petersburg highway, the country’s main road, is full of passable and very inexpensive hostels that cater to truck drivers.

I haven’t found any active Bologoye sites. The biggest cluster of Bologoye ads, mostly apartment and land sales, is at

  • bologoe.tve.slando.ru/list/?page=3. Russian bride seekers may want to advertise there. Bologoye is one of these gloomy places where young women are motivated to get out. But no, I have no connections there. If you want my assistance, it will be Ryazan and only Ryazan, where I know the scene.

Speaking of advertising, there are two messages from me.

camp

  • First, ask about a trip, possibly camping style, between Moscow and St. Petersburg, and possibly further north. Gold Ring tours also doable. I personally am available to drive you around, to ask something of a guide, and generally keep you safe and comfortable. Even to act as a cook if you are into things bright, crispy, spicy, and full of sesame seed and olive oil! I come equipped with a truck, a camper, and a bunch of camping equipment. 3-4 can travel very comfortably, and what you’ll save on hotels and restaurant meals will be almost enough to cover costs. 

moonie_fall_2

  • Second, my former horse riding establishment near Staritsa, 250km from Moscow and about 600 to St. Petersburg, is still in business. Authentic isolated village setting, Upper Volga hills. Horse riding or Gypsy-style trips. Rafting. Catacomb exploration. Experienced riders can go unaccompanied. $50 per person per day includes accommodation, food, and horse riding! See www.russian-horse-rides.com