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.

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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 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.


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My old Tver page is hopelessly outdated but you may still be able to eek if not specific information then the general feel for the place.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.

Around USSR borders on a bike

Here is a story about a 1928-1931 trip along the USSR borders by Glebe Travin. Too bad it is only in Russian. If nothing else enjoy photos. The story itself contains vivid descriptions of dangers awaiting a solo arctic traveller.

An overview:

A.A. Kharitanovksy, A man with an iron deer:

Vokrug Sveta (Around the World), No. 11, 1975:


Another travelogue

This tortured soul operates a hostel in Odessa, which is almost as bad as running a full cycle traveller support service in Moscow as I do, and if it wasn’t enough he compulsively drives though less hospitable regions of Russia, including the northern parts, in a truck that can at best be used for a beer run to the nearest town. Read about his adventures and misadventures at For his trips this travel maso inevitably picks winter too. Recommended reading if you are contemplating travel in the Former Soviet Union space in the Russian Misery Travel (c) mode.

From the history of the Solovki prison

Adding this story here so that it does not get lost. I won’t bother translating it but the core is that Solovki was used as a prison way before the Bolsheviks took over. Bolshevik sympathizers among monks became the first and particularly cruel guards when Solovki was converted into a political prison. Some see the story as one of many illustrations that Red Terror, the campaign against peasants, or the 1937-1938 purges was a manifestation of Russians self-devouring tendency. More stout russophobes will even say that it can’t be otherwise because Russians as a nation consist of enemies who partly forgot their origins but haven’t changed their nature.

В 1905 году экипаж одного из военных судов попал в плен в Японию. В плену моряки дали зарок стать монахами. После интернирования им дали (без прохождения послушания) статус иеромонахов и отправили на Соловки. Сплочённая группа моряков стала постепенно перехватывать управление монастырём, старые монахи начали исходить на скиты. В 1917 году эта “группировка” поддержала переворот в Питере. В двадцатых годах XX века монахи уже закрытого большевиками Соловецкого монастыря приняли активное участие в создании новой соловецкой тюрьмы. После официального учреждения Соловецкого лагеря Особого Назначения, монахи отослали в Санкт-Петербург телеграмму, в которой выражали полное согласие с фактом создания концентрационного лагеря на базе бывшей обители. Мало того, большая часть монахов выразила желание… работать в этом лагере. Монахов устроили инструкторами и выплачивали им заработную плату. Любопытно, что эти же монахи выделялись особенно жестоким отношением к священнослужителям-заключённым.
Православные историки очень не любят эту часть истории монастыря. Кстати, что для Васи Матонина “трагическая” история, для меня – закономерность. В тюремном монастыре по-иному и случиться не могло…

Источник – Олег Кодола, Союх независимых гидов

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.


  • 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

  • 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.


  • 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. 


  • 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