19.05.2007 -17 °C
I made it from Anapa (way down south) to Smolensk without any problems. Aeroflot from Anapa to Moscow, then a 5 hr train ride to Smolensk.
Smolensk is one of the Hero Cities that I wanted to visit. These poor folks were run over twice, once by the Germans, and once by their liberatators.
This town's resisitance was vital in slowing the German advance to Moscow. There was also a very strong resistance movement which made things difficult for the Germans when they were camped out in front of Moscow during that first winter.
I am staying at Hotel Centralnaya, right in the middle of town. I will be here for 4 nights. Accomodation in a decent room is 2150 R, the second most expensive so far. I need to fully recharge before going back into Hostel mode for my last 3 nights in Moscow.
For the first time in the trip, I actually have hills to climb when I go for walks! What a nice change. Walked around the central part of town a bit last night... the guide book said the young people make the city vibrant = streets filled by 16-25 yr old folks all night! At night, it seems that 95% of the population is under 30!
I spent today day walking around town and stumbled upon a ceromony at the eternal flame where three veterans from the battle of Smolensk were honoured. I then visited the Smolensk WWII Museum and became aware that the children's (10-12) group visiting the museum seemed to be more interested in me than the museum's stuff. One of them was even brave enough to try an talk to me!
I then spent the rest of the day visiting the central marketplace that is located on the Northern side of the Dnepr River. Once again I was getting the kind of looks that made it clear that they don't get too many tourists in this town. I haven't had this reaction in any other town that I have been so far.... kind of a strange feeling.
The market was very busy with all stalls doing a brisk business... except one! It seems that not alot of folks shop for fake fur coats on May 18 when it feels like about 26-28 C outside. Perhaps someone needs a basic marketing course!
Unfortunetly, some the of Doom and Gloom aspects are back. The young folks out drinking at night are happy. The one's out drinking at 10:00 am are not. I guess that is a part of Russian life...
For the people at work.... There were a number of folks selling eggs in the market... I full sunlight for hours. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that they don't clean the eggs before bringing them to market = they are very natural!
Happiness and Joy