A Travellerspoint blog

Volgograd, aka Stalingrad

The beginning of the end of WWII

-17 °C

Only two Hotels in town and they both seem to have only luxury rooms available (for foreigners???) => The bottomline = 2 nights here will cost the same as 5 nights in a hostel in Moscow and 6 nights in st-Petersburg.

At least the hotel was at the top of the bluff that overlooks the Volga river.

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On the bright side I really needed a nice break! Not sharing rooms and having a nice long hot bath is a real treat. I felt an incredible sense of peace walking around the parks and down by the river. Stalingrad is the main reason I came to Russia.

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Mamev Kurgan is beyond belief... once again the Russians sure know how to build their memorials!

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I was able to watch the changing of the guard ceromony inside the Eternal Flame Memorial. The entire process takes 8-10 minutes. Once the new guards are in place, they are given a complete inspection by an officer who seems to need to adjust every single pleat and straighten every wrinkle found on the unform of each soldier. To officer obviosly took great pride in doing this.

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The Museum for the defence of Stalingrad (not part of Mamaev Kurgan site) was basically empty and there were not enough people there for them to put on a tour of the panora => The main attraction at the museum...

I went out to several of the "disco tents" found by the river at night. It seems that a Russian/English version of Venus (Bananarama) is the most populat song in Russia right now. Warning, at some point during the evening the porta potties are locked!... and none of the "Disco Tents" seem to have bathrooms. Anyway, 100 R was enough to convince a security guard that I could leave after being caught answering the call of nature...

I was able to hook-up with some Angolans and we spent the night chatting in French => Fun night. Nice change from watching 10 year old boys sitting on a park bench getting drunk at 10:00 on a Saturday morning.

I'll have to change my plans again as there is a big International conference in Saratov. 2 weeks left in Russia but as of now I have no clue where I will be going next. Oh well, I'll figure that our in the morning.

Happiness and Joy

Posted by TeflonCDN 04:05 Archived in Russia Comments (1)

Ooops, I did it again

Just like going to the wrong Victory Park a few days ago... today, I missed the main parade down Nevsky Prospect. The Hostel people told me it was at 10:00... but that was not very impressive!

The real parade was at 6:00 pm, and I was in the hostel making myself supper! Oh, well... I went down to the main party square (in front of the Hermitage) for a few hours (7-9).

The older folks that were in the army or were residents of Leningrad during the seige were approached every now-and-then by small groups of young people, or cute little girls, that gave them flowers and thanked them. From what I could tell it was all very real and very heartfelt. The scenes were very touching/moving.
Again, I was surprised by the number of groups of teenage girls paying tribute to these people. I wish we had scenes like that during our Remembrance Day.

I decided to leave the main square at 9:00 as things were getting a little crowded. On the way back to the Hostel, Nevsky was closed to traffic and had been taken over by hoards of people were heading to the square for the fireworks at 10:00. The Hostel is about 1km away from the fireworks and they were still very loud and booming = shaking things in the building. they must set them to be extra loud... I guess they don't have any stupid safety rules re. hearing in Russia OR perhaps they are trying to recreate an artillery barrage.... Hmmm.

Hapiness and Joy

Marc Rejeanovich

Posted by TeflonCDN 11:28 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

No Big War Mememorials in St-Pete's

I was wrong

-17 °C

The Victory Day parade was a bit of a let down... maybe plans were changed because the bad weather??? But the cold drizzle was perfect for me.

Yesterday's search for the war memorials was rather dissapointing. I had found Victory Place and it was mostly a urban park with few monuments.

Today, I hit the jackpot. I visiited Victory Park and The Memorial to the Heroic Defender's of Lenningrad. All Doom and Gloom accompanied by the appropriate music. Those Soviets sure know how to make memorials. The main underground hall has 900 lights, one for each day of the seige. They also had a children singing inside the memorial.

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The bronze statues were very melodramatic.... commanders urging soldiers forward... brave soldiers supporting wounded citizens, fathers kissing daughters... mothers kissing sons... sisters and wives making Artillary Shells... You know, the regular stuff.

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The Russian really acknowledge the role of women in supporting the war. There was an exhibit devoted to this at the Moscow WWII Museum.

The War Memmorials in Russia attract a very ecclectic crowd. The old, the young, males and females. The memorials are not dominated by middleaged males like me.

Happiness and Joy

Marc Rejeanovich

Posted by TeflonCDN 05:59 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Today, the Hermitage

One word => Obscene

The Palace is too grand to describe... and then they filled it full of trinkets! I spent 6.5 hrs wandering the halls and rooms. This museum seems to cover all periods and all sytles of Art throughout world history.

The popular rooms were contantly overflowing with tours, however, there were large areas of the museum where I was virutally alone... the middle-eastern section, asian collections and primitive eastern european section were all empty. The crowds really seemed to flock to guys like Rodin, Leonardo, Cezan, Monet..., etc. The list goes on-and-on. MY BRAIN HURTS.

Tomorrow, Victory Day Celebrations

Yeah!

Happiness and Joy

Marc Rejeanovich

Posted by TeflonCDN 06:45 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Deeper into the Bowels of St-Pete's

I went out last night until 5:30 with four girls from the hostel, 2 Russian, 2 French. We had a great time stolling around, watched the bridges go up on the Neva and went to a hole in the wall bar call Dacha. Alot of fun but it did cause a rather late start for today = 1:30.

I was able to get my visa registered at another hostel for free, instead of 1000 R (50 CDN) at the travel agency. This hostel was luxurious compaired to this place (Sh__ Hole). Half the rooms, double the showers. There are 2 showers for 40 beds here! AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

My first mission for the day was the find the "Caution, artillery falls on this side of the street sign" on Nevsky Prospect. It was surprisingly easy because the UN Extraction specialist told me where to look.... a good thing because Nevsky is a long street.

I walked to Victory Park today, it took about 1 1/2 hours and I was treated to some of the sights of real St-Pete's = i.e., the non-downtown area. People were actually helpfull!

The park was a bit of a let down. There were only a few statues. Victory Park in Moscow was a massive memorial to WWII. Victory Park in St-Pete's is actually a wonderfull city park full of people, a very lively place... mostly filled with NOVICE inline skaters. There were only 2 statues and 1 small stone with a WWII inscription.

I was treated to the most absurd scene of the trip so far in Victory Park. The main walkway down the centre of the Park is about 12 metres wide. A person was standing in the middle of the pathway and was shooting arrows... across the path to a target about 6-7 metre beyond the edge of the paved path, with a dirt walkway as a backstop! This is a very busy area. To make things worse, he would invite passersby to try and hit the target. These people were clueless and totally focused on the target = unaware of the rollerbladers that were crossing between the archers and their target.... and for some reason, the rollerbladers' were not on the lookout for the impromptu archery range. ... Go figure! There were a few close calls but no one got shot!

I am looking forward to heading to Volgograd. I think I have had enough of St-Pete's. If Volgorad is a big improvement, I may alter my plan again and head of the the boonies, like Lake Bakail.... too much big city is starting to have a bad effect.

Tomorrow the Hermitage!

Happiness and Joy

Marc Rejeanovich

Posted by TeflonCDN 11:01 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

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