Friday, 30 December 2011

Snow and ice decorations in Siberia in 2011-2012. The first out of many posts

Hello, everyone! First of all, I would like to wish all of you Happy New Year!
I was pretty busy these days, and not only was it business, but a lot of hectic with New Year preparations and celebrations.
We have already started celebrating with my children, both of them had a party at their kindergarten, and today we visited a public party for children in a big concert hall.
It was wonderful! All of us were really happy.
And after that we started visiting ice and snow 'towns', as we call them here. They are usually situated in parks, on squares and in yards of big houses.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dear readers! I know it's been again a long time since I last wrote. The end of a year is usually a pretty busy time, seems like everyone is trying to complete all the tasks one hasn't managed to fulfill during a year.
So I had a lot of translation, and it is mostly translation I do in winter. No guided tours since October. But I hope the Christmas week may be different. A year ago, for example, I had two city tours, on the 3rd and on the 7th of January, though it was about -30 on both days!

But this post is a Merry Christmas wish to everyone who happens to read my blog. I am very happy to see each of you here, as I see that I tend to have more readers and this year was special, as I started to receive comments to my posts. I would like to wish all of you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
May God bless you, your family and your friends!
May your business, should you have some, grow, and may all your dreams come true!

I promise to write a post about this year winter decorations in my city. A lot of snow and ice figures are under construction now, and I try to take my camera with me every time I leave my house.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Museum of Nikolas Roerich in Novosibirsk and Verkhniy Uymon, Altai

Nicholas Roerich, also known as Nikolai Konstantinovich Rerikh (Russian: Никола́й Константи́нович Рéрих; October 9 1874 – December 13, 1947), was a Russian mystic, painter, philosopher, scientist, writer, traveler, and public figure.
I love his paintings very much. His style is unique and recognizable, it's impossible to mix him up with someone else. As to his philosophy, I hadn't been interested in it much until recently. Perhaps it's my 'middle age' crisis, or I just reached the age when one starts some spiritual search for the meaning of this life, or mere coincidence, but somehow I feel that Roerich's philosophy and view of life is close to me. I haven't read any of his literary works yet, and I haven't read any of the works of his wife, Elena Roerich, but I'm definitely going to. Their philosophy is not completely Christian, and many true Christians say that the Roerichs were even opposed to Christianity, but to my mind its basic principles coincide with Christianity and all other common religions, as it is based on the principles of love and peace.
I don't want to dwell on the philosophy much, as I'm not an expert in it.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Who visits Novosibirsk?

There will be no pictures in this post, but I hope my readers will find it interesting.
The tourist season is over now, and I expect very few tourists in winter. I guided only three tours the previous winter, and it was luck, because many colleagues didn't have any at all.
But the season 2011 was very good for me, so I'd like to summarize it, analyze it and make some forecast for the next season.
My friends and family often ask me if I am honest to say that I have a lot of work with tourists. They cannot believe that Novosibirsk may be attractive for guests. I am convinced, however, that the number of tourists will be increasing, and the last summer can confirm it.
So, who visits Novosibirsk, where are these people from and why they come to the city?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Shinok Waterfalls

I was thinking about visiting Shinok waterfalls for a long time, but I read that it is not so easy to reach the waterfalls, as the path was not a simple one and it could be difficult with kids. Many stories about a hike there were written by travelers with kids and I thought it would be reasonable to wait a little for my sons to be older. But this summer  I thought we could at least try to do it, and after a hike to Multa lakes I got rid of my fears, so we did it!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Interesting places in Novosibirsk Region. Rocks on the Berd (Berdskiye Skaly)

Golden autumn is still with us, and the weather is so wonderful that one just cannot stay at home. My passion for travels captivated me again and the last weekend my husband, my sons and me were out most of the time exploring the surroundings of our city and enjoying the sun, the golden scenery and ourselves.
On Saturday, September 16, we were sunbathing and even swimming on one of the beaches of the town Berdsk, which is only 4 km away from Novosibirsk. The river Berd flows into the Ob there forming quite a big gulf.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Golden Autumn in Siberia

I've had pretty much interpreting and tour guiding work this week, but I just cant' help writing this blogpost about the beauty around me these days.
Now, when September has reached its middle point, it's golden Autumn here and this expression is no exaggeration. There's gold everywhere, in all city parks, streets, all around me in Novosibirsk and outside.
I can't say that autumn is my favourite season, I don't have any favourite season so far, but this period is definitely the brightest and among one of the most picturesque and beautiful ones.
The weather has been perfect the whole week, about 15 degrees in the daytime, but the sun was as warm and bright as in the middle of the summer, so one could see girls in light dresses and men in T-shirts all around.
Now when I'm looking at it, I can say that the middle of September is the right time to visit Novosibirsk and other areas in Siberia with all these trees dressed in yellow, red and still green.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Altai. Multa (Multinskiye) Lakes

This summer we went to Altai Mountains again. I can never get bored of Altai, it's a fascinating, fantastic, wonderful region with so many attractions, that one can spend a life and don't see them all.

I was dreaming about visiting Multa Lakes for many years. The lakes are located in Ust-Koksa district of Altai Republic. This district is a near-border area, and one has to obtain a permit to enter it. This is not difficult at all, and takes only about an hour, but if you are a non-Russian citizen, you have to apply for the permit in about two months.

I didn't manage to visit the lakes in my youth, and it's still difficult for me, as my kids are not big enough to go on a many-days hiking tour. But fortunately, one doesn't have to make a long hiking tour to get there, it's possible to drive there, though not by every car. Not even all off-road cars can get there. The most typical vehicle delivering lazy tourists is of this kind:

Friday, 5 August 2011

Interesting places in Novosibirsk Region. Iskitim marble pit

Though the summer has been busy for me, I could always find some time for a small travel.
I've lived in Novosibirsk all my life, but I never knew there are so many interesting places there. It just never occurred to me to start exploring them earlier, but now when I'm a tour guide and eager to show my tourists the most curious and interesting places in my city and around it, I feel I just have to go and see them myself first.

A deserted marble pit by the town of Iskitim, which is about 50 km away from Novosibirsk, is one of the most amazing places I have ever seen.

A phenomenon of Russian datcha

A datcha is something all Russians know. Some hate it, some love it, some don't have it, but everyone has at least some experience with it. Mine is positive.
A datcha is a country house with a vegetable garden (for those who don't know), and what distinguishes it is that for many Russians it's a good additional income in the natural form. For some people in money form too, as many elderly ladies, suffering from low pensions and wishing to do something about it, sell many things they grow there, like cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, potatoes, raspberries, strawberries and a lot more.
For me and for my while family is much more than that, though having our own ecologically clean fruit, berries and vegetables alone is something, which makes all those troubles worth it.
For us datcha is also an opportunity to be in open air, at a distance from the city, and it's just a priceless opportunity for children to be in the nature the whole day, to go around bare-foot, to eat healthy things, to swin in the river and to enjoy themselves.
What is more, our datcha is on an island. The island is pretty big, and people started to build datchas there about 50 years ago. Our datcha was built by my granddad, and it's the best memory we have of him.
You can come to the island by boat only. Now many have modern boats with high-capacity motors, but many still have something like that:

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Interesting places in Novosibirsk Region. Bolotnoye and Turnayevo villages

Today I was looking through new threads at Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum and again I came across an opinion that Novosibirsk and Novosibirsk Region are in a total lack of any interesting sights.
This is not true, of course, as people have inhabited this region for hundreds and even thousand of years, and a region with such a long history just cannot be that uninteresting. But it is true that you have to do some kind of work to find these interesting places here.
The first thing I recommend is to buy a guidebook. I did this some time ago and I was surprised to read about all these sights, both of natural and human origin.
I am lucky to have a husband and children who don't mind going on sightseeing tours, even if these tours involve somewhat long and tiresome driving.

On the way to Tomskaya Pisanitsa (
we decided to have a look at Bolotnoye settlement and a wooden church in Turnayevo village built in the end of the 19th century in the style of the famous churches in Kizhi.

Bolotnoye, situated somewhat 150 km to the north-east of Novosibirsk, turned out to be quite a big settlement with a couple of wooden buildings built in the end of the 19th - the beginning of the 20th century. I didn't take any pictures of them as there are quite a number of such houses in Novosibirsk.
The nature around Bolotnoye is very nice. We were there in the beginning of May, but now in June it should be even more beautiful.

 Turnaevo is located 12 km away from Bolotnoye, and I expected the road to be very bad, as the guidebook says there are only 60 houses in the village left. But I was wrong and the road was surprisingly good. When we arrived to the village, we thought that the village didn't look as deserted and poor as the guidebook says. And it definitely has more than 60 houses. Of course, the village is not prosperous and there are lots of destroyed houses and administrative buildings, but we expected it to be much worse.

The church is amazing. Again, the guidebook was wrong saying that it is nearly destroyed and no one takes care of it. The guidebook was released in 2005 and the situation changed a lot since then. The church does look nice and  taken good care of. The priest's house in front of it looks even better and richer. The churchyard is clean and it is evident that the village does want to care about its heritage.

And we liked the scenery around the village even more than the church. This place could be the right one for a small camping or something like that, with the church as the main attraction.

I do hope that more visitors will wish to see this place, it is definitely worth it.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Tomskaya Pisanitsa

Recently I have discovered one more attraction not far from Novosibirsk, which is definitely worth  visiting and spending the whole day there. I read about it some time ago, but it was only a week ago when we made the tour. Now I include this tour into the program I offer and recommend to my tourists and to all visitors of Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Kemerovo.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Bald peaks of Bugotak (Bugotakskie sopki)

Recently I've received an inquiry from a potential client, who is going to go on a sightseeing tour of Novosibirsk and who wishes to see the bald peaks of Bugotak after that. Though they are only 70 km away from the city, I never visited them as a destination and never had a chance to explore them in detail. So I didn't think long, and the last weekend I told my family we were going to see the bald peaks and maybe to have a small hike.

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Ob River

Trying to describe Novosibirsk it would be strange not to write anything about the Ob River.The river is much spoken of, and if widely famous among those who lives in Siberia or has ever come here.
This river is one of the great Russian Rivers, which are known to practically all people of the world who have studied geography at school.
 Here's what Wiki says about the river: The Ob forms 16 miles (26 km) southwest of Biysk in Altai Krai at the confluence of the Biya and Katun rivers. Both these streams have their origin in the Altay Mountains, the Biya issuing from Lake Teletskoye, the Katun, 700 kilometres (430 mi) long, bursting out of a glacier on Mount Byelukha. The Ob zigzags west and north until it reaches 55° N, where it curves round to the northwest, and again north, wheeling finally eastwards into the Gulf of Ob, a 600-mile (970 km)-long bay of the Kara Sea, which adjoins the Arctic Ocean.
Read more here: 
 It's a shame for me to say that I've seen only the beginning of the river in Altai Mountains, and what the river looks like in Novosibirsk and about 30 km to the north, but I've never seen it closer to the Arctic Ocean.  

When you look at rivers Biya and Katun in Altai mountsins at their very beginnings, you can never imagine that those typically mountain streams turn into a great flow.
The Biya flows out of Teletskoye Lake. It is furious in early spring and almost a valley river in late summer and in autumn.
River Biya by Artybash settlement, Altai Mountains
Katun is of a different kind. Taking its beginning by Belukha mountain, Katun together with its tributary Chuya remains an attractive thing for rafters from all over the world. It makes more bends than Biya and it has more rifts. Its color is white-grey in spring and summer and close to emerald in autumn.

Both rivers join together about 30 km to the north of the town of Biysk and form the Ob. It's navigable from that place on. In Altai it's only possible to move along by rafts and motor-rafts. A rafting tour in Altai will be a unique and extraordinary experience.

In Novosibirsk the Ob is about 600-700 m wide depending on the season. It is shallow in late autumn and deep and powerful in spring. Real floods are rare, but if we happen to have a snow-rich winter in Altai and in our region, some places and datchas (summer houses with vegetable gardens) may be flooded. This happened in summer 2010 when the gardens which lie low were full of water and people had no chance to plant something there.

Several bridges cross the river in Novosibirsk. currently there are two traffic bridges, two railway bridges and one metro bridge. The third traffic bridge is about to be open.
Numerous beaches along the banks make the place attractive in summer. Though many people don't think the water is clean enough for bathing, others still do it.

Metro bridge over the Ob

Swimming fountain with traffic bridge

Cruise ship
In the middle of the 50-s it was decided to create a reservoir and a hydroelectric power station in Novosibirsk. Several villages were destroyed to do this, but now we have a place which we call the Ob Sea. For us who live far from any natural sea this place is a nice one, with numerous beaches, summer resorts and campings all along it.
The reservoir and the power station at the background

The same as the river, the reservoir is frozen in winter, and it's quite attractive for cross-country skiing with its even surface and pure snow.

The river remains frozen until somewhat middle March, unlike the reservoir which remains under ice until as late as middle April. Both places are popular among fishermen.
The Ob in middle March
I will add information and photos later on, as there is definitely much more to tell about the Ob.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Altai. Teletskoye Lake

Somehow I can't stop writing about Altai. Perhaps I would write about Caucasus if I lived close to Caucasus, or about the Alps, if I lived there.
But I happen to live in Siberia and one of its main attractions is Altai.
Today I'll write about Teletskoye Lake.
It's the biggest and the deepest lake in Altai.
Situated at a height of 434 m above sea level, the lake is 78 km long and 5 km wide. Its surface area is 233 km²; however, due to its considerable depth (325 m), the lake contains no less than 40 km³ of fresh water. The lake transparency is high, with the visibility of the lake water ranging from six to fourteen meters. The water temperature is no more than 8-10 degrees C in summer, but there are small bays where it can be up to 15-17 degrees C warm, thus it's possible to bathe there.

Here's what Wiki says about Teletskoye Lake:

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Altai Mountains, November 2010

I started dreaming of the next Altai travel as soon as came back from there in the end of August. Altai is able to capture you, perhaps the same way as all mountains do.
November 4-7 is a public holiday in Russia and everyone can enjoy some days-off. Unfortunately the weather is usually dull-gray within this period. It's late autumn, no leaves on trees, sometimes it snows, sometimes it just freezes, but sometimes we are lucky to have relatively warm and sunny weather.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Altai Mountains, Chuya Road and surroundings. Conclusion.

Hello, everybody reading my blog.
I'm finally up to writing the last part of the story about our Chuya Road travel.
And it is just the right time to finish the story as spring is already here and I'm packing my backpack for the next tour, not knowing yet where we'll go.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Altai Mountains, Chuya Road and surroundings. Part 4

In the end of the previous part of my story
I said we were going to see the the Northern-Chuya mountain range. And we did it. We saw many other amazing sights too.
It's just unbelievable that all these things are less than 1000 km away from Novosibirsk. This distance is not large, if we remember the total dimensions of Russia.
But when one comes to those remote places, one feels as if one would be in another world or even on another planet.

Novosibirsk in pictures.

I'm no good at photography. Unfortunately.
But fortunately there are people who are extremely good at it.
And fortunately some of them live and work in my home city and they make really good pictures.

In the blog of one of them, Slava Stepanov, a young but talented artist, you can see amazing pictures of Novosibirsk, Novosibirsk Region and some other destinations.

I've stolen one of the pictures of Novosibirsk to show it to you here, and the rest you'll find in the artist's blog below:

Novosibirsk from a helicopter:

Academgorodok from a helicopter:

The photographer's website:

Monday, 21 February 2011

Altai Mountains, Chuya Road and surroundings. Part 3

After some time of silence I'll continue my story, the second part of which can be found here: Hope I'll be able to finish it by August when, hopefully our next Altai travel  is going to happen.

Having left Kur-Kechu camping we went on our travel along the Chuya Road, in the direction of the border with Mongolia.
The day was wonderful! The sun was shining in the clear sky. It was a bit cold in the morning, but it's typical for mountains.
In a small village called Inya we bought a big sack of potatoes, carrots, cucumbers and onions for as cheap as a bottle of vodka. Unfortunately the locals are addicted to drinking, and all travelers should be aware of that.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Altai Mountains, Chuya Road and surroundings. Part 2

I've been pretty silent for nearly a month.
A lot of work...
But the sun is shining brighter and brighter and it's the right time to start planning the next travel.
And to remember the past summer, of course.

Well, I started to describe our Altai travel here:
And I stopped on Seminsky Mountain Pass.
So I'll continue.
Seminsky Pass is high, 1700 m over the sea level, the road to the top of it and down is almost straight, hardly any bends, so it's not so easy to get on top even by an off-road vehicle. But the way down the pass is quite easy.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Ice and snow wonders in Novosibirsk

The festival of ice and snow figures is already a good tradition in Novosibirsk. This event traditionally takes place in the central city park each January 8-13 and attracts artists from different cities of Russia and even from abroad.
Snow should be quite solid, so about two weeks before the festival it is put into big wooden boxes and pressed.
Sometimes artists have to work in rather severe conditions, as the average temperature in January is about -20 here, and this year it was about -30 the day the festival started.
Unfortunately snow is a fragile substance and sometimes figures get a little destroyed just after they are made.
After the figures are built, they remain in the park for about 1 week and then get completely destroyed. And only the pictures remind us of this wonder.

 This year's winner. This figure is called Energy. I made this photo on Friday, the 14th, and on Saturday, the 15th it was already somewhat destroyed (a couple of rays were missing)..

 Best Friends.
 My Fish. As far as I remember, it was made by people from Kazakhstan.
 Somewhat abstract figure. But looks amazing.
 Buddha and monkeys. Made by Altai artists.
 This one took the 2nd prize.
 Don't know what it means, but I liked this most of all.

Young artists can also participate in the event. And their works are as interesting and beautiful, as those made by adult masters.
 It is a real happiness for me to see that this nice thing was made by the children from the school where I studied.
A character from a popular modern Russian cartoon.

I hope you like the pictures. It is a real pleasure for citizens and guests of our city.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Siberian Birch Bark Museum

The museum of birch bark crafts in Novosibirsk is unique.
It claims to be the only one of that kind in the world.

In it a visitor enjoys the vast collection of pictures, figures, decorations and even icons, all of them made of birch bark in Novosibirsk and in other cities and regions. Most of them are new, but some were made several decades and even centuries ago.

The collection is amazing! Some figures are so strikingly complex that one just can't imagine how the artist was creating them. It is not an exaggeration to say that all pieces are masterpieces.

As it is a purely Russian style of arts and crafts, the most pieces represent characters from Russian fairy tales. All those wood goblins (called Leshiy in Russian), Baba Yagas, wood spirits (lesovichoks), sauna spirits (banniks) and so on. There are many objects of worship, some kind of amulets kept in the house or worn as decorations. Even icons can be seen and bought here, blessed by the Russian Orthodox Church.
A lot of objects reflecting lifestyle in an old Russian village.
There is even an 18+ hall, skillfully hidden behind a plain door, so ask your guide or a museum officer to open it for you!

Some simple things can be bought in the museum shop, and larger objects can be ordered from the aetist.
I recommend visiting this museum to all guests of Novosibirsk! It is small, so the tour won't take you more than 1 hour.

The museum has two exhibition halls, located ul. Sverdlova 21, and ul. Gorkogo 18, each of them in the historical downtown, close to the main attractions.