11 May 2010

Krasnoyarsk Time Warp

We had problems finding our hotel in Krasnoyarsk.  Unfortunately we had simply decided to rely on the travel guide for the location, and didn’t check it up on the internet. It was 7am, we had barely any sleep on the train, and were desperate to unload our luggage,  so after wandering for half an hour to no avail we decided to try our luck at a place that seemed to be advertising accommodation.

We went in, and after some confusion in trying to communicate our situation, we ended up renting an apartment for two days (see picture).  I don’t know if it is common practice in Russia, but it was pretty easy to do.  1000 rouble deposit for the key, pay for two nights, sign a form and that was it.

The apartment proved difficult to find; it was a nine-story concrete block with about 6 different entrances.  The stairwell smelt awful (For days I tried to think of a word to describe it, but haven’t managed it yet), and we had a pink fluorescent tube lighting the hallway on our floor. Whenever we used the stairwell, Audrey held her breath and raced me up and down the stairs so as to avoid the stench.

It turned out to be another communist style apartment (we’d purposely kept our budget low so we didn’t get screwed over).  It was functional (platform toilet again), and another interesting experience.  No dodgy electrics this time, but I was being careful while plugging anything in.

Krasnoryark itself wasn’t a particularly interesting place, but its setting was better than most Russian places we’d been to so far (situated on the River Yenisei, and surrounded by mountains and cliffs).  The streets were filled with fake trees, and from about 10 in the morning until 8 in the evening, music was piped around the main streets (similar to what we seen in Bruges around Christmas).

On the second day, we got up quite early and headed for the hills.  The 30 minute bus journey cost us a paltry 10 roubles, about 23p, each.  The Stolbys were the local attraction, nestled at the top of the mountains (which weren’t too high).  They are basically large, rounded rocks sticking out of the mountains.

We started our ascent at 9:30, and it took us a couple of hours to get near the top, but by 10:30, we had already encountered people wandering back down.  We thought we got away in good time, but these guys must have set out at 7 to have got up, walked around the Stolbys, and come back down, and none of them looked like serious hikers. The Stolbys was still covered in knee-deep snow so the encephalitic-tick fear did not come into reality (phew!).

Our train out the next day was at 2:40pm, so on the third morning we got up at 10:30, left the apartment at about 11:30, and headed straight to a restaurant called Matrioschka, which had impressed us the previous day.  For 11:45, the placed was quite crowded, but we got a table, and ordered our food.  It cleared out quite soon afterwards; seems like the Russians like to lunch early.

We got to the train station about an hour early, and I went to look at the 'scoreboard', while Audrey took a couple of pictures outside.  Out train wasn’t on it, and the time read 11:43 Moscow Time (MT, remember all trains in Russia run on MT, our current city was MT+4).  I was somewhat puzzled, but it seemed like we were an hour late for the train.  I checked my phone, which confirmed I was an hour early by my time, but on checking the time zone, it was still on Perm (MT+2), the previous city we had been in.

It was then that we realised that the ‘mountaineers’ were not early risers, and that the Russians did not lunch stupidly early.  In fact, for the last three days we have been consistently living our life two hours behind the rest of Krasnoyarsk. Feck!

Luckily the next train – 9 hours later departing at 01:00am – still had spare seats. With a partial refund on our current tickets, it didn’t sting us too much, but what should we do in the meanwhile?  After a walk around and a drink, we headed back to Matrioschka for a third time (the waitress, who served us all three times, must have thought us weird).

We finally left Krasnoyarsk at 00:15am.


King prawn said...

I think you where happy to leave Krasnoyarsk. How was the fish Audrey? Can you add in some detail of the cuisine that you guys come across, always interested in other countries diets, especially with Audrey's eye/stomach for the exotic.

pok said...

I think I could write your blog...another long train journey...shit apartment...not very interesting city...and a feck up of some description!

How does that work?
P. xo

Unknown said...

Hey Paula, if I wrote that you'd give me serious hell for it, but it's all true. The feck up usually happens at a train station and you forgot meeting an old person who Stephen ignores and leaves to Audrey, and then a bit of hovering, as opposed to hoovering, at dodgy accommodation. How come you didn't visit any churches in this place or have you kopped they all look the same after a while.