In Ekaterinburg we went to the border of Asia and Luba told us a fairy story about a lizard with gold. We stayed in Valentina’s apartment – it was so nice, there was a playground outside- we had pasta for dinner.
On out visit to the Asia – Europe border Luba told us many stories which were very interesting.
One was a true story about ten students who were in the forest in the winter lots of years ago. One of them got sick and went back to the city so that left nine. The students died but they have never found out why – they were found away from their tent and were not in their warm clothes so they must have got really scared to leave their tent so quickly. When the doctors looked at them they didn’t see any cuts or scratches but inside their tummy organs were all jumbled up. It has been a big mystery and is still not solved.
In Ekaterinburg we stayed at an apartment owned by Valentina.
On the first day she took us to a butterfly park which was completely in a building. There were emus, birds, turtles and goats, even pigs and they lived totally inside a building. It was a bit sad for some of them because they were in small cages. We could feed the animals.
Luba told us a fairy story about a lady living in the forest. She owned lots of special stones and jewels. People often came up the mountain to find the jewels but she turned into a lizard with a gold crown when they did. One day there was a man who came into the forest to find the lady to ask for some jewels but she turned into a lizard and the man caught her but no one had ever caught her before so she gave him some jewels for his fiancée. She told him to never tell anyone about her and to never think about her. However the man didn’t end up getting married because he couldn’t stop thinking about the lady in the forest. He kept trying to go back to look for her but he could never find her. One day he kept wandering in the bush and was never found again. He went a bit mad. Not a very happy ending.
One funny thing that happened when we were in Yekaterinburg was that we planned to meet Valentina outside the big church with the gold roof not knowing that there were lots of churches with gold roofs! Poor possum had to run across town cause we were at the wrong one. This is a picture of the church of the blood with some blood from a tsar in its foundations. Women had to cover their heads to enter!
On our last day in Yekaterinburg we had a tour to the Asia-Europe border with a wonderful woman called Luba who runs an excellent guide business called ‘Yekaterinburg for you’ – you can look it up on Facebook if ever visiting. She had an amazing wealth of knowledge about the local area of Russia and also broader history etc. We just bombarded her with questions to start with – though she also was wonderful at keeping the children amused and telling them fairy tales and other interesting and bizarre (which the kids love) mysteries. We brushed up on our knowledge of Lenin & Stalin and intrigued at the heroism of one and the distancing from the latter. Also interesting to hear how Russian towns changed names so often and that Volgograd was called Stalingrad till 1991 but then changed back to its ‘river name’ and was pretty much the last place to honour Stalin with his name.
Of course the tsar history pre revolution is enthralling though we needed another few days with Luba to really get our heads around that apart from Peter and Catherine the Great since Yekaterinburg was named after Catherine and we were going to St. Petersburg next. This next photo is of an amazing building in the city that was built because in the gold rush they had so much money they didn’t know what to do with it – it is now one of the many residences of Putin.
Despite the rain we all enjoyed being in two continents at once and also playing intercontinental frisbee!
There’s a special love heart on the border as there are so many people who have their wedding photos there. We love any excuse to grose the kids out!
We got to go to the closest border 17kms away and then another forest border about 40kms away – we found that one a bit eerie cause the stories Luba had just told us about the political prisoners sent to Siberia in chains were still fresh in our minds. The prisoners used to have to walk in chains across Russia to Siberia – obviously many not making it cause it is such a long way and doing it in chains and bad weather would be incredibly difficult.
Anyway – when they got to this border many of them would break down and cry knowing that they would most likely never see Europe again. Tragic!