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Ekaterinburg

On the doorstep of Europe

semi-overcast
View As the Crow Flies Russia 2019 on stevecrownz's travel map.

This beautiful city is one of our favourites so far.

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Ekaterinburg is known for the golden-domed Church on the Blood, built in the early 21st century on the site of the 1918 Romanov executions, Ipatiev House.

The Russian Imperial Romanov family (Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei) and all those who chose to accompany them into imprisonment—notably Eugene Botkin, Anna Demidova, Alexei Trupp and Ivan Kharitonov, were shot and bayoneted to death in Ekaterinburg (Yekaterinburg) on the night of 16–17 July 1918.

The epoch of the monarchic Russia ended and the epoch of the Soviet Russia began.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Execution_of_the_Romanov_family for more information.

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This red room is situated where the basement of Ipatiev House was previously located. It was in this basement that the murders of the Romanov family took place.
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After the murders, their bodies were then taken to the Koptyaki forest where they were stripped and mutilated. In 1979 and 2007, the remains of the bodies were found in two unmarked graves in a field called Porosenkov Log.

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Ganina Yama was a 9 ft. deep pit in the Four Brothers mine near the village of Koptyaki, 15 km north from Yekaterinburg. In the pre-dawn hours of 17 July 1918, after the execution of the Romanov family, the bodies of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family (who had been murdered at the Ipatiev House) were secretly transported to Ganina Yama and thrown into the pit.

A week later, the White Army drove the Bolsheviks from the area and launched an investigation into the fate of the royal family. An extensive report concluded that the royal family's remains had been cremated at the mine, since evidence of fire was found and charred bones, but no bodies. But the Bolsheviks, realizing that the burial site was no longer a secret, had returned to the site the night after the first burial to relocate the bodies to another area. The secret Bolshevik report on the execution and burial did not give the location of the second burial site, but the description provided clues.

Seven chapels were later constructed at the site, one for each member of the royal family. Each chapel is dedicated to a particular saint or relic; all members of the Romanov family that was murdered were subsequently canonized to sainthood.

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Posted by stevecrownz 13:23 Archived in Russia Tagged crow bmw russia customs vladivostok versys carr as_the_crow_flies 1200gsa Comments (3)

TRIP HAZARD #3: The Short Drop


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In New Zealand, and probably many, many other places around the world, in areas where there are no public sanitation systems toilets often comprise some some for 'seating / supporting arrangement' mounted over a deep hole dug into the ground to collect the aghhh, ummmmm, well you get the picture.

At home this is fondly called a 'Long Drop' for obvious reasons.

Now, Long Drops are rarely pleasant things to use but unless you opt to grab a torch or miner's helmet and peer down into the gloom the chances of being confronted by something left behind by a previous 'tenant, apart from a foul odour, is low.

In Russia, and in particular Siberia and the Eastern areas, they have brutalised the Long Drop and developed a particularly odious contraption, the Short Drop.

In its purest form, the Short Drop is simply a mounted platform raised 300 to 500mm off the ground with a hole cut in it for bodily wastes to pass through onto the nearly ground.

I have had the misfortune of needing to use (for number ones only thank god) short drops on a number of occasions and suffice it to say some were so absolutely rank and foul that I simply could not stay long enough to take any photographs. Oh, and forget European type thrones, we are talking squatters here folks.

Here is a BETTER one.

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These are typical of most road-houses / truck stops in Eastern Siberia.

Posted by stevecrownz 06:42 Archived in Russia Tagged crow bmw russia customs vladivostok versys carr as_the_crow_flies 1200gsa Comments (0)

Chita to Ulan Ude

sunny 32 °C
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Situated some 650km west of Chita is Ulan Ude, the Buryat capital is one of Eastern Siberia’s most likeable cities.

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Buryatia as the region encompassing Lake Baikal is known, is the homeland of the Buryats, a Mongolic people, numbering approximately 500,000, who are the largest indigenous group in Siberia.

I liked Ulan Ude; there is something about the place that seems to radiate friendliness. With its smiley Asian features, cosy city centre and fascinating Mongol-Buddhist culture, the Buryat capital is one of Eastern Siberia’s most likable cities. Quietly busy, welcoming and, after Siberia’s Russian cities, refreshingly exotic.

The ride from Chita was relatively 'easy' - long stretches of steppes interspersed with forested areas.

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As we have found with all the time estimates on Google Maps for the trip, add about 10%. It is impossible to maintain an average speed much in excess of 80kmh, often much less. Endless road works, slow traffic in built-up areas effectively kill the benefits of high-speed running on the good bits of road.

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At one of our stops along the way David took the opportunity to break out his DJI Mavic Air drone to catch a few shots, including John and I riding past.

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Roadside "cafe" with John and I gearing up to get on the road.

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Steve and John

Some shots from along today's ride.
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We elected to have a rest day in Ulan Ude so John booked a Buryat tour guide, a lovely lady called Anna

Posted by stevecrownz 06:37 Archived in Russia Tagged crow bmw russia ulan_ude versys carr buryat as_the_crow_flies 1200gsa chita Comments (0)

Vladivostok to Khabarovsk

rain 16 °C
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Sunday dawned wet when David, John and I loaded our panniers onto the bikes and headed north towards Khabarovsk.

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Julia, Oleg, Michael and Mary (J.O.M.M.?) had been staying with Oleg's brother in the northern outskirts of Vladivostok so they had taken the Delica home on Saturday night laden with all their luggage plus two sets of spare tyres and various other bits and pieces we three could not carry on the bikes. There was no point in them driving back into the city this morning so we had made plans to meet them along the route; the only stipulation being that they leave after us and always be behind us as our support vehicle.

Many of us have, at one time or another, watched one of those videos that keep popping up in our news feeds with titles such as 'WORLDS WORST DRIVERS CAUGHT ON TAPE". If you have, you probably noted that most of the footage seems to originate in Russia. OMG, now we see why. Russian drivers simply seem to love tempting fate - if they aren't downright suicidal. The results of two crashes seen today add to one seen yesterday, not bad for our first two days on Russian Roads.

Following is a selection of images from today's 750km ride, 90% of which was in the rain. We were all soaked to the skin by the time we arrived at our hotel in Khabarovsk.

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The three riders stopped on the roadside coming into Khabarovsk to download directions to our hotel and figure out the best way to get there when a young Russian guy riding a BMW R 1200R pulled over to see if he could assist. He later told us he thought we were locals when he first stopped but when we spoke English he offered to lead us to our hotel. His English was pretty good.

We arrive at our hotel in Khabarovsk
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We were all very tired at the end of what had been a pretty hard ride in testing conditions so we retired to our respective rooms for the night (although John admitted the next day that he had gone next door to the hotel and got KFC for dinner. Americans! David and I elected to get room service).

Mum, can you tell little brother to tidy our room!
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The next morning we split into three, John went off sightseeing with a local friend who owns the only two Tesla in Khabarovsk, JOMM went and met some friends of Oleg's from his school days here, and David and I went to breakfast with our new Russian friend, who put his details into my phone as "John Khabarovsk" - the guy who led us to our hotel the prior evening. He picked us up and we went to a nice cafe, he even insisted on paying and would not take no for an answer.

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David and 'John Khabarovsk' at breakfast.

Posted by stevecrownz 20:58 Archived in Russia Tagged crow bmw russia versys carr khabarovsk as_the_crow_flies 1200gsa Comments (0)

The first accident on the trip

And hopefully the last


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While putting the side-panels, handle-bars, crash-bars back on David's bike someone who shall remain nameless slipped and sprained/broke/fractured (not sure which) the pinky finger on his left (clutch hand).

I am reliably informed that it is somewhat painful.

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Fortunately medication in the form of cold beer has helped dull the pain; actually I am posting this because we thought these were pretty unusual beer glasses.

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Posted by stevecrownz 06:31 Archived in Russia Tagged crow bmw russia customs vladivostok versys carr as_the_crow_flies 1200gsa Comments (0)

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