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Entries about russia


On the doorstep of Europe

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

This beautiful city is one of our favourites so far.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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

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

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.


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)

TRIP HAZARD #2: Scourge of the Russian outdoors - the Gadfly

Otherwise known as bastard, bloody bastard or f-----g bastard

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

One thoroughly unenjoyable part of travelling through Russia is a particularly nasty not-so-little bastard, the gadfly, also known as the horsefly or botfly.

Simply put, these bloody things are BASTARDS. And big bastards at that, probably up to 40mm long.


Stop almost anywhere, from the Steppes to the vast forests of Siberia, to idyllic Lake Baikal for even a few seconds and these bastards will find you and will bite you. They are even capable of biting through clothing, the t-shirts we wore under out jackets proved absolutely no barrier if our jackets were open or we had removed them when we stopped due to the heat.

The only items of clothing that thwarted their nasty little efforts were our Resurgence jeans (chew on a bit of Kevlar you bastard) and our jackets.

The bastards seemed to have a particular fondness to my bald head. I mean, REALLY. The indignity of it.

We were carrying insect repellent, in my case a can of Bushman, which worked to some degree but were not 100% effective at keeping the bastards away - at least not for very long.

Poetic justice dictated that gadflys provided many, many enjoyable and highly satisfying moments on the trip, one of the bastards splattered all over our screens or visors. God that felt good!

Our recommendation - wear a beekeepers outfit under your bike gear - problem solved even if you will look ridiculous.

Posted by stevecrownz 09:00 Archived in Russia Tagged russia outdoors siberia gadfly Comments (0)

We Regress to being Varsity Students

Accommodation in Tomsk

sunny 30 °C
View Ride Europe - East to West on Zamiam's travel map.

Steve has developed a friendship with a Geology professor from a university in Tomsk over the last four years, Alexey, who very generously provided us accommodation in Tomsk and was waiting outside when we arrived. Alexey cannot speak English so translate apps on smart phones got well used.


Below are photos of the excellent accommodation provided which is normally used for students.

Entrance to the property is by security gates so no worries about the bikes.


Entrance to the building is via a security door that would do Fort Knox proud.


Entrance Foyer and Lift


Foyer and passage on our floor


Our apartment door is also made of steel and very secure, just look at that lock. As for the key ...


Inside we were fortunate to have a full kitchen, dining area, large living and a bedroom for Steve. I got to sleep on the pullout this time which I guess was only fair after Vladivostok.


So overall we were in luxury.

Alexey and his wife Jane have also very graciously acted as our guides and showed us Tomsk as well as hosting us in their home for dinner. A more welcoming couple would be hard to find. We hope that we can return the hospitality in NZ one day.

Posted by Zamiam 12:38 Archived in Russia Tagged russia siberia as_the_crow_flies tomsk Comments (0)

Sights of Ulan Ude -2

overcast 26 °C
View As the Crow Flies Russia 2019 on stevecrownz's travel map.

Write-Up Coming soon - meanwhile here are some pics to enjoy.

Datsan Rinpoche Bagsha

Monument to Lenin - at 7.7m the largest Lenin head monument in the world.

Music Fountain

Monument to Checkhov

Monument to Verkhneudinskiy Kupets

Holy Odigitrievsky Cathedral

Datum Point of Siberia

Around the streets of Ulan Ude

Posted by stevecrownz 09:46 Archived in Russia Tagged buildings crow russia siberia carr buryat uluan_ude Comments (1)

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