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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

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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.


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)

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.


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.


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

Beginning at the End of the Line

Vladivostok Railway Station kilometer marker 9288

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Vladivostok Railway Station, just a few hundred metres from our hotel, in kilometre mark 9288 on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Moscow Railway Station being kilometre 0 and St Petersburg kilometre -680 (go figure, the poor people that live there are behind at the start!).

After the obligatory security screening and baggage x-ray, John, Oleg, David and I started wandering around inside the station taking photos and videos, some of which you see below, only to be approached and politely reprimanded by a young man who informed us that we required a guide if we were not in the station to actually catch a train. Of course there is a cost to the guide - 200 rubles each (about $5).

We were escorted back upstairs where we were handed very official looking passes to hand around our neck and the same young man instantly became our guide :-)

I was well worth the money. he pointed out a lot of things we would certainly have missed or at the very least not understood the significance of.

Vladivostok Railway Station

David admiring the architecture

Our guide pointing out the painted ceiling mural, with one side depicting Moscow and the other Vladivostok with associated dignitaries and VIPs from early 20th century Russia.

Vladivostok at the bottom, Moscow at top

Moscow bottom, Vladivostok top.


Apparently this says Ho Chi Minh visited the station on three occasions, 1924, 1927 and 1934.

We are really lucky to have David with us on the trip, he has figured out which way we need to go!

Posted by stevecrownz 06:03 Archived in Russia Tagged buildings people trains crow russia vladivostok versys carr as_the_crow_flies Comments (0)

The Primorskiy Aquarium

The jewel in the crown of Vladivostok

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The Primorskiy Aquarium is by far the best facility of its kind that I have seen ANYWHERE in the world. It truly is magnificent.

It is the third-largest aquarium complex in the world with a total interior space of 37,000m2.

The aquarium sits on Russky Island in beautifully manicured grounds with the main building designed to look like a slightly open mollusc shell.


Inside the place is just as impressive, with massive tanks and beautifully created exhibits. There is even a tropical rain forest hall!

The immaculate cleanliness of the whole place really stands out. Everything is spotless, not one hint of unwanted algae in any of the tanks - which is no mean feat and a huge statement to the way the place is run.


In addition to the displays, 3D holograms, animated models, tanks etc. the aquarium features a 'dolphinarium' within an 800-seat auditorium where we watched the most amazing shows with a mixture of awe and immense sadness (that such animals are in captivity). Two Beluga, 4 Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins and a Walrus trained to the highest levels.

IMG_20190627_150054.jpg IMG_20190627_145423.jpg

Beluga Show

Bottlenose Dolphins


I cannot recommend a visit highly enough but allow at least half a day. It is massive.

Posted by stevecrownz 05:11 Archived in Russia Tagged animals dolphin vladivostok beluga russky_island primorskiy_aquarium walrus Comments (0)

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