Week 4 in Russia: Yekaterinburg, Tula, Leo Tolstoy's Estate

Friday, June 26, 2015

My train from Kazan pulled into Yekaterinburg right on time at 12.37 pm last Saturday afternoon. Nevertheless, it was two hours later than I'd expected. I hadn't anticipated that the departure and arrival times written on my ticket would be according to Moscow time, rather than local. This wasn't an issue in Kazan, which is in the same time zone as Moscow, but created confusion for me regarding my arrival in Yekaterinburg, which is two hours ahead of Moscow. So, the arrival time written on my ticket was 10.37 am. They were right, of course. It was 10.37, in Moscow. 

The trip from Kazan had been pretty easy. We'd set off at around 8 pm (Moscow-time!) the previous evening and I was traveling in a sleeping compartment of four berths (called a kupeinii compartment), as opposed to going platskartny, which is an entire car of open-berth dormitory-style beds that can make you feel like you're riding in a mobile refugee camp.

Having fun on the train

Week 3 in Russia: Kazan, Ulyanovsk, Samara

Friday, June 19, 2015

Well, Borderheads, we meet again. This week has been spent in central Russia, a.k.a. the middle Volga region. More specifically, I've been hanging out in Kazan, Ulyanovsk, and Samara.

It's been fun, and at times exhausting--especially during those long bus rides down poorly maintained roads. In fact, I was feeling so beaten up at times that I was a little bit reminded of this video by Bi-2: 

Sure they're getting a bit long in the tooth, but Bi-2 can still rock

Nevertheless, it's been a good time. Here are some of the things I saw this past week: 

My take on the Turkish elections

Friday, June 12, 2015 

Note: this is an excerpt taken from another post 

Turkish Elections

The day of my departure for Kazan coincided with the holding of parliamentary elections in Turkey.

The big story was that, while the ruling AKP party still got the most votes at 41%, they lost their majority in parliament. This is important mainly because President Tayyip Erdoğan had been hoping to gain a "super-majority" that would allow the AKP to call a referendum putting new powers into the hands of the president. 

From the Turkish Daily Tattler

Week 2 in Russia: Nizhnii, Kazan, and my take on the Turkish election results

Friday, June 12, 2015

As usual, this has been a busy week in the Eurasian borderlands. The big story, of course, has been the Turkish elections from last Sunday (jump down to see my take on them), with the (premature, in my view) celebrations of President Erdoğan's political detractors capturing much of the media attention surrounding Turkey over the past week. 

Read the subtitles to learn how to say 'heave-ho' in Russian

Personally, this week has been a really pleasant and interesting one as I've continued my travels through the Volga region of central Russia. I'm currently nursing a pulled muscle in my thigh as a result of some serious stair-climbing that I was involved with back in Nizhnii, as well as some very sore feet. That's okay, though--it's playoff time, and everyone is hurting. 

In any case, below are some photographs and comments about my trip, as well as my observations regarding events taking place now in Turkey. 

On the Road in Russia: Week 1

Friday, June 5, 2015

On Saturday of last week I got up early, had a quick cup of tea and a poğaça, then grabbed a taxi to take me up the hill to the metro station en route to the airport. I was on my way to Russia.

Zemfira knows a thing or two about catching planes

My taxi driver was a guy called Şapka ("Cap"), so named, he claimed, due to his legendary comb-over. Şapka was visibly jealous when I told him my destination. "A young man like yourself should have a wonderful time there," he said wistfully, assuming that my visit had something to do with prostitutes. "Here you have to pay 300 Lira for the night." He opened the glove compartment to reveal an impressive stockpile of Viagra.