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Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts

Free Skiing In The Urban Ruins Of Industrial Russia

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The concrete and steel scaffolding of cities has long provided a playground for skateboarders, parkourists, stunt cyclists, and now skiers.

The hardcore Finnish free-ski stylists of the group Nipwitz have stormed the urban landscapes of Northern and Eastern Europe and made them into an insane and fabulous laboratory for their particular brand of renegade sport.

Their most recent video shows a trip that they made to Russia’s Murmansk Oblast, a bizarre and contradictory universe of pristine mountains and industrial wasteland beyond the Arctic Circle.

“One of the first things we noticed here,” says one of the group in idiosyncratic English, “was the surreal contrast between the beautiful Arctic nature and the rottening cityscapes that have suffered from decades of neglection.” Some areas are so polluted that trees can no longer grow there.

In the remote city of Kandalaksha, the Nipwitz crew soars through windows of abandoned buildings, turns high concrete walls into half-pipes, slides down snow-packed staircases, survives an encounter with a knife-wielding man in an army uniform, and gives bored local teenagers something to talk about for many years to come.

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Wakeboarding... Russian Style

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...in the country of eternal frost and snow-covered streets where bears roam, the word "prohibited" means "challenge accepted"...

...check out nine-time Russian wakeboarding champion Nikita Martyanov battling the icy cold waters of the St. Petersburg canals and producing some stunning imagery. Courtesy of , who else but, Red Bull...

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AA-12 Fully Automatic Shotgun aka "Professional Russian"

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Other than shooting Nerf Guns with my son, I haven't shot anybody anything for a long time.

In 2009 the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest closed several roads on the I-90 corridor to target shooters because of "a serious public safety concern”. Since then it's been tough to find spots to practice target shooting close to home.

Lucky for Russians, they don't have this problem. There, you can shoot wherever you want, whoever you want, and whatever you want :

Only in Russia: Snowmobiling on water

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Only in Russia, and only Red Bull could come up with this incredible stunt :
Rider of Red Bull team, Daniel Bodin, went to St. Petersburg, Russia, to take a spin on the Neva River.

The phrase 'Russian winter' may bring to mind images of tall fur hats, snowcovered gold church domes, and steaming bowls of borscht. And some people think that winter in Russia is 12 months long...That's probably what the Swedish rider thought when he took his Polaris to St. Petersburg ...in August:

Radioactive tourism: Chernobyl is open for tours

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People will pay money to see "weird things" like : bearded woman, half-man/half-alligator, Auschwitz,abundant prisons, swamps, catacombs/caves, cult/occult places, and even the world's most notorious nuclear power plant, Chernobyl.

I've read about "unofficial tours" of land surrounding the Chernobyl plant long time ago, and knew that some day it would eventually become "an attractive tourist destination".

At first it was mostly people looking for "mutants". In fact some animals and foliage have passed on some traits of genetic mutation caused by the incident, but according to the scientists they never resembled the monsters described in the media and all died out quickly.

Now it is one of Ukraine's most visited sites. Roughly 6,000 tourists—most of them Europeans—stream through this area annually on private tours unsanctioned by the authorities. But starting this year, the government is also looking to cash in on the plant's notoriety, with plans to open up the zone to official tours, as well as boost its safety by building a giant concrete shell to encase the reactor by 2015.

The Ukrainian town of Pripyat, which is just miles from the nuclear power plant, is The Ghost Town and the highlight of the tour. The town is an eerily mundane time capsule, buried in dust and left almost exactly as it was when its roughly 50,000 inhabitants were forced to flee in 1986. The long aluminum fence and barbed wire surrounds the town and opens its doors only to workers and to small groups of tourists interested in how the world would look like if all people would have disappeared in one moment.

After the four-hour tour and a prison-style meal, visitors stand on a contraption that looks like a time machine. If it flashes green—no radiation—then you are good to go. On your way out of the exclusion zone, you (and your vehicle) must go through a similar radiation x-ray of sorts.

But the radiation is still here : invisible, odorless, tasteless, it permeates the buried buildings, cars and cattle, the earth that covers them, the rivers that flow nearby. And it will do so for a long time to come...

Interested ? Have fun ! - Chernobyl and Pripyat tours

My Adventures in Russia-Part III (The Western Siberia)

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My last stop was my home town Noviy Urengoy. The famous Siberia.The land of snow and exiles.The never ending reservoirs of natural gas and oil. The real Mother Russia.

Novyy Urengoy (New Urengoy), sometimes called the Dallas of Siberia, is located 80 km south of the Arctic Circle near the confluence of the rivers Yevoyakha and Sedeyakha. The winters here last up to 9 months.The average temerature -40 C. The area has frozen ground (permafrost) and tundra.The Nenets and Khants people are an indigenous tribes that have long survived in this region.

The oil and gas industry is the leading economic sector, with a 93% share in total industrial production. More than 90% of Russia's natural gas and 12% of its oil are produced here.

But exploration of the huge oil and gas fields on the Yamal peninsula has damaged reindeer habitat and destroyed fishing, threatening the longstanding self-sufficiency of the Nenets and Khants people, whose traditional occupations have been reindeer raising, fishing, and fur trapping.Till now this people lead the same way of life as their ancestors.

Russia is considered by the World Tourism Organization a country with great potential for tourism development. Figures cited by tourism experts showed that 70 percent to 80 percent of the 3.5 million foreign tourists that came to the country rarely ventured farther than Moscow, St. Petersburg and perhaps the Golden Ring. So, if you really want to get a taste of Russia, come here, the Real Siberia.

Reindeer sledding,ice fishing,bear hunting,arctic night camping are among things to do here.

My Adventures in Russia- Part II (Kursk )

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My next stop was a small provincial town Kursk ( the capital of black earth (chernozem) belt ). Kursk is about 280 miles south of Moscow ( about 8 hours by train ).This town has vary rich historic routs. Archaeology indicates that the site of Kursk was settled in the fourth or fifth century B.C. The first written record of Kursk is dated 1032.Kursk was a key turning point of the Russian-German war during World War II and the site of the largest tank battle in World War II (widely believed by historians to have been the largest tank battle in history).The modern city is a home for several religious attractions : Cathedral of the Sign, Sergievsko-Kazansky Cathedral, Korennaya Pustyn . The Command Station Bunker & Museum was built specifically in memorial of the courageous Russian T-34 tank units that fought in the Battle of Kursk, where a T-34 tank is on display.
The famous T-34

"Katyusha "- just like in that song

The monument to the crew of the "Kursk" nuclear-powered submarine
Even if you are not a history buff, you will feel like you have traveled in time ( sometimes it does feel like civilization hasn't reached certain parts of Russia ).But, besides sightseeing, there isn't much you can do in this town ( unless you consider drinking vodka an activity.(For some Russians it is an activity )). In winter this town does offer some great XC skiing ( feel like skiing when its -30 C ? ) and in summer great camping ( by camping, I mean drinking till you pass out under night stars ( very romantic ).

My adventures in Russia-Part I (Moscow )

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Though this site is suppose to be about Washington state and its outdoor activities (and sights) , once in a while its good to get out of the state to see other places.This month I went back home to Russia.

The Red Square

Nowadays when the iron curtain is down and there is no more "communist threat", more and more Americans can travel to this mysterious and unknown country. For most, their journey starts in Moscow. I won't write too much about my stay in Moscow. Today you can find lots of travel information about any place in the world. I will just share my insights about this town. 

Moscow is a big, ugly, messy, but beautiful and , I would even say, spiritual city. Moscow is classic Russia – a mix of nouveaux riches in expensive sports cars and street hustlers looking for wallets. The main attraction ( and some ,may say, the only one ) is ,of course, the Red Square-the Kremlin,Lenin's mausoleum,St Basil's cathedral,Czar-bell,Czar-cannon and many more monuments are all here.To the east is the KGB museum and to the west is the open-air art market along Old Arbat, Moscow's most famous street.Great thing about Moscow attractions- most of them are withing walking distance or a short ride in the world's most beautiful subway ( which is an attraction of its own ). 

The Lenin's mausoleum

The Famous Moscow Metro

Just like any other capitol of the world Moscow can't be seen in one day or even one week. And the best way to see this town ( and what is even more important -to understand it ) is with a native English speaking friend.

You didn't experience Russia, if you didn't experience Russian hospitality. If you stay with a Russian host , chances are , you won't even have to go to a restaurant. Russians will feed you and treat you to ( guess what ?) vodka till you get sick ( and you will get sick- its impolite to refuse treats or gifts in Russia ). 

Oppose to Russian hospitality and generosity, you will get another feeling. 
One of the Russian distinctive characteristics - Russians don't smile a whole lot.That's why sometimes you feel like you being mistreated. Its not quite true. Once a Russian gets to know you a little better ( especially knowing that you are a foreigner), you can become best friends. But it doesn't mean you can trust anybody. The most common crimes in Moscow are not robberies , but street scams. So the best ( and safest ) way to travel around to Russia is if you personally know somebody there.

Many faces of Russia