Thursday, July 26, 2012

Karelian Vacation

As this Russia trip winds down its final week, I'm off to take in a new part of the country - Karelia. I took an overnight train from Moscow two nights ago to Petrozavodsk. I'm here as a guest of a friend and fellow UNC grad student, Cassandra, who just arrived here to begin some field research.

The city is relatively small, in many regards not too different from most regional centers in Russia. It's located a 5-6 hour train ride NE from Petersburg, in the part of Russia that, from a natural standpoint, is much like Finland.

The city itself is on the shores of a large lake, Onega, and there are literally tens of thousands of others in the region.

Also, as you might imagine, there are many birch trees (not pictured).

The people speak Russian, although some have heritage in the local Karelian culture, which is very similar in language to Finnish, although it ended up on the Russian side of the border in various 20th century border shifts.

Mostly it's cool, rainy, with long days and short nights. The sun goes down about 11:30 right now and is up again around 4:30. This all lends itself to taking walks along the lake when the weather is nice.

And staying inside to drink coffee when it is not. Which is a large reason for today's blog post.

The rest of the next few days will be, I imagine, spent much the same way, although there is a rafting trip in the works for Saturday and a few other adventures, weather permitting.

Updates and last post before departing for home to come soon!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stavropol Post 1.1

There's not a whole lot to add about my stay here. The work in the archives has been pretty fruitful. I've found a few places, like a decent coffee house, in which to hang out. I've taken several long walks and runs around the city.

A couple of pictures, just for fun. One thing that has been different is the weather. I guess that, having read one too many reports from Soviet bureaucrats complaining about the regular droughts in the region (parts of it get drought as many as 2-3 out of every five years), I expected Stavropol' itself to be dry, hot, and dusty. In fact, that's night the case at all, since it is in the wetter, western part, and is at a higher elevation.

I didn't bring an umbrella with me from Moscow and then it proceeded to rain, summer late-afternoon thunderstorm style, for something like ten days straight. Luckily, I was saved by the waterproof jacket I brought along.

Here's what one of the storms looked like, from the window of my hostel room:

And the room itself, too:

It's not big, but it has a refrigerator and a fairly comfortable bed. I've no reason to complain.

In any event, I'm leaving Stavropol' in a couple of days time, to be nomadic again for a bit: I'll be back in Moscow for a few days, off to visit a friend in Karelia, and then back to Moscow just in time to catch my plane back to the US!