A weekend well spent

Novosibirsk Travel Blog

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When I told people at home I was going to spend the summer in Siberia, they looked at me as if I`d finally completely lost my mind, and pressed me to bring warm clothes and a winter coat. I tought of this as I was sitting on the beach on an island in the Ob sea, watching some of my friends (and our neighbours for the day) play a Russian variant of volleyball (played in a circle) in the water next to our boat, merrily splashing about. Someone came by on waterskis. I`d had to put a T-shirt on as my shoulders were allready red. If only they could see me now! I was so mesmerised (sp?) by this little scene of perfection that I was surprised when Julia, the director of our department, interupted my train of thought to bring me my chicken shashlik (small pieces of barbecued meat on a stick), and for a moment not able to utter much more tham "da".

That morning, 25 of us (teachers and family members, and foreign students - a bunch of Koreans, a German, an American and me - and 2 Russian students) had set off on a boat from Akademgorodok. We talked (I found out I can have a simple converstion in Russian all right), made sandwiches, drank beer and lemonade, and watched the fishes and the scenery. After a few hours we set ashore, and swam, played in the water, enjoyed the sunshine, ate and drank some more (Russia`s favourite pasttime, yet few are overweight, which must be because they walk a lot, too), and sang or listened to Russian songs. The water was really warm, which is great when you want to swim, but not so great when you want your beer to be cold.

On sunday I set out for the centre of Novosibirsk. It`s a very pleasant city, especially considered its size, but not particularly beautiful, with a few exceptions like the theatre on Lenin square. It`s also very young, only 111 years!

Today I visited the local studies museum, which had some interesting things, but was rather small. It covered the history of the area from prehistory (that was probably the most interesting part, with a skeleton and burial gifts shown as they were found, replicas of cave paintings, and even a boat) to the 20th century (that part focused on the theatre and music, mainly showing photographs and programs, which could have meant something to me had I recognised anyone); as well as indigenous cultures of Siberia. Like the botanical garden and the geological museum in Akademgorodok, it was all in Russian. Besides this it was not all that well laid out; the part about indigenous peoples in the late 19th and early 20th century (they sure had nice clothes!) was placed between prehistory and the middle ages, which were followed by another exhibit on late 19th/early 20th century (this part mainly focusing on arts and crafts). Also except for a pair of shackles it left the dark side of Siberian history completely untold.

Afterwards I sat and walked in the park, and looked for some English- or German-language novels. I had no succes then, but thanks to my Spanish classmate Ana I found some in Akademgorodok the next day. I wanted to take a peak inside the Alexander Nevsky-cathedral as well, but as I approached the entrance I saw many people going in, crossing themselves on the steps, so there must`ve been a service going on (with all the shops open, one tends to forget that it`s sunday).

One more week here, and then I am off to even further horizons! I won`t have learned anything more than very basic Russian, but I do feel ready to move on, and can`t wait to finally see lake Baikal, the object of many a daydream since years. Mnye nravitsa Sibir! (I like Siberia)

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Obskoj More
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photo by: rostovcat