The other side of Yekaterinburg

I’m not a big fan of the “usual” tourist attractions. Sure, lots of them are very nice, but I’ve seen many, many houses of worship, museums, bridges, city walls, shopping malls etc. on my travels. And so I always quickly end up walking through the backstreets and outskirts.

Only there one can see the difference between tourists and locals, see how people live, where they go for shopping, if the national dish is really that popular, and much more. Quite often the truly interesting attractions aren’t listed as #1 on TripAdvisor. Sometimes the only difference between a city trip and an adventure are fifteen minutes of walking and three words of Russian 🙂

Two less famous sights of Yekaterinburg are located near the Geologitscheskaja (Геологи́ческая) metro station: The circus and the ruin of the TV tower.

The circus for 2600 spectators is still operating. The small rides in front of it have probably seen better times, though.

Who wouldn’t want to hop onto this very secure looking thrill ride 😉

The construction of the TV tower started in the 1980s. It was supposed to show the world what the Soviets were capable of, and depending on the source the planned height was between 360 and 440 meters. Ten laters later the Soviet Union had already collapsed, and the tower is now an investment ruin standing at 220 meters tall. I would have climbed to the top, but the entrance was sealed for good in 2000 after too many accidents due to illegal BASE jumping.

Some other buildings could probably also be seen as ruins, at least compared to central european standards…

Soviet architecture can still be seen everywhere. You can’t do much with concrete, steel and pre-fabricated modules, but the archtitects tried to be creative. The following two buildings were made from the same pre-facbricated modules, up to the small UFO at the top. It’s a bit like playing with LEGO 🙂

Some of the buildings are quite modern, but concrete is concrete.

And yes, Yekaterinburg also has its own World Trade Center!

The residents of these residential blocks probably only recognize their own building by looking at the store in the ground floor. The facades certainly can’t be used for orientation!

Yekaterinburg is quite green and has lots of smaller and larger parks, so there are lots of birds and other creatures.

A redwing is looking for food…

…and gulps down an entire earthworm only seconds later.

But the redwing isn’t the only one looking for food 😉

I was getting hungry as well, and this time I opted for Shawarma. Germans would probably recognize it as a turkish Yufka at the first look, but Shawarma is usually prepared with lamb or mutton meat. It is sold at every corner in Russia, the meat is put into a rather hard flatbread together with carrots and cucumbers. I’ve had better fast food before, but the price of just 100 to 120 Rubles (about two euros) is hard to beat.

I chose a can of strawberry flavoured MIO to go with the Shwarma. What’s so special about this drink? It is Russias first carbonated milk shake. I certainly wouldn’t have come up with the idea to carbonate a milk shake, and the taste was rather… interesting. But the experiment was worth the 45 Rubles (about 75 Eurocents) .

If you buy icecream in Russia, you don’t settle for a Magnum – you go for a Magnat 🙂

While I’m talking about buying things, where do the locals go for shopping? Nowadays there are supermarkets at every corner, but in the 1990s there were no shopping malls. So immigrants started selling cheap stuff from Asia at the Chinese Market. This market has later evolved into the Taganskii Rjad (Таганский ряд), a huge commercial area with multi-storey shopping malls filled with hundreds of tiny stalls.

Bogatto Jeans? Must be one of these new luxury brands!

The Taganskii Rjad wasn’t very interesting for my taste, most stalls just sell the usual clothes and I had already known the concept from many markets in Asia. If you are looking for something more authentic, leave the tram two stations before Taganskii Rjad and have a look at the Verh-Isetskij Rynok (Верх-Исетский рынок).

According to the sign, this stall still sells the good asbestos (АСБЕСТ).

“Hey, Johnny, how’s it looking down there? Everything ready for lunch?”

“Yes, boss! Rich harvest today!”

This turtle doesn’t look too happy. Either it wants more privacy, or it thinks the price of 250 Rubles (about four Euros) is too low.

I wonder which type of amphibian this is?

In the next and second to last article about Yekaterinburg I am going to have a look at a typical russian saturday. It will be a matter of heaven, hell and superhuman efforts, but let’s not spoil too much of it… 🙂

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