“Dutch Loft” is back on the menu in Moscow, $25/person/night, for sociable talkative English speaker

Crisis special: $25 $20/person/night!

008It’s a pleasure to announce that my present long-term tenants, a high tech-employed Russian couple with a cat and a parrot, are ready to share space in the very center of Moscow. more >>

For fans of military history. Route options that do not require permits.

Military history fans are usually drawn to the Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas, and to the island of Kil’din. These places saw intense fighting during WW2. Remnants of fortifications, guns, shells and other artifacts are still abundant.

1Visiting these places for foreign travellers, however, involves considerable difficulties. Rybachy, Sredny, and Kil’din are among pre-border territories, and a foreign citizen needs a permit from FSB to get there. The procedure involves writing a detailed application that takes no less than two months to consider and can be turned down without even an explanation. Attempting to visit these places without a permit may result in a fine and loss of visa, if not an accusation of spying, with all the ugly consequences.

At the moment we are looking into alternative routes on the Kola Peninsula that do not require special permits for fans of military history. more >>

Another film in Kandalaksha

simmaA Finnish film-maker Paul-Anders Simma is here to make a documentary about a Saami girl living in SOS Children’s Village in Kandalaksha. This is the northernmost in Russia and in the world Children’s Village – SOS. It began its work in 2003. Construction of Children’s Village in Kandalaksha was funded by Norwegian Friends of Children’s Villages – SOS Barnebyer.

Directed by Paul-Anders Simma, who had already worked in the Murmansk region. One of his locally shot works is a documentary “Olga”, made in Lovozero.

City dump preview

One of the key places of the city yet to be visited is the dump in the eastern outskirts of Kandalaksha. Here are some photos borrowed from Mutual road help site.

Soon to be visited in person.

All photos can be enlarged by a click.

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Kolamap.ru taken down

1An impressive collection of maps at kolamap.ru appears to be down, which is said to have happened on the request of unidentified “power authorities”. No further explanation is given in the local media. The popular guess is that they got into trouble for publishing the General Staff large-scale maps of close-to-border territories.

Kolvitsa. General info for travellers.

Three reasons to recommend Kolvitsa to travellers: (1) high concentration of good views; (2) easy access; (3) location along the Kandalaksha-Umba-Varzuga route. 

Dmitriev cape and entrance to the Kolvitsa bay. Photo by Georgy Kas’yanov.

Easy to access

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Visitng areas off-limit to foreigners and “close-to-border”

sredny-n-rybachy-2kildinPresently I’ve been studying rather intensely the situation with entry to restricted area for foreign travellers, namely to the Rybachy Peninsula and the island of Kil’din. As expected, encountering a bureaucratic mess. Not clear at the moment as to who is responsible for permits: FSB (a heir to KGB), or Border Patrol, or Federal Migration Services. The situation is further complicated by a very recent change of areas’ status into that of “protected territories”, which may put nature protection people in charge.

If interested in visiting these places watch for news here, under Attention foreign travellers. Updates on the subject should appear there very soon.

If per chance you know someone who recently travelled there, I’d love to speak with them.

More hassles promised for foreign travellers to Russia

no-entry-to-foreignersRecent (January 2015) rule from the Federal Migration Services makes it mandatory for travellers to supply a list of all places they plan to visit, where they will get registered, and by whom.

Up to now incoming tourists could register without specifying in advance the exact time and place they will be in, which gave them considerable freedom to make their itinerary as they go.

No wonder there is a significant drop in tourists travelling to Russia.

I’d very much like to hear how the new rule looks from the travellers’ point of view, what extra documents are now required, and in exactly what way the procedure to obtain the Russian visa has been made more difficult.

Found on Eye on the Arctic.

Northern rural photography by Alexander Stepanenko

Discovered by Alexandra Goryashko, who noticed how different these photos are from standard “beautiful” images, and immediately joined the ranks of fans of this Murmansk artist.

Here are photos she picked as “favourite”:

Maternity ward of the Umba hospital, now or in the very recent past

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