Questions on Russian travel (in particular to the north-west of European part of the country), working, or living are most welcomed. Write to manfriday@yandex.ru, contact me via Skype at Uncle_Pasha_2011, or use chat at the bottom right corner of this page.

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I’m ready for a new challenge

For the last few months, in addition to translating Alexandra’s book on the eiders (the end of the project is now in sight sometime in 2019) and teaching English (mostly to local kids), I’ve been looking where a motor yacht could fill up with quality diesel fuel between St. Petersburg and Murmansk. Now, with the yacht project over, 1/3 of my time and energy is freed up, and am ready to apply it to the benefit humanity and to help in paying our bills.

Examples of jobs done in the last three or four years, since our move to the Kola Peninsula: more >>

Nordic walking competition Oct. 21 2018

Nordic walking, where people, for the reasons that elude me, pace along with skiing sticks but no skis, is vastly popular in Kandalaksha. Today I noticed a poster announcing a Nordic walking competition that is to take place on Sunday, October 21, in the city park. The poster indicated no time when the event is taking place but most happenings of this sort start. The location was given as “on the left side of the Niva River”. I assume it along the trail in the city park, accessible by a suspended bridge from Ulitsa Naberezhnaya.

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The most spectacular of Kandalaksha’s ruins is set to be exploded and leveled

Photo by Dr. Morita. August 2018.

The Officers’ House, built in late 1930s, was abandoned in 2010, suffered from a series of fires, and up to now has been standing as the most spectacular of local ruins. Recently a decision to bring it down by a series of explosions and demolish it starting October 15 was announced. I’m truly sorry to see this monument to the Soviet epoch go. Here are a few photos by Alexandra from our last visit there in September this year..

The facade is there. I’m neither an architect nor a civil construction economist but isn’t a building restorable as long as the facade and the walls are there? Perhaps restoration takes more subtlety and flexibility, compared to leveling things and building anew, than we Russians are capable of?

The roof is gone, and the central stage is exposed..

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Intense aurora borealis right over Kandalaksha last night

Last night, October 7, at about 10 pm, we were treated to spectacular northern lights display clearly visible right over the town despite light pollution. That may have been the brightest display I’ve ever seen. First we even thought the building was on fire.

Here are some photos taken with an ordinary camera.

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Moose pulled out of canal near Nivsky

A moose is said to have been stuck in the hydroelectric canal of the Niva hydroelectric station, about 10km north from Kandalaksha, on Sunday morning. Apparently the animal tried to swim across but could not get out on the opposite side. The moose was successfully pulled ashore..

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Moose in heat

The fall reproductive season has started in the Murmansk Region moose, which makes the animals careless and aggressive, and likely to end up in front of your car. I hear of at least a couple of accidents each year involving vehicles hitting moose on local roads, usually with ugly consequences. And yes, they can be aggressive. I was kicked by one in the Sokolniki part in Moscow a few years ago, after trying too eagerly to take a good photo. And in my younger days I witnessed a scene when a female moose chaced a boy. Never thought a human could run so fast! Come to think of it, both incidents happened when the animals were likely to be in heat, in spring in the former and in the fall in the latter story. You’ve been warned.

..was dragged out to Luvenga Tundras today

My tough and somewhat cruel mate used the fact that today I had no teaching engagements at all – a rare case during the school year – to drag me out into the hills in the vicinity of Luvenga, ~10 miles east of Kandalaksha along the south shore, with the purpose of “contemplating natural beauty”.

I’d estimate we walked at least 10km up and down a wet, muddy and rocky trail and got to the height of 500+ meters. Now my legs are falling off.

I admit however the scenery was indeed on the beautiful side, and I’m ready to take you travellers to the hills in exchange for a modest financial contribution to keeping us afloat. The trip includes a picnic.

Of things practical/edible – even though we are sick of mushrooms at this time of the year – we’ve collected one perfect King bolete and several Weeping boletes. Lots of blueberries and some lingonberry in the hills even though there very few berries by the sea because of the summer drought.

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2018 Northern lights season has started

A few sightings of this phenomenon have been noticed starting as far back as two weeks ago. No, you don’t need it to be cold but darkness and clear sky are essential. See some of my old advice to those seeking to see Aurora, including a link to the local Kandalaksha group of Aurora hunters.

Today’s Honey agaric catch

The mushroom season is in full swing. Today we collected a bunch of honey agaric, and am not sure what to do with them as by this time I’m almost sick of eating mushrooms even though picking them remains fun. Probably we’ll marinate some of them, fry another part, and freeze the rest.