Why is Russia like it is?

Here is a comprehensive yet of manageable size, profound yet easy to read article by Martin Levine, former Foreign Service Officer, explaining why Russia is what it is with all her peculiarities, which are likely to make our lives more difficult than they have to be for a long time to come. I stumbled onto it on Quora.com

I have spent a few months in Russia so I maybe understand their attitude a little bit.

The Russians have a set of issues that make it difficult for them to relate to the rest of the world, not just the USA.

A Profound Sense of Loss

The Russians are sort of like the British. They had an Empire and they lost it. Some parts of the Soviet Union were kept there by force, an internal empire. The Uzbeks, the Ukrainians, the Kazakhs, might have preferred to do their own thing. Then of course there were the “satellite “ countries of Eastern Europe. And, the Russians had outposts in Cuba, Vietnam, Angola and elsewhere.

The link to the rest of the article >

Volostnaya hill accessible by foot

I’m pleased to share with the world that Volostnaya Hill overlooking Kandalaksha has, unlike it was the case last March, well-packed trails, and can be accessed on foot without skies, snowshoes, or other contraptions and ceremonies.

Here are some photos from our trip there today..

Trees are fully packed in snow, a local “March” phenomenon, a consequence of wind and high humidity..


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A wedding in the Khibiny Mountains

The Kukisvumchorr ski resort http://www.25chorr.ru/

Downhill skiers Maria and Ivan celebrated their wedding here today.

Photo from the downhill skiing complex in VKontakte: 
https://vk.com/25chorr?w=wall-60271949_6831
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From Salla/Kemijarvi/Rovanijemi to Kandalaksha by bus

This week I received two inquiries from travellers planning a trip from Finland to Kandalaksha by bus.

It appears there is no scheduled bus but trips at the moment by passenger van are regularly organized.

Here is the list of companies that offer such trips:

  • http://transfer-tour.ru/
  • https://www.kandalaksha.org/perevozchik51/index.htm
  • https://vk.com/id316070484
  • https://vk.com/club52969354
  • https://vk.com/id8120737

(courtesy of www.allaboutlapland.fi)

The procedure is to call them and ask when the next trip is, and to reserve a seat, and to arrange a place to meet. The cost is in the area of 2000 roubles ($40).

If you need help communicating with local service providers feel free to ask me by writing to manfriday@yandex.ru 

PS. Just got a call from one of the operators, Sergei, tel. +7 921 157 9231, who confirmed that there are no regular buses but trips are organized “on demand”. At this moment he has the trips scheduled for March 5, 8, 10, and 17. The trip from Rovaniemi to Kandalaksha is 3000 roubles ($50+) and from Salla to Kandalaksha 2000 roubles. No particular pickup point but call Sergei and give him your address, and he’ll pick you up. And HE DOES SPEAK ENGLISH!! Since there are about five operators like him you can pretty much get on the bus every or nearly every day.

PPS. A comment from Alexandra:

It would be good for the foreign traveller to understand that all the buses are focussed on shop tours to Finland for the Russians. That is, the probability is high that either/neither the dispatcher or/nor the driver will speak English, and the routes, the places and times of parking are tied to major stores popular with the Russians. Also many of these tours originate in Murmansk or Apatiny..

Record snowfalls

 

 

I don’t know how many inches of the stuff fell down this week but here is a short video by Natalia Vopiyashina of Varzuga showing the Kandalaksha to Varzuga bus being pushed through snow by passengers somewhere around Kashkarantsy.

Fourteen Citroen 2CV cars expected in Murmansk on January 26

Fourteen “ugly duckling” Citroen 2CV cars with 29 courageous Dutch on board have left Groningem, the sister city of Murmansk, and are expected to arrive on January 26. They will be parked by the Radisson Polarnye Zori hotel on ulitsa Knipovicha 17. The official meeting with Murmansk residents is next day, Saturday, January 27, at 12:30 pm. Free admission.

The group plans to visit the Children’s Hospital and the Center for the Disabled in Murmansk.

 

A new no-words film on the Kandalaksha nature

The new film, entitled “This Cold North”, was shot by our friend and colleague, a biologist, photographer, and local history expert Gennady Alexandrov back in 1996 but just was released now. The focus of it is the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve..

Saami crafts shop recently opened in Lovozero

News of the recent opening of the Saami craft shop/outlet named “Vuss” (a round-bottomed leather bag) in Lovozero, the center of Kola Saami, have reached me. Their shop both makes and sells things. 

Here are some examples of their deerskin articles:

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“To book aurora borealis”

Got several inquiries from travelers wishing to come here to see the aurora borealis, aka northern lights. Here is my attempt to provide a comprehensive answer to the seekers of this phenomenon.

The most common question is “When do I need to travel to the Kola Pensula to see aurora borealis for sure”. First, forget the “for sure” part. The aurora is a probabilistic thing. Thus there is no clear-cut answer to this question. Generally speaking, aurora borealis can be observed at high latitudes any time there are dark nights. On the Kola Peninsula it is approximately from September to April.

A common misconception is that aurora borealis requires real cold winter weather. This photo was made in the Hibiny mountains on the 28th of September, and I’ve myself seen the aurora in the vicinity of Kandalaksha starting the end of August.

 

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A Bearded seal

..came out of the sea, with a splash, near the dacha village of Malinovy some 10km east of Kandalaksha, and looked at us with what appeared like intense interest from the distance of ~30 meters.