..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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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.

2017 year summary

This is me by the White Sea coast ~200 meters from our new dacha, where my mate regularly drags me out, after a forced walk at minus 20 degrees centigrade (minus 4 Fahrenheit)

An appropriate end of December exercise may be to sum up the results of this year, my fourth one in Kandalaksha.

Making a living remains the number one issue. On that front I’m pleased to note that, after three years here, I seem to have achieved a certain popularity as an English tutor, and have just as many clients – mostly from among the local kids – as I need, three or four one hour lessons on an average day, exactly as much as I can comfortably handle.

As far as providing services to travelers and those who have an interest in Russia but can’t be here, several projects completed in 2017 come to mind.

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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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The discovery of Olenitsa

On our way from Kuzomen we stopped by the village of Olenitsa some 50km west. Somehow this place managed to evade our attention in all these years. The village turned out to be a delight, as are most places along the south cost of the Kola Peninsula. Here are a few photos of this charming Olenitsa place:

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Succumbed to the temptation..

A finger bitten by a sharp-toothed baby seal

 

Today I’ve succumbed to the temptation to feed baby seals. These come ashore once every couple of years by the canal from the Niva cascade of hydroelectric stations opening into the Kandalaksha bay in the west end of the city. The rather fast water flow from the canal brings oxygen, which attracts herring, which, in turn, brings in adult seals with their babies. Adults catch their own fish. Babies come to the shore and get fed by people. One of classic Kandalaksha entertainments. We could not resist..

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Africanda, Polarnye Zori district

Yesterday, for no particular reason other than its curious name, we headed to a place called Africanda, about 10 miles north from Polarnye Zori. The story says that the name originated as a joke, when railroad station builders encountered a particularly hot, Africa-like, summer day. The village offers among the most spectacular local ruins. The town core however appears relatively civilized, full of small two-story houses surrounded by pine trees. Here are a few photos to convey to you the sense of the place:

 

 

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Free guide for English speaking travelers to Kandalaksha.

Here is a message from one of my English students:
 
My name is Irina and I’m studying English for the third year now. I freely read books and watch movies but I desperately need English conversation practice. If you are not afraid my bad English I will be your guide and show you around Kandalaksha.
 
I’ve been living here for twelve years and there hardly is a question about the town that I can’t answer. Where to stay, where to eat, what to visit, how to enjoy your trip – just ask.
 
Please email me mast.ruk@yandex.ru or call +7 911 3050721. I’m available on weekends.

Exhibition train in Kandalaksha on Oct. 5

railroad-expo-trainThe history of the Karelia and Murmansk part of the October railroad, originally connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg, and latest technological advances are said to be featured.

Here is the schedule of the train:

October 1 – Murmansk
October 2 – Zapolarnaya Station
October 3 – Olenegorsk
October 4 – Apatity
October 5 – Kandalaksha
October 6 – Kovdor
October 7 – Kem

Open 10am to 6pm, closed 1 to 2pm, admission fee 70 roubles.

Mass downing of Murmansk prostitution sites

site-downI’ve taken a look at the kandalaksha.su statistics and noticed that my short post mentioning Murmansk prostitution sites continues enjoying immense popularity but, alas, the resources it points to are mostly down. The only one that appears alive although not exactly full of information or activity is murmansk.sexros.net. One is disconnected, another one is for sale, and the third just wouldn’t open. Another industry appears to have succumbed to the recession.