The Last of the RomanovsJune 17, 2017 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C
After a 25 hour train journey from Moscow I finally arrived at Yekaterinburg where I would spend 2 days. The journey had been very comfortable, especially as my travelling companion got off at 4am, leaving me the compartment to myself for most of the trip. The dining room was deserted at breakfast and lunch, most Russians preferring to bring on their own food (and drink!). Each carriage is run by a ‘Providnitsa’ - who maintains order, keeps the place tidy and the samovar topped up, so there is plenty of hot water for tea / coffee and pot noodles. I had heard some frightening tales about these women, and was expecting Big Bertha’s cousin Ursula from the Urals, but was pleasantly surprised when a young student doing this job on her summer holidays appeared.
Yekaterinburg is in the Urals, and is probably best known as the place where Tsar Nicholas ll and his family were murdered in 1918. The pleasant girl in the tourist office arranged with her colleague Maxim to give me a private tour of the area, and we visited the monument marking the border between Europe and Asia, some ancient Ice Age stones in the forest, where I saw a wedding with a very gloomy bride (do they ever smile?), and a place called Ganina Yama where the Romanov bodies had been taken and disposed of in an old mine shaft, to be discovered only in 1991. A lovely monastery has been built around the spot in a beautiful, peaceful woodland setting. It was a tranquil and poignant place to visit.
In the evening I went to the bijou Ykaterinburg Opera House and saw a performance of Carmen. I arrived a minute before curtain up and got a great seat in the stalls of this lovely theatre for 100 rubles (about £1.35!). It was a great production, complete with a Soviet tank and Russian tram, but sadly no sign of Bertha! Well, you can't have everything…Read more