|Day 5. Ufa - Zlatoust - Chelyiabinsk|
Highway with lots of potholes and road work, rainy cold weather, still good mood.
Roadside vendors selling a variety of souvenirs, but the main items shining in front of their shops are stainless steel stills for moonshine production. According to Joon who has PhD in chemical engineering, the design and quality is superb, so he buys a still hoping he will get it on the plane. If he succeeds, he is going to make some peach and apple brandy in Oregon.
Pay attention to the merchandise themes:
As Zlatoust is near the highway, we decided to take a look at that town of renowned blade masters. Well, that was not much fun. Decaying town with ugly houses along the mail street. What is the street name? But of course, Lenin Street.
By that time we got quite hungry, and courageously entered a "Stolovaya" - eatery of the type that was very popular in the Soviet Union. Surprisingly, the food choice was quite good: salads, three kinds of soup, fish, meat and chicken, pirogi. All tasted OK. For a 3-course lunch for four and beverage we paid 900 rubles. It felt like I returned to the USSR of 1970-ies. A friendly "Razdatchitsa" (a woman in charge of both dispensing and serving the food) kindly explained where the post marking Europe-Asia borderline was.
A few kilometers further down the road we noticed the Europe-Asia monument. A talkative local vendor with a truckful of souvenirs took a picture of us, sold us a few magnets and complained that Zlatoust blades are no good now, so they bring blades from Kizlar, another famous steelworks. We expressed our sympathy and continued the rally towards Chelyabinsk.
There is not much to tell about Chelyabinsk. It is a big city with vast suburbs and surrounding satellite towns, all having a long history of being Russia's defense industry zone. In WW2, it was the USSR's main tank producer. After the war, much nuclear research was conducted there, with inevitable at that time industrial accidents and radioactive spills. Hence, and up to this day, it is considered a most unhealthy city to live in. Yet Chelyabinsk looks quite prosperous, has about a million inhabitants, several drama and opera theaters, philharmonics, zoo, many recreational facilities.
Kirovka pedestrian street and Chelyabinsk-city business center.
Maybe if we stayed there longer we would have found it more attractive. However, with only on night to spare and good weather back, we took a taxi ride through the central part, had a nice dinner and hit the bunk at a decent hotel.
NEXT LEG : Chelyabinsk - Ishim >