Trip Start Aug 29, 2005
10Trip End Dec 18, 2005
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we drove on in murmansk, which is the largest city on the kola peninsula, with a population of 300,000. during the height of the industrial growth of the USSR, the population was close to half a million, many of whom were forced during the gulag to move north to provide labour for the various industies of the north. if the ukraine was the USSR's breadbasket, the kola was it's industrial and military arm.
unlike cities in canada, murmask was built all at once, quickly and deliberately. gulag and all.
Russia is a land of paradoxes.we saw nuclear icebreakers, witnessed some "fireworks" near our hotel caused by broken powerlines blowing in the wind, drank beer and watched football in the red pub, complete with soviet propaganda posters and a big old che watching over us, saw many museums, drank a great deal of vodka (think busload of students and under $5 canadian for a litre), and i think that a member of the russian mafia might have tried to pick me up (huge scary scowling russian dude: you come with me to club i pay for you. me: um, no thank you. him: you COME TO CLUB WITH ME! me: can my (male) friend come too? him: no. me: run away!! - i think it was more a lack of charm than serious danger, but still...)
it was incredible and crazy. i would definitely go back.
being a vegetarian, we were warned, would be a challenge as the word doesn't seem to translate into russian. the locations where the 3 members of the vegetarian segregation table, as we were always placed in a specific often remote corner of the restaurant while everyone else chose their eating partners and location, received the best and most "vegetarian" food was in the least seemingly likely cafeterias
enjoy the photos, i have many more than i have time to post, but there are many more from others in my class at www.ulapland.fi/kolaexcursion.