train to Rostov-on-Don
Rostov to Volgograd


I arrived in Rostov just before 10am and in my broken Russian I tried to hire a cab to my hotel.  One man spoke English and quoted me an outrageous price.  I haggled him down and when he refused my price I walked.  As I walked away, he quickly changed his mind, accepted, and then we were on our way.  My cab driver’s name was George, or so he said.  He chatted me up quite a bit and asked me a lot of questions.  His questions all seemed to have a political tone…  He told me that he had served in Chechnya with the Russian Army and complained that it was difficult to fight a guerilla war with the Red Cross looking over their shoulders and an enemy that resorted to terrorist tactics.  Later, when he refused to give me his phone # to call him for additional business, he refused.  Pretty atypical behavior from a cabbie…?



The Amaks hotel had rather modern rooms, a good breakfast and fast internet.  The following morning, I went on a tour of the town including a walk down Pushkinskaya (Pushkin Street), famous for its pretty park like walking corridor, making sure to stop and take the “required” photo at the Pushkin statue.



Later, I walked down to the Don River to shoot some photos.  There, I met a documentary team that was filming a piece that they hoped to air as a documentary on the National Geographic channel.  The man I spoke with was from Malaysia and his team had followed this cargo boat from Malaysia down around India, across the Indian Ocean, past Somali pirates to the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal, past Greece and Turkey in the straights of Bosphorus, into the Black Sea, the Azov Sea, and finally up the Don River from Azov to Rostov.  From there, they would continue to follow the boat upriver to just east of Volgograd where the ship would take a canal that connects the Don and Volga rivers.  There, it will sail down river to Astrakhan and finally make port.  He even imported a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle); it was a Canadian made helicopter with GPS guidance and a life motion television and still cameras.  He paid US $40,000 for it and I was surprised to hear that the Russian government didn’t give him the slightest bit of grief when he brought it into Russia.  I suppose they didn’t know what it was when he cleared customs.  The man and I exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch and share travel stories.



Next, I worked my way south along the river passing through the outdoor shopping areas and finally to the Byzantine Church of the Virgin.  I took some great photos inside and out and observed the Orthodox Christians worshiping.  When they enter and exit the threshold of the church, they make the sign of the cross first to the head, then right shoulder, then to the left; exactly the opposite of the Catholics who cross left first, and then right.  I had first seen this in Latvia in 2002…  The Orthodox Churches are very beautiful with their golden domes and decorative interiors.






Finally, I had lunch on the riverfront and then took a 1 hour cruise up the river.  The ride up the Don River came with the ever-present Russian disco music; everywhere you go in Russia, you can be sure there will be disco music.  Later, I watched at the local fishermen pulled in their catch from the Don River.  They seemed to be catching a perch looking fish, and what looked like carp.





Before I left Rostov, I searched in vain to find postcards to mail family and for my collection.  I guess postcards aren’t popular in Russia.  I am the only western tourist I’ve seen since I left Ukraine, I guess they don’t sell many to foreigners.  As it costs about ¾ of a dollar to mail a postcard, I doubt that the locals have much use for mailing them either…  Finally, to be able to send a postcard from Rostov for my collection, I cut a greeting card in half that I bought at the Cathedral in town.  It has a big angel on the front, but at least the cathedral is painted in the background…



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train to Rostov-on-Don
Rostov to Volgograd

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