Rostov-on-Don

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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…?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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What can I say about this ride besides the fact that it was LONG.  It was a 30 hour train ride.  I boarded at 1500 and didn’t get off until the following evening at about nine or ten p.m.  Fortunately, the Ukrainian girl in my compartment spoke excellent English and we were able to talk throughout the trip.

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It was a good ride and I was able to see much of the Ukrainian countryside.  The police and customs agents were much friendlier than my last visit.  A drug dog came through the train at the border but he didn’t seem to find anything on our train.  The train attendant served coffee or tea whenever we wanted it and it was included in the price of the ticket; it was nice not to have to dig for change for every cup of coffee.

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The train had many stops along the route.  At each little station the locals came out to sell their products, fruit and vegetables, beer and soda, bread, and even ready-made lunches.  I purchased a lunch from one woman; it included 3 meat patties, bread, tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes.  It was quite good and cost me about $4.

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 A little boy from the next compartment came by every few hours and kept us entertained throughout the ride.  I’m (again) growing accustomed to the cigarette smoke; all of the smoking passengers smoke in the walk-space between the train cars.  The small room fills full of smoke and as soon as they return to the passenger car, the smoke pours into the sitting/sleeping area.  My eyes are a bit red and the lungs feel heavy; it makes you wonder what smoking does to the lungs of people who kill two packs a day?

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At some point we passed over the Dnieper River.  I scrambled to get my camera to take a photo.  It wasn’t until  the next train ride that I realized that the best photos could be taken from the open window in the bathroom.

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Of course, that entailed having to actually visit the bathroom.  And whatever the photo does, it doesn’t capture the smell:

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Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

Back to home page: http://scotttraveler.com