Trans-Siberian Railway – one of the most famous and longest railways of the world, the pride of Russia and the magnet of tourists looking for an adventure. From rainy Saint Petersburg, through a magnificent Moscow, surprisingly beautiful Kazan, socialistic Tyumen and touristic Irkutsk to the greatest jewel of my trip – Lake Baikal. A group of 40 young people from the organisation AEGEE decided to fulfill their travel dreams. This life adventure has brought many contrasts. Wealth of the former tsars vs. wooden shacks cut off from the world. Strong midday heat vs. unceasing rain and cold nights. Decorated Orthodox church vs. shamanistic ribbons blowing in the wind. Endless taiga vs. steppe without a single tree. Centers of the modern architecture vs. traditional socialist apartment buildings. Thousands of kilometres, five time zones, the quantities of powder pasta and a lot of fun- this is how my adventure looked like.
Tyumen – the capital of Siberia
We are in Siberia! More specifically, right in its heart in the capital city of Tyumen. Tyumen is totally different than anything we have seen so far. If you are interested in rich history better choose some other city on your journey throughout Russia. Although Tyumen was founded in 1586 as the first Russian settlement in Siberia, its today’s character is particularly marked by the Second World War, when the industry stared to grow here. Today Tyumen is home to many flourishing business companies, mainly with oil. No wonder, the region is full of strategic resources.
The first night we spent at the party. As it was a working day, we were almost alone at the bar. Cool for us, this way they could play our favourite playlists and we truly enjoyed it. Along the way to the bar we made a short stop at ul. Volodarskogo, 45 where a huge statue of Lenin stands. Lenin personally visited Tyumen during World War II. Wait, it can´t be! At that time Lenin was already dead! And yet it’s true. During the war the body of Lenin was evacuated from Moscow to Tyumen to keep it safe. Tyumen State Agricultural Academy served as a temporary mausoleum at that time.
Discovering what Tyumen has to offer
The next day we started to explore the city from the square at ulitsa Respubliki, 129. Interesting. On one side stood a beautiful drama theater. However Socialist unsightly blocks that lined the square from the other sites were forming contrast to nice theatre building. And this contrast did appear across the entire tour. Newer buildings and decorated churches were built in between old functionalist buildings, which gave the city a special character.
We approached the City Park of Culture and Leisure. The park was full of various statues, iron ornaments and even carousels. In the middle was a large fountain and the weather temperature was so high! Hmmm it was so tempting, let’s refresh us in it!
Tyumen´s most beautiful place is definitely the promenade by the river Tura. Promenade still breathes novelty since it was built only recently and offers its visitors views of the city across the river. While walking in heat on the long promenade, trying to catch every shadow possible, soon we reached the most famous bridge in Tyumen – Lovers Bridge. And we just met there fresh newlyweds. Coincidence?
From the bridge in the distance we saw the pride of Tyumen – Trinity Monastery. If we walked another 20 minutes along the promenade we would get to this lovely monastery and serene gardens surrounding it. However, the sun was burning and we were tired. Nobody wanted to walk on and so we decided to get on a bus to drive us across whole town to the gym, where we were sleeping.
The final impression from Tyumen?
Our stay in Tyumen was slowly coming to an end. We packed our things and moved to the station. Behind us was a city without tourists. The city, which might seem unsightly. The city, quite ordinary, in which residents deal with quite ordinary worries. And that’s what made Tyumen so magical. We saw the real life, the real Russia. Tyumen has provided us with a whole different view of this diverse country, and for that I am grateful.
Back to the train. Our longest train journey is right in front of us – two days on the train without a break. But we are already used to, nothing can surprise us. The road will pass quickly and we will not even realize how soon we will be in Irkutsk. Or am I wrong? You will find out in the next article.