до свидания Москва (пока)… Goodbye Moscow (for now)
Ever feel you’ve been in a place too long? That’s a little unfair. I still want to write a whole section on Moscow: Off the Beaten Track, preferably peppered with the grit of ground-level experience as related by a cast of interviewees… Just like “Business in the City of Extremes”, in fact. However, to mix things up a bit for variety’s sake, let’s take a trip east to Perm. There’ll be more zig-zagging within a general trend east, I’m sure…
The initial question is probably, Why Perm? The answer is relatively simple: it’s a “featured” location of the Russia Experience’s overall package, due to several points of interest…which we’ll get to.
According to a little on-line research: there are around 10 trains per day heading out along the Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Perm, the journey itself taking roughly 24 hours. There are city-stops along the way, usually 10-20 minutes each, where you have the opportunity to purchase homemade food and other products from station vendors approaching the waiting trains. I remember chatting with someone who had been there, and who related that this (essentially) cottage industry is unregulated, so don’t expect to see a hygiene certificate if you do decide to partake.
For the record, you can also fly to Perm from Moscow, which takes approximately 2 hours. You can even reach the city by river cruise, taking 8 to 10 days. Of course, these options mightn’t seem relevant in a Trans-Siberian Railway blog post! I digress.
However you get there, you’ll be in the Urals’ second largest city, inhabited by 1000,000 souls in an area of 800 sq. km, bifurcated by the Kama river. It straddles the Kama for 70km, incidentally.
Today it remains a large manufacturing base, due to it’s wealth of natural resources and Soviet legacy. During the Second World War, it served as the major artillery production centre. Subsequently it served as a “hidden” city, due to its military fabrication for the Soviet rocketry and jet fighter industries, not appearing on maps or even being known to many outside of the Urals.
Interestingly, Perm shares its name with the Permian archaeological period during which the Urals were formed (290–245 million ago). The city is renowned for its multicultural status, being the home of several long-standing ethnic groups, without losing its distinctive Russian identity.
Another notable aspect, this time literary, is that Perm is the template for city locations in Boris Pasternak’s nobel prize-winning novel Dr Zhivago. I have even heard anecdotally that you can almost use the book as a city guide in parts, though I wouldn’t want to rely on that! At any rate, the people of Perm recognise Pasternak’s contribution to putting their city on the map: there’s a monument to his work and memory.
Next time: Trips and Tales (Part 34)
Some things to see and do in Perm…
[Photo by Marywhotravels]