We adjusted our watches to +2 hours from Moscow time. Greeted by our tour guide and driver, we drove to our hotel and took it easy that evening. First observation: Our guide’s Mancunian accent.
The next morning, at 7 below zero, we started our walking tour to the heart of the city for a couple of hours. It couldn’t be a better time!
After a daunting visit to The Church on Blood that was built over the Ipatiev House, where Nikolai II Romanov, the last Russian Tsar, and his family were executed, we walked towards the Black Tulip Memorial Complex to the victims of the local wars. We desperately wanted a break from the frost. So, we went to Pozharka, a uniquely fire station designed restaurant with a full size fire truck. INSIDE! and downed Borscht.
The vibe was a total contrast to Moscow’s. Furnished with Pre-soviet churches and architecture of an earlier era, we were drawn to the energy and warmth of the locals. Rather than taking a boat ride for a city view, including a statue of Lenin, we walked on the snow covered Iset River, and also encountered a ship stranded in thick ice.
But before we headed back to our hotel to start our longest train journey (for this trip), we strolled down Ural Arbat shopping street, dined at an Uzbekistani joint and checked out a bunch of skaters through wired fences.