If you think the name of this city is difficult to pronounce in English, try it in Russian. The name is five syllables long and in Russian the first four syllables are pronounced very rapidly with the emphasis being placed on the last syllable (at least that’s how the locals say it, although I have heard it pronounced with the emphasis on the second to last syllable, which makes it a little easier to say).
Founded at the direction of Peter the Great in the early 1700’s as a mining and industrial center, Yekaterinburg has always been a little grittier than the more refined and more European cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
Russia is a truly enormous country. Unfathomably enormous. It’s nearly twice as big as the US, but has less than half of the population of the US. Three fourths of the population of Russia is in the relatively small European portion of Russia while the vast Asian portion of Russia has only 25% of the total population.
Yekaterinburg sits just over the Asia/Europe division on the Asian side. It’s the fourth largest city in Russia with a population of about a million and a half.
Yekaterinburg holds a special place in my heart because I spent two years here in the mid 90’s (just 5 years after the fall of communism) when I was a young man.
I have quite a few friends here. As funny as it may be, this is one of my favorite places to visit–just behind San Francisco–and this is my third time back since I lived here so many years ago.
When we arrived, we were met at the airport by my old friend Nicolai (Kolya for short). He greeted Ashley with roses, the kids with chocolate, and me with a stiff slap on the back.
Kolya has been our driver and guide on this trip and thanks to him we’ve been able to go more places and see much more than we would if we were on our own. We’ve also been able to do it in comfort riding in his car instead of walking outside in the cold.
And it has been cold. We’ve had rain, we’ve had snow, we’ve had wind, and we’ve had a lot of unseasonable cold.
Thank goodness that things this week have started to warm back up.
There are many things we have seen and done here, and this little piece of the world holds so much nostalgia for me that I could probably fill 10 posts with details of current and past sites and experiences.
I will in fact post more in the future, but for now, here are some photos with descriptions.