Russia 1981

Russia 1981 (14)

More photos from around Tselinograd...

Dinner was at 7pm and consisted of salad, meat and pasta followed by cake. After dinner andy went up to our room and I went with another of the party on a stroll around part of Tselinograd. I can't remember his name but he was very interesting and had traveled all over the world. We must have wandered into one of the poorer districts as the roads were unpaved, just dirt and full of potholes. The houses were very roughly made, little more than shacks really. Their water supply seems to be just stand pipes in the street.

We got a little lost and decided to take a shortcut across an area of dry, broken ground back to the road. As soon as I stepped onto it the ground gave way and I sunk up to my knees into some sort of nasty, smelly swamp. I felt very embarrassed and self-conscious walking back to the hotel as I was covered in mud.

Got back to the hotel around 9:30pm during which time most of the mud had dried. I just threw my socks away and brushed by trousers and shoes off as best I could.

Muddy shoes and trowsers

My muddy shoes and trousers

After I had a shower talked to Neil and Steve. Steve was slightly drunk and Neil had spent the evening with the Russian interpreter. Neil says the interpreter wants him to stay. Neil says there are worse places to stay than Russia but both Steve and I don't think this is a good idea at all. Russia is a great place and a beautiful country but we paid, if I remember rightly £1,600 and got to see "the best of". In general, Russian people do not have anywhere near the same standard of living we do and certainly not the freedom people in the West enjoy. I remember one of the interpreters asking me how much our holiday cost and she was astounded we could have that much personal spending money. It wasn't easy easy for me as I have a crappy job paying crappy wages but it was still far more than an average Russian would be getting.

About 11pm that night the room telephone rang. I picked it up and just said "room 419". The man on the other end just said "goodbye" and hung up. It was almost as if they rung just to check up on us. The next morning several other people reported getting the same phone call.

Saturday, 1st August, 1981

This was out last night in Tselinograd and when we got up at 5am to leave for Alma-Ata I left a short note and a tip in our room. Only 19 of us had decided to go to Alma-Ata out of the 56 in our party. The rest of the them would go straight to Leningrad and we would catch up with them later. As we 19 got on the coaches at 6:30am to take us to the airport the money was given back to me by our interpreter saying Russians don't take tips. The plane took off at 8am and we arrived in Alma-Ata at 9:40am. The plane we flew on, as was most of the other flights we took, was a JAK 40. This plane was designed to use unpaved runways - a bush plane. We had breakfast at the airport which consisted of pork and tomatoes, frankfurters and coffee.

One person was very ill on the plane - probably because we did have quite a bit to drink in the hotel bar last night. Instead of stopping at the terminus the plane stopped on the tarmac and bus came from the terminal to get us. Once we were all on the bus, it headed back to the terminus. Someone said someone was missing and as I turned around I could see the guy still on the tarmac being sick again. We couldn't get the bus to stop as the driver is in his own little cab. It let us off then had to go back to the plane to get him. Apparently, he spent nearly all day in bed in the hotel.

Alma-Ata was the capital of Kazakhstan at the time of our holiday, it was renamed in Almaty in 1993 and lost its status as capital to Tselinograd in 1997.

We got to the Seven Rivers (I've forgotten the Russian name for it) Hotel around 11am. By 11:45am we were off to a local winery for sightseeing and tasting. The tasting went very well. They gave us the spittoons which some of the more proper amongst us used. The rest of us just drank whatever was put in front of us. The winery had a 30 day champagne making process, the wine made this way tastes horrible, but so did some of the other champagnes they gave us. Nearly all of us were at least a bit tipsy when we left.

After the winery we took the cable car up Kok-Tyube (Green Mountain)


The cable car up Kok-Tyube


The outskirts of Alma-Ata under the cable car

View of Alma-Ata from Kok-Tyube

View of Alma-Ata from Kok-Tyube

The Green Mountains

The Green Mountains

The Radio / Television Tower

The Radio / Television Tower on Kok-Tyube

Aul Restaurant, Kok-Tyube

This is the sign for the Aul restaurant on Kok-Tyube
The restaurant itself is shaped like a Kazakh yurt or yurta

Aul is nicely furnished

Aul lighting

Lighting in Aul

Steve drinking tea

Steve drinking tea

Lunch at Aul

Lunch at Aul
Mr Campbell (right) can certainly drink

This was a long meal. The restaurant specializes in national cuisine. The first course was horsemeat - tasty but very tough. Then came meat and pasta soup, followed by kebabs. These last were delicious. Between courses, probably because of the alcohol at the winery, several people fell asleep and had to be awakened for the next part of the meal. The meal finished with some very nice chocolate sweets.

When the meal was over, back down on the cable car and onto the coach for a tour of Alma-Ata. This was a waste of time, nearly everyone fell asleep - too much alcohol and food. I didn't but sat in my seat fairly comatose and didn't notice much of anything that was going on at all.

This page created 25th September 2011, last modified 26th September 2011

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