Petrozavodsk, Karelia: Skiing in Russian Scandanav

Skiing in Karelia without going too far into the middle of nowhere.

Petrozavodsk, Karelia: Skiing in Russian Scandanav

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Lise on November 29, 2001

Petrozavodsk is best skied from mid-December to March. Skiing here is sublime on a decent day- the river is gold, the snow is dappled with cornflower shadows and lemon sunspots. The trees are often laden with snow, and there are lots of little hills. The district is called the "fontanka" after the springs that are located near the trails. I went skiing about two to five times a week when I lived there, though last season was a bit warm and I couldn't start until later. It's cold but very Russian and you get more of a wild feeling than on the more well groomed trails in other places, and you'll nearly be skiing on WWII and Winter War territory where the Finns deftly skated past the Russian panzas on their little wooden skis, tossing grenades... ${QuickSuggestions} Locals are really easy to meet. It's worthwhile to try and find an English or French speaker (there are more here than in other parts of Russia) to take you skiing. Just decipher some signs, go to a small performance, and speak English before and afterwards, and you are bound to meet somebody. Obviously women should be cautious around single men, trusting their instincts and never going with them alone, especially with (but not limited to!) older leches.${BestWay} Petrozavodsk is a pretty small town. In summer, you should walk everywhere, but in winter, you might want to take the trolleybus or a cab. Cabs won't break your budget (5 dollars across town is a scandal), and your hotel can call one for you. But if you want to do it the Russian way, you'll hop on a trolleybus (prices vary, but it's generally about 25 cents). You'll keep warmer because it's so crowded (during rush hours, anyway). How crowded? Try to imagine what the mosh pit would be like if Kurt Cobain rose from the dead and held a free concert at, say, your local McDonalds.


Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Lise on December 10, 2001

For some yummy fare afterwards, go to the cafe Kivatch, named after the waterfall, on Prospyekt Lyenina. It's on the corner right across from the State University (gosudarstvyenniy univesityet) where you caught the bus. The atmosphere is about as hip as it gets out of the stolitsas (capitals). They have concerts on some nights which range from crappy small-town Finnish heavy metal to really good Russian originals. the meals can be a little greasy (welcome to Russia) most of them are tasty and are substantial portions. It's not all Russian food, but some interesting fusion-type pasta-ish stuff that may have been inspired by the owner's Finnish dining experiences. There is a menu in English, usually, and a lot of the staff try to speak English or French. Some of them speak quite well. The owner is a woman, which is RARE in Russia, and you could go there just to support Russian women, although you wouldn't want to go anywhere else anyway.
Gosudarstveniy Universitet
Petrozavodsk, Russia

Important details- getting there

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Lise on December 10, 2001

To rent skis, or to go skiing, take trolleybus 2 or 5 (or marshrutka 21a) from the stop Prospyekt Lyenina (across the street from the state university) to "Prospyekt Alyeksandra Nyevskovo." Get off. Backtrack 100 meters to the first real road on your left (there will be one mini-road and a couple driveways first), turn left, go to the end of the road (you'll pass a bank with a Western Union office), then turn right, go to the end of the road (you'll pass a dorm on your left and some ghettos on your right), cross the tiny bridge which I assure you will not fall apart although you might slip off, and turn left. By now you ought to see some ski tracks in the snow in front of you. Walk 50 meters to the cabin (on your right) with a sign and the words LYZHI NA PROKAT ("ski rental") on it. You should have to pay no more than one dollar to rent Russian skis for the whole day! Don't worry about attire- most Russians are just hobbyists and wear sporty layers.

Don't forget how early it gets dark in the north!!! Start heading back around three just in case. DO NOT HEAD BACK AFTER THREE. There are no lights on the trails and no patrols. Bring a powerful flashlight, some snacks, and regular hiking emergency stuff just in case; don't forget an extra pair of dry socks.

To get to Petrozavodsk, there are several night trains from Moscow (Lyeningradskiy Vokzal) and Saint Petersburg (Moskovskiy Vokzal). Yours truly recommends using the service centers in all train stations.

In Moscow: Leningradskiy Vokzal. The service center is upstairs from the main ticket hall.

In Petersburg: Moskovskiy Vokzal. You MUST use the Inturist office, which is near the end off the main hall (with Peter's head) furthest from the trains.

In Petrozavodsk (to leave): If you are standing in front of the ticket hall, facing the trains, go to your left about 50 meters. The service center, which has normal business hours with frequent "technical" breaks, has its door *facing the same way you are* and is on your left. It's before the bistro.

The Murmansk trains have not been privatized yet and are notoriously disgusting. Avoid them at all costs. Ask for a Karelia train.

Women travelling alone should request a place in a zhenskiy kupee if they have them, or to travel platzkart, which is a lower class in which there are no cabins. This can be safer because everybody can see if someone begins to bother you, and you aren't locked in a cabin with strangers all night! At LEAST insist that you be placed with another woman. [Ya odna(1 person)/ Mi odni(2 ppl). Ya khochu beet/Mi khotim beet sdrugoy zhenshchinoy, pozhaluysta. Sposibah bolshoyeh.=I/we are alone. I/We want to be with another woman, please. Thank you very much.]

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