The train will arrive in the afternoon, but that will still be most of the day taken care of.
Day 30 Planned:
- Rossiya train #1 Irkutsk to Yekaterinburg – depart 1615 hours / arrive 1339 hours + 2 days
- Arrive Yekaterinburg, car transfer station/hotel
A quiet afternoon/evening today might be in order given what’s coming tomorrow.
Day 30 Actual:
After a reasonable sleep the train continued to move west through the mix of forests and industrial cities that seems to be the primary make up of Siberia.
The morning was extremely misty/foggy and that’s reflected in the photos today. Basically none of the early photos were salvageable.
We got off briefly at one of the stops along the way. Some of the other passengers pointed out smoke coming from some of the other carriages on other trains – it appears that the samovars in some carriages are coal fired.
Then a quiet morning as the train rolled on.
After we got into Yekaterinburg there were some mixups with the guides but we all made it to the Chekhov Hotel successfully. On the way the guide alerted us to the existence of the Military Museum <<Ural Defensive Fame>> on the outskirts of Yekaterinburg. It apparently started as the memorial for a copper factory’s contributions to the Great Patriotic War and grew, massively, from there.
I’ll update this later with photos but to put it in context:
1. We skipped lunch
2. The taxi ride there was the best part of an hour with four guys plus driver squeezed into a not particularly large care
3. The taxi ride back was the best part of two hours*, in the rain, on thankfully recently salted roads. See previous note re size of car
4. We only had about an hour and a half there.
So, with the stage set like that: OH. MY. GOD.
This place is amazing.
The local war memorial and eternal flame is outside the museum and we walked past in on the way to the entrance. I’m not sure what the construction behind it was.
The open air collection is astonishing and includes things I never thought I’d see. Say hello to a good chunk of the Girls Und Panzer cast, not to mention a few patrol boats, a submarine, several armoured trains (complete with replica train station).
First up, here’s a T34 and note some of the aircraft collection in the background:
Here’s something you won’t see every day. A multi turreted T-35 (wikipedia says there are 5 turrets):
This is one of only two operational KB-2s left in the world. Wikipedia shows this as a KV-2, but the display placard at the museum said KB-2 so that’s what I’m going with.
There were a couple of patrol boats on display:
Oh, and several MiG fighters that I never thought I’d see. And I do mean several:
Not sure of the model but this was the smaller one in the rear left of the above photo:
Here’s a glimpse of the armoured trains with the replica train station behind them:
And another look from the front across the whole set, including the replica water tower on the left:
Oh, and a submarine. Because they can:
My one disappointment with the museum would have been that all the naval vessels were closed to access. Going inside would have been fascinating.
Moving on there was also about half a dozen or so Katyushas (aka Stalin’s Organs)
Then there’s the inside collection which apart from having a great selection of uniforms and other historical details (mostly untranslated alas), has even more vehicles etc on display. Including an honest to god Hawker Hurricane.
No. Really. I’m not making this up you know.
The range of vehicles inside was also impressive, if occasionally disturbing in a “how would you use that?” kind of a way. In this case I presume you’d stop moving before firing the mortar…
Then there’s these propeller driven snow mobiles:
Which would tow troops on skis behind the propellers according to this model:
This shot gives a hint as to how much there was to see inside the musuem:
The person who owns the museum apparently also has a museum of classic cars, and I think this was on display here to remind people of the other complex (which we didn’t get anywhere close to):
The upper floors had a good collection of uniforms, military memorabilia, and personal weapons, including the development of the AK-47/AKM/AK-74 – check out Julian’s commentary for more details. One item up here that intrigued me was this glass (?) model of the Black Sea Fleet destroyer Smetlivy (and, yes, it took some googling to find that. The hull number helped):
Organising the taxi back was a challenge and got the museum management involved. They were really impressed that we’d made such an effort to come see them, and helped out immensely with getting the taxi. They even gave Julian a beautiful hardcover book with the history of the museum and an overview of the collection.
On the way out of the building I took this from the windows in the stairwell, and just this fraction of the collection should give you an idea of the sheer scale of the place:
Oh yes, apparently all the tanks outside?
They’re in running order.
Which means, for example, that the KB-2 is one of only two in the world that do run.
I’ll probably write about this more once I’ve had a chance to look at that book, and get my photos up.
EDIT: Which I’ve now done. See above.
After that, dinner at a great restaurant and then to bed.
These will be loaded at the next stop (nope, still not telling) once I have a chance to relax a bit. However the text for the rest of the last train ride has been updated, and includes a world map highlighting the stops to date.
Or, alternatively I could get a quiet afternoon here in Yekaterinburg, and do them today.