Excursion Through Southern Russia
posted by James Nance
posted on 05.08.2012
We just recently returned from our end-of-semester trip down in Southern Russia. Spring came early for us because the temperatures were in the high 70s when we were there, while back in Saint Petersburg the temperatures were only in the high 40s. The first step of our trip brought us to Rostov-na-Donu, where we stayed at the Hermitage Hotel, not far from the banks of the river Don. During our two days there, we went on a general tour of the city, got to go swimming in the natural clean water springs, and walked across the bridge to the other side of the Don, which is technically in Asia.Return to List
After we said до свидания to Rostov-na-Donu, we hopped on a bus and headed to the infamous Russian Steppe to go camping. We arrived just as the sun was setting, so we got to enjoy the sunset just before we set up our tents and went to sleep.
Next, we headed over to Elista, geographically situated in Asia, but still able to claim the title of the geopolitical Buddhist capital of Europe. There, we visited both “Chess City,” the meeting ground for some of the world’s best chess players, and the newly opened Buddhist Temple in the area. Even though the weather was incredibly hot, it was a nice change of pace from the chilly temperatures of Saint Petersburg.
Elista was fun, but didn’t even compare to Taganrog. We started off with a walking tour of the city, where we saw interesting monuments and parks around the city. Our tour guide also told us that the statue on the back on the 500 ruble note is actually a statue in Taganrog, even though it says Arkanglesk on the bill. Apparently they have another one in Arkangelsk, but the statue in Taganrog was built first. Who knew?
The next city we saw was Tanais. Dating as far back as the Bronze Age, the city, at the height of its prominence, was the farthest northeastern extent of Hellenistic Greece when it was used as a trading post between Greek traders from the South and nomads living on the Steppe. Although it is still up for debate, some have even theorized that the city was founded by Scandinavians during the time of the Viking Conquests. With all this in mind, it was a real treat to be able to visit a place like Tanais and see all of the excavations.
After a brief stop in Goryachi Klouch, a city known for its clean water springs, we hopped back on the train and headed home to Saint Petersburg. The train ride was long, but it was all part of the experience of a great trip.
We’ve returned to Saint Peterbsurg, and the semester has started to wind down to an end. Final Exams are quickly approaching, as are the White Nights! I only wish I’d brought more summer clothes with me when I first arrived, because the weather is getting very hot. I’m really excited to be staying for the summer semester, and can’t wait to see what great new experiences are in store.