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Alone in Vologda



I found myself in Vologda near the end of winter. The last journey was unique because I was left alone a lot and forced to handle the challenges of visiting places in Russia without the aid of a native speaker. About Vologda, I don't have much to say. I had no idea what to see here, with the exception of the Kremlin and a bunch of ancient churches. These are the same attractions appearing in almost every Russian town, and I was bored with these landscapes after visiting the Golden Ring cities. The day was cold, rainy and grey. A completely expressionless sky, not one cloud or hint of color, so even taking photos was no fun. Maybe I was just tired after the long road trip, but I found this city to be depressing and uninteresting.Read more...Collapse )

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( 112 comments — Leave a comment )
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york_shambles
Sep. 11th, 2015 08:02 am (UTC)
..."and there's a huge lace museum here but I couldn't find it" - LOL )
part of its wall can be seen on the main photo on the right side. it's at the Kremlin square opposite to the Cathedral.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 05:47 pm (UTC)
Well, I was very close! :) In Russia, things are not properly marked and there's very little signage. I could not even find the entrance to this main Kremlin area from where I was walking on the sidewalk. Or, maybe I just didn't notice the signs due to language barriers. In the U.S, we have signs and explanations for everything, esp. in prime tourist spots.
(no subject) - york_shambles - Sep. 11th, 2015 06:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 11th, 2015 07:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
no_xit
Sep. 11th, 2015 08:20 am (UTC)

having seen the google street views I was under the impression that American cities are the same as well: a few skyscrapers and endless single-storey suburbs. Am I mistaken?

peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 05:49 pm (UTC)
I think U.S. cities are more diverse. First, the landscapes vary a lot from State to State. It's true that most big cities are congested and filled with skyscrapers, but not all of them. For instance, where I am in Washington, DC there are NO skyscrapers! This is why I like it. They are prohibited for security reasons, and there's a lot of greenery and parks here. It's not such a concrete jungle. Even the most wild and exotic city - NYC - still has a huge green area and park (Central Park).
aborigen72
Sep. 11th, 2015 09:08 am (UTC)
Вологотские рОбята

ЗабОдали паровоз )))
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 05:50 pm (UTC)
Locomotive?
(no subject) - aborigen72 - Sep. 12th, 2015 03:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 12th, 2015 03:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Когнитивный Диссонанс
Sep. 11th, 2015 09:30 am (UTC)
Hello from Vologda!
You're so diplomatic in describing the shortcomings of our city.
Personally, I think that it is much worse.
But it is fair to say that you have chosen the worst time of year to visit it. From late spring to late summer is much nicer...
It is strange that you do not manage to get to the museum of lace - it is right in front of the yellow building on your photo №4 (on the Kremlin Square).
A strange wooden structure in the photo №15 actually slide for children. Every summer it dismantled and re-built each winter. It is believed that it is used for entertainment. Frankly, I think that the purpose of this absurd and ugly building - to buy off people for unmade streets and steal some money from the budget.

Edited at 2015-09-11 09:32 am (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 05:52 pm (UTC)
Hi! I've seen much worse. :) As I mentioned in another comment, Totma is apocalyptic. We also stopped there. At least in Vologda the residents are friendly. And it's good the kids have a slide to play on. :) I didn't see any other playgrounds in the city, maybe they exist and I missed them.
old_perduccio
Sep. 11th, 2015 10:48 am (UTC)
why don't locals demand that officials or the city take care of sidewalks? Or, implement some type of regulation so shop owners are forced to clear their entrances or face penalties?

It wouldn't be Russia then :) Russians are notorious for their passive attitude when it comes to demanding something from their local authorities. Now that the local authorities aren't even elected in Russia, the locals' opinion doesn't have any influence on their actions; the only thing that counts is avoiding the wrath of the federal government. But that is easlily done by being politically loyal.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 05:55 pm (UTC)
In the U.S., if citizens are not satisfied with the actions of the authorities in a particular area then the power is replaced, and every few years. This is the advantage of not having a dictator. :) In Russia many are not happy with medicine, education, roads, corruption, cuts budget, but at the same time 80+% of the population approves of the actions of the authorities. This is a paradox that I'll never understand!!
(no subject) - old_perduccio - Sep. 11th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 11th, 2015 07:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
sinus24
Sep. 11th, 2015 10:49 am (UTC)
So surprised to see pictures of my home town in your travel book. The main word is ALONE, that has spoiled the staying. You'd better check for a friend in Vologda before visiting it in the most depressive season. However thanks for very diplomatic description of VOlogda center. If you'd travel up north this depression would be worse.

P.S. For better picture of russian depression check out this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaR9oIF7zyM
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 05:58 pm (UTC)
I've rolled through many depressing Russian villages and provinces. :(
sectopod
Sep. 11th, 2015 12:22 pm (UTC)
Snow in Russia is no problem :) I dislike if ground absolutely cleared from snow - I feel uncomfortable, because it's associated with cold stone or metal.

3. There is typical memorial table on Green buildilg. This building may be example of old architecture or historical place or smb famous lived there (there are many memorial table in Siberia on houses where great exiles lived).

13. Usual scene. You can ask driver to stop somewhere you need. Often he try to help you.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 05:59 pm (UTC)
I also love snow! But only if it's white beauty, not all this crap with mud and gravel. Remember my story about the Russian village and forest house in which I slept alone. There was beautiful snow there - like something out of a fairy tale. :)
anna_sollanna
Sep. 11th, 2015 12:34 pm (UTC)
I've been to Vologda only twice, both times me and my husband spent a night in a hotel on our route to and then from his parents' place. It was 2010 when there was a scorching heat in Russia (and it was very stuffy and unpleasant in the hotel). And as far as I saw Vologda from our car it was a very dull city even in summer. Quiet, stuffy and dull. No any beautiful embankments though there is a river there. What stroke me the most were Vologda's traffic lights with no yellow at all, only red and green, and no digits to show when the red ends and the green can be expected, so we lost a lot of time standing at this city's crossroads. (Btw Vologda's ring road does have traffic lights too!)
Free toilets are still the big problem of all the Russian cities, I remember the time when even paid street toilets were such a problem and I had to keep in mind during my hiking all the rare toilets I knew...
As for the bus which stopped in the middle of the road - it is another Russian problem. It is very convenient for passengers to go into and out everywhere they wish and very inconvenient for the rest of the drivers. As far as I know there are Russian cities where this is totally allowed and there are cities where this is completely prohibited.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC)
God bless the USA for free and abundant toilets! :) It is a serious problem in other countries, esp. when you're traveling long distances by car.
pin_gwin
Sep. 11th, 2015 01:42 pm (UTC)
This is a place to imagine what 19-th century living looked like. You can touch, breath and see through time -- if you wish to, otherwise, you are right, there is not much to do there, and old Russian towns have certain similarities. I hope you carry "Thermos" in these winter trips..
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC)
I don't carry a thermos, or even wear a coat! :) My body is immune to cold.
nar_row
Sep. 11th, 2015 05:33 pm (UTC)
Well, our city is really depressing during the early spring.
I like it anyway, it is my home. But I can understand you did't like it. It's a shame. :(
And, it's a shame that I couldn't be with you to brighten up a little that boring day. :(

Picture 15 - yes, it is a slide. Very big slide. Isn't that kind of obvious? :)

Edited at 2015-09-11 05:33 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 05:39 pm (UTC)
I could not tell it was a slide when it was covered in ice and snow! :) But, it is still strange to me to have only a huge slide and not an ordinary playground with other things for the children to play on. Yes, it's a pity we could not meet but I received your email too late, or the times didn't work. I can't remember. The city wasn't so bad, just nothing interesting or memorable for me. Most people love their home cities, so I understand your positive feelings for the place.
(no subject) - nar_row - Sep. 11th, 2015 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 11th, 2015 05:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nar_row - Sep. 11th, 2015 06:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 11th, 2015 06:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
hello - (Anonymous) - Feb. 6th, 2016 03:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: hello - peacetraveler22 - Feb. 9th, 2016 12:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - old_perduccio - Sep. 11th, 2015 07:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nar_row - Sep. 11th, 2015 07:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
sergechel
Sep. 11th, 2015 05:40 pm (UTC)
15. What is this? I stood and stared for a few minutes, and I never figured it out.

peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 06:01 pm (UTC)
So, the slide is intended only for snow? Or, they use it also in summer?
(no subject) - sergechel - Sep. 11th, 2015 06:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 11th, 2015 06:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
yarowind
Sep. 11th, 2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
Winter - it's not good time for many Russian towns:).
Very interesting story, thank you!
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 06:12 pm (UTC)
Have you been to this city?
(no subject) - yarowind - Sep. 11th, 2015 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 11th, 2015 06:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yarowind - Sep. 11th, 2015 06:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
notabler
Sep. 11th, 2015 06:42 pm (UTC)
I haven't and I have no desire to go. The world is too big and beautiful without.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 06:43 pm (UTC)
You're right! There are so many beautiful places to see, not sure why I always end up in cities like this. :)
letberg
Sep. 11th, 2015 07:37 pm (UTC)
Vologda region was one of the poorest before Soviet times. After Saint-Petersburg was built, it lost its commercial role in transit of salt, pearls and other goods from Arhangelsk. The city of Vologda was wooden (except the Kremlin that is an ancient fortress), so most of the historical houses have been perished by now. Only churches remain.
The region economics was based mainly on growing potatoes and linen. In Soviet years they tried to put there some industry but not much. Now you see, the region is still poor.

Edited at 2015-09-11 07:39 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 11th, 2015 08:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the background info. Why was it a center for linen? Was there a larger female population during certain periods of history? I know this is the case with Ivanovo, which is still considered the "city of brides." We stopped there also. Maybe I'll write a report about my visit someday.
(Deleted comment)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 14th, 2015 02:56 pm (UTC)
I didn't understand why all the cafes were closed? It was frustrating, but perhaps they don't have enough business to remain open in the winter months. They are probably there to accommodate the summer tourists, but I don't think this town is popular on the foreign tourist route. American and European tours are usually only limited to Moscow, Peter and the Golden Ring cities. Few foreigners see anything else, unless they travel solo and independently in Russia (like me).
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