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In the City of Brides - Ivanovo, Russia

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When I think of brides, I envision romance, passion and vivid images. Ivanovo has long been known as the "city of brides" due to its historic textile industry, which brought 100's of thousands of female workers to the region. Yet all of these flowery, descriptive terms don't describe the emotions I felt in this city. Perhaps for men there's some intrigue in visiting a place that has a reputation for being filled with beautiful women yearning for male attention, who smile and flirt at the drop of a coin, or are more easily seduced by male charms. I think these stereotypes of the city are a bit outdated, and I read that the male/female ratio is now almost equal, especially for those under 30. Ivanovo to me is not really distinguishable from other larger cities we visited in March, except that the Soviet legacy seemed stronger here than in places like Vologda or Ples, which I'll write about next week. In some ways, it's a city of contrasts - the old, Soviet style mixed with more modern landscapes. Let's take a look.

1. We reached Ivanovo from Suzdal, located about 90km away. Ah, my favorite narrow Russian roads. No proper shoulders on which to pull over, and big trucks coming at you in head-on traffic. I guess I've now grown accustomed to it, after so many long road trips in the country.

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2. It's always interesting for me to see the various items being sold on rural roads, everything from banya twigs to cheap, massive stuffed animals. Almost always you can find men selling windshield wiper fluid, which is an essential item for long road journeys during Russian winter.

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3. Welcome sign for the city.I like these landmarks, which let you know when you've crossed into a new region or city. We have the same in the USA, where welcome signs appear when you cross State lines on highways.

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4. We were greeted by two local journalists who walked with us the entire day. Unfortunately, neither spoke English so I didn't really understand any of the interesting folklore or history being told by the locals. I can only share personal emotions and some photos, but perhaps I have some readers from this area who can provide more detail and history about some of the images. We met the journalists in the early morning, right on the riverbank. To the left, you can see some modern buildings. I think they are newer residential apartments.

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5. Lenin hangs over the city. It's my understanding that Ivanovo was a hotbed for activity during the revolution, and one of the first meetings of the Bolsheviks took place here.

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6. Monument to the fighters of the revolution. There was a long story and joke told by the locals, something about a nickname for the statue that relates to the prohibition of alcohol sales after 11 p.m. during Soviet times.  So, the statue is called "get up already 11", or something to that effect. I don't know the proper English translation or meaning.

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7.  My eyes were immediately drawn to the legendary hammer and sickle. What do you think about buildings like this? Should the symbols remain, or should the outside of the buildings be redesigned?

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8. The Soviet legacy was immediately felt when we checked into the hotel. :) It was necessary to present my passport, show my registration card as a foreign visitor, and then we were handed a card with a room number, but no key. I was tired and became confused. How do we get in the room?? Rolled my suitcase through this hall, and at the end of it sat a sullen babushka. I handed her the card, and she handed me the key. I've never experienced this at any other Russian hotel. I think she lived there, taking care of all the housekeeping as well.

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9. Worst and most uncomfortable hotel room of the trip.

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10. View directly outside of the hotel.

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11. But the city is not all doom and gloom! There are some modern and colorful buildings mixed into the landscapes.

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12. Very bright exhibit called The Walk of Fame, which is dedicated to rescuers. Shiny, red fire engines are displayed along the city sidewalks, some older tanks also.

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13. Of course, the sidewalks and areas around this attraction were poorly maintained and covered in a sheet of ice, as is the case everywhere.

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14. Locals don't seem to give a damn, and maneuver through the uncleared ice, snow, puddles and holes with little effort. I guess it's a life skill you quickly learn growing up in Russia. During the day, a heated debate arose with one of the journalist about who should be responsible for clearing sidewalks in the city. The local's opinion was that city administration should play no role or responsibility for monitoring conditions. As I've written before, such mentality is totally foreign to me and I can't understand how people make no effort to improve winter walking conditions and ease of movement in their hometowns.

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15. Beautiful ducks, with perfect posture! :)

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16. Every Russian city is filled with Orthodox churches, but I especially liked the entrance to this one, with the antique looking clock.

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17. There's a festive part of the city with its own version of Disneyland. "Silver Park", a children's park filled with colorful images and fun rides. Excellent place for families to come and play in summer, and in winter also. Entrance fee is only 50 rubles.

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18. The rides are closed in the snowy weather, but the area outside the park is also cheerful, and filled with statues of cartoon characters which are sure to entertain young kids during a winter walk. A lot of benches around here for people to sit and admire the scenery also.I think I mentioned it before, but I love these ferris wheels, and try to ride them in all places I visit. But, I've not yet taken a ride on one in Russia, or seen many of them.

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19. I've seen a lot of photos from Soviet style playgrounds, filled with creepy statues and images, but in this park there are smiling clowns that are actually trash bins. Hippos also. :)  It's a fun way to liven up the grey skies and snowy landscapes of winter. But, this is still Russia, so the park has a confused Indian freezing in the snow, and a rather gloomy Snow White with her dwarfs.
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20. Tree trunks wrapped in picturesque, hand-sewn fabrics. What is the significance? Who cares really, when it brightens the city.

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21. Traditional wooden house.

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22. Now, back to the brides, love and lust. On the bridges over the river there are numerous love locks, which is now standard in almost any city around the globe.

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23. The river walkway is nice and even romantic in the snowy weather, but there are no clear paths. There's nothing to do here, except admire the scenery. Maybe in summer there are a lot of stands selling drinks or food, but in winter it's rather desolate.

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24. Young women in winter furs. What do you think? Anyone want to take them as a bride? :) It seems like a lot of young people leave Ivanovo, in search of better opportunities in Moscow, which isn't far away. Yet those that remain appear invested in the city, trying to bring more cultural events and improve the city landscapes and lifestyle. Hopefully they have the support of the local government.

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25. Lonely musician, living in his own world. He sat in the freezing cold, playing his accordion for no one but himself. I once read a poem that the accordion always sings, even if the tune falls on deaf or distant ears. This is one of my favorite instruments.

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26. Special thanks to the local journalists who took time to walk with us in the city and meet in the evening for a warm drink in a local cafe. If you're interested in Ivanovo, be sure to visit the blog of resident Michael Shor michail_shor, who served as our primary guide.
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Have you been to the city of brides?

Have a nice weekend! I'm glad it's now officially autumn, and summer and the warm temperatures are quickly fading away.



Comments

( 118 comments — Leave a comment )
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panterkin
Sep. 25th, 2015 11:15 am (UTC)
Off: I've gotten your postcard, thank you so much! Would you like to get one from me? :)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 11:38 am (UTC)
Sure! I will send you my new address in a private message. Glad you received the card!
(Anonymous)
Sep. 25th, 2015 11:35 am (UTC)
Hi, Shannon! When you want tell us about Kazan?)))
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 11:37 am (UTC)
Soon, sorry. I'm very slow in writing travel reports. They take a lot of time, and almost no one reads them. :( Kazan was the last stop on the route.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 25th, 2015 11:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 12:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sergechel - Sep. 25th, 2015 12:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 01:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yarowind - Sep. 25th, 2015 06:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 08:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yarowind - Sep. 26th, 2015 03:28 am (UTC) - Expand
ambival
Sep. 25th, 2015 11:35 am (UTC)
I love New-York


peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 11:36 am (UTC)
Re: I love New-York
And what do these photos show? Clear sidewalks. :) I don't like New York.
kremlin_curant
Sep. 25th, 2015 11:53 am (UTC)
>>>Have you been to the city of brides?
<<<

Yes, I have.
I had been lived in this town since 1966 until 1996 with 4 years gap while Iived in Kostroma region. Last time I visited Ivanovo it was in 2007. I would said the town looks much better than was then if no Thor wouldn't be your tour guide.
This guy was very active Nashi leader and for me He can't be trusted.

But your report is very good and deserves my approval as former Ivanovo resident.
Except maybe the assertion it is town of brides. This is a myth any ivanovetz was laughing at. But people love this fairytale and spread it around the globe. Even during the best time of the soviet weaver industry rate of males to females in this town was 47% to 53%.
Nothing close to "hundreds thousands of single want-to-be brides". Actually Ivanovo population is less than 500 thousands strong.
Some prevalence of females was due very young females age 14-16 who were studiyng for the weaver profession and then worked here for the mandatory 3 years.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 01:22 pm (UTC)
Thor. :)) Well, he seemed like a nice guy to me but I see on Facebook that he uses the word "pindos" a lot and I hate this term. What is "Nashi?"
(no subject) - kremlin_curant - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kremlin_curant - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - kremlin_curant - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
andrey_kaminsky
Sep. 25th, 2015 11:57 am (UTC)
Прекрасное чтение
A great way to find out what life was like in cities such as Ivanovo 100 years ago:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3783
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 01:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Прекрасное чтение
Thanks! And what's your city like? Is there a lot of Soviet symbolism still there?
Re: Прекрасное чтение - andrey_kaminsky - Sep. 25th, 2015 01:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
pro100_petrov
Sep. 25th, 2015 12:36 pm (UTC)
I had never been in Ivanovo.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 01:23 pm (UTC)
Now you know what it looks like. :) There are much more interesting places to visit in Russia, in my opinion.
(no subject) - pro100_petrov - Sep. 25th, 2015 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 01:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pro100_petrov - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 25th, 2015 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 05:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
!!! - shkadov64 - Jan. 12th, 2016 09:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: !!! - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 12th, 2016 09:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: !!! - shkadov64 - Jan. 12th, 2016 09:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
dorli87
Sep. 25th, 2015 12:48 pm (UTC)
Why you do not like a room in a hotel? It seems ok at the first glimpse.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:25 pm (UTC)
Beds were very, very small and uncomfortable and the bathroom was a closet. It was so small I couldn't even take a decent photo of it. :) Of course, this is fine. I'm not a high maintenance woman, but it was not my favorite hotel. In Russia, I like the ibis hotel chain. Very nice rooms, and friendly service. I stayed in these hotels in Yaroslavl and Kazan.
(no subject) - dorli87 - Sep. 25th, 2015 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dorli87 - Sep. 25th, 2015 04:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
sergechel
Sep. 25th, 2015 12:56 pm (UTC)
probably you need a proper shoes for snow and ice walking.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 01:26 pm (UTC)
I always wear boots, but they probably don't have the best traction, so I constantly slip on the ice and have to walk slowly. I think next time I'll bring some type of spikes for the boots.
(no subject) - serjiojitser - Sep. 25th, 2015 01:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 01:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - serjiojitser - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aavenger - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aavenger - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seadevil001 - Sep. 25th, 2015 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seadevil001 - Sep. 25th, 2015 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 04:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seadevil001 - Sep. 25th, 2015 04:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
aavenger
Sep. 25th, 2015 12:56 pm (UTC)
Nice birds :) Were they also aggressive and trying to attack you? :)
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 01:27 pm (UTC)
No, these ducks were more gentle. :)
(no subject) - aavenger - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
serjiojitser
Sep. 25th, 2015 01:42 pm (UTC)
>male/female ratio is now almost equal

females are looking to leave this depressing city, this is why they are "easy to marry" not because of absence of men.

женщины пытаются покинуть этот депрессивный город, поэтому они лего выходят замуж за иногородних, а не потому, что нет мужчин.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 01:44 pm (UTC)
Why do you think the city is depressing? I've seen much worse cities.
(no subject) - serjiojitser - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
!!! - shkadov64 - Jan. 12th, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
unmodern_person
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:19 pm (UTC)
Interesting view on the Russian reality through the eyes of a person totally different mentality.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Sure, such scenes are common in a lot of Russian cities, but for me they are unusual. We don't have the hammer and sickle symbol engraved on buildings here, nor so many statues of one particular leader.
caramba_hola
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:25 pm (UTC)
Winter view of most russian cities and towns is depressing. Hope that Ivanovo is better in spring and summer.
As I understood you couldn't find there beautiful young brides?
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 02:27 pm (UTC)
I wasn't looking for a bride. :) Women there are the same as everywhere. Some beautiful, some not. And what is beautiful to me, is probably not beautiful to the average man. I like very natural appearances, not flashy make-up or provocative clothing.
bopobyc
Sep. 25th, 2015 03:43 pm (UTC)
My family is from there and I was born there too, though we moved out when I was only couple years old. Never wanted to go there actually, and now even less desire after reading this...
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 03:55 pm (UTC)
I don't have any desire to return either. :)
(no subject) - bopobyc - Sep. 25th, 2015 03:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 03:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
elinelisky
Sep. 25th, 2015 03:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this post. I send it to my american friends, let they have fun too. ))
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 03:55 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! I'm sure they will happy to see the post is in English. :)
(no subject) - elinelisky - Sep. 25th, 2015 03:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 25th, 2015 03:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elinelisky - Sep. 25th, 2015 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
seadevil001
Sep. 25th, 2015 04:03 pm (UTC)
Seems nice enough. Thank you!
peacetraveler22
Sep. 25th, 2015 04:05 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! :)
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