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Friday, May 24, 2013

Tsarry, Tsarry Nights

Thursday Night, 9 PM (again)
Ekaterinburg, 1814 Kilometres

After more delays, totaling five hours, we reach Ekaterinburg or Yekatinburg at 9 in the evening. This time, though, we can actually see it. It doesn't get dark here until 11:30 PM.

Although still on the Asian side of the Urals, this is a very European city. People are fashionably-dressed, in terms of what passes as fashionable here (shorts worn with hose; many women sport stilettos, but unlike the Italians, they haven't quite mastered the art of walking without wobbling). 20-somethings are skateboarding, and at sunset, young lovers stroll the romantic walkway lining the city pond. It seems a very modern city, despite that fact that during the Cold War, the presence of the military and weapons manufacturing made this a closed city over which Boris Yeltsin presided in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At the time, it was called Sverdlovsk, named after one of Lenin's right-hand men.

The country's fourth largest city is best known for its pivotal role in 20th century Russian history. Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia, was exiled here with his family after being deposed. The Bolsheviks then knocked off the last of the Romanovs here in 1918.

In the ultimate display of Catholic guilt, Nicholas was canonized after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The impressive Church upon the Blood was built in 2003 as a form of repentance, confession, and remembrance.

The pcitures above: That resembling the Washington Monument is an unfinished television tower. Its claim to fame is that it is the world's tallest unfinished TV tower. The green building serves at Vladimir Putin's home away from home when he visits Ekaterinburg, which happens about every other year.

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