All About the Romanovs

Outside our hotel

July 3: Actually, Ekaterinburg, first known as Sverdlovsk,  is really known for three things. The unfortunate end of the Czar Nicholas II and his family, the place where Gary Powers was shot down in his U-2 spy plane in 1960 and the birthplace of Boris Yeltsin and home of the University named for him. We had a full day of touring and since no one had car repairs to do, this is what we did.

First a quick stop at the military museum where a bit of Power’s plane is on display. It was closed, so we only saw the outside. Another interesting fact, this was a closed city, even to Russians until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. Our guide, Tatiana, grew up here and told us, if you arrived by train without a permit to enter the city, you were put back on the train for you departure city. She has seen first hand all the changes here and her description of the communist regime and since was quite insightful.

The big part of the day was devoted to the Romanov history. The house where the Czar and his family were imprisoned by the Bolsheviks in 1918 was torn down but as history recreates itself, now the Church on the Blood (aptly named), a Russian Orthodox church, has been built over the exact location and you can visit the cellar room where the executions took place.

Then if that doesn’t instill your sense of tragedy, you can visit, as we did the site, (now a monastery), where their bodies where dumped into a mine shaft, dismembered, and burned with acid.  The Romanovs are now considered saints-times change- and 7 churches have been erected at this monastery in honor of the  7 family members that were killed. There were as many souvenir shops as churches. Seemed a little commercial but the wooden churches scattered in the woods were interesting for the first 20 minutes.

It was not until 2008, that DNA confirmed all 7 were executed. You may remember that for about 10 years an American woman claimed to be Anastasia. Turns out she was Polish and somehow gained the knowledge about Anastasia passed down from one of the men (all Polish) that guarded the family while exiled in Ekaterinburg.

Russia seems quite capable of renaming towns, streets, saints, importance of events and most everyone. No wonder their novels are so hard to read with each character having a long list of names that keep Westerners making lists to keep track of everyone in the book!

Tomorrow Perm and a stop at the border between Asia and Europe.


P.S. From Ed. I am once again reminded of why I don’t do bus tours. If they last 2  hours, this is usually about 1 1/2 hours longer than I want and about 1 3/4 hours more of information than I want.

About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
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3 Responses to All About the Romanovs

  1. TBC says:

    I remember going to Yaroslavl. We had what was then called an Intourist guide. We were supposed to go to the artists’ center in the morning and the industrial one in the afternoon. A small group of us had a fabulous time in the artists’ center and had wonderful conversations with several of the artists. When it came time to leave, I told the Intourist guide that we would not be going to the industrial center.

    “But you must,” she said.

    “No, actually, we don’t,” I responded. We much prefer to stay here and chat some more with the artists.

    “How will you get back to the boat (on the Volga)? You’ll get lost. The boat won’t wait.”

    “That’s not a problem. We were walking by ourselves all along the river and saw xyz church…” etc., etc.

    She looked shocked, not only at our independence, but the fact that we had been loose on the town without Soviet supervision. Clearly, she was not going to budge us. One of the artists to whom we had been speaking said he would make sure we didn’t get lost.

    She wasn’t comfortable, but she had no choice.

    It was soon after the beginning of Glasnost, and clearly, she had not dealt with independent souls before.

    It’s fun to hear of your adventures, even if you are getting more history than you want!


    TBC and Arnie

  2. Carla says:

    I hear ya, Ed. Guides often go out of their way to give you too many boring details. I detest bus tours too. Imagine being a travel journalist and having to do trips – always – with overenthusiastic guides! Glad Stewball is being a good boy. Have fun there!

  3. crhowle says:

    Glad you finally had a day off to sightsee. No car repairs especially good news! Yep, bus tours can be long. They do save you time spent finding your way around although you two are quite skilled at that!! Love to you from us.

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