I just got back from vacation in Siberia. Siberia was great. I stayed in ” Tomsk ” (Tomck). The hotel I stayed in was first rate. One of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. It’s a small town, but also a university town, There are several medical and other universities there. The town is about 400 years old and was founded as a fortress to protect Russia ‘s eastern border.
I was surprised that the people seem to be rather well off, or at least better off than I was expecting. Most people wore nice clothes and it seemed that everyone has a cellphone. Along the main drag, there was at least three cellphone stores per block.
The day I arrived there was some random religious procession down the street in front of my hotel. Also, Friday was the last day of school for the summer break. The girls were wearing traditional white “buns” in their hair and some garment that looks like a maids uniform.
Alcohol was everywhere. You can buy beer from little stands along the street and just about everywhere. The coffee shops had a full bar which was liquor for coffee drinks.
One place I went to had a full array of liquor and was manned by two 16 year old girls. While there is some ordinance against drinking in public, it was not enforced and it was common to see people walking around with a bottle. I even saw some kid with a bottle of beer in his hand walk up to a policeman on the street and ask for directions.
There was almost no English as Siberia is not a typical tourist destination. I could not have ordered a meal without Elena’s help. Even then, it was a challenge. Elena’s English is basic, so while she could read the menu, she had a hard time translating it to English for me sometimes and had to consult a Russian-English dictionary just to order food.
I had a great time with Elena. My favorite part of the trip was the Russian bathhouse. There was one commercialized version in town, and we also went to her father’s “banya” which was located at his Dacha a few miles outside of town. It was the best vacation I’ve ever had. I am going to bring her over here. I also want to build a dacha and a banya.