Krasnoyarsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia
Voluntary Exile in SiberiaI went with my best friend to adopt her son from here a few years ago ... in February. I saw spectacular ice sculptures, practiced my Russian, and learned that 40 degrees below zero is the same in Fahrenheit and Celsius. Cold.
Anton Chekhov visited (and liked) this thriving city which is now home to 950,000 residents. The winter is brightened by brightly-painted green, pink, and yellow buildings set amongst the requisite Soviet blocks. Speakers blast American pop songs like My Way and Every Time You Go Away on the ice-coated streets and there are good restaurants serving obscure delicacies like "Fillet of Cuban Wood Deer" and "Little Salted Flesh of Sturgeon in Berry-like Sauce with Spiceries."
I went to the train station to see the hulking trains of the the Trans-Siberian Railway depart for their 37-hour journey eastward to Yekaterinburg. (I envied the boarding passengers as I dream of someday riding this storied train.)
The magnificent Yenisei River runs through Kras en route to the Arctic Ocean. The Regional Museum is a bizarre pink hodge-podge of Art Nouveau and ancient Egyptian temple architecture. Exhibits include an ancient Cossacks explorer ship, Siberian tribal fashion through the centuries, and stuffed Siberian animals. I'd never heard of it before I visited, but I now know that Krasnoyarsk is unsurprisingly cold and surprisingly cool.