Being in my mid forties, there are times when I question my life choices! I wonder what will happen to me when I get too old to travel. At times I already feel too old, particularly on a fast paced FAM trip.
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All my doubts vanished when I met the 91 year old travel inspiration, Elena Erkhova from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. She is an Instagram sensation but she is even more sensational in real life. Right after meeting her, I told myself that the next time I started doubting my ability to travel, I would kick myself!
I had the pleasure of meeting Baba Lena as she is affectionately known, at the Yushin Brothers in Krasnoyarsk. I visited Krasnoyarsk with Follow Up Siberia after winning a seat in their second contest. It was wonderful evening where our hosts had arranged for us to meet various local people.
Baba Lena herself started traveling at the age of 83 “as she didn’t have the time or money to do so earlier.” (Quoted in the Moscow Times, do read the full article here). She has been extensively covered in the English media you just need to search her name.
It was a pleasure to hear Baba Lena talk. She had the floor in raptures with her stories though we got to understand her via our charming translator Lucy Dobrynina. One of her statements that stands out was “take everything from life, it is short!”
I went to greet Baba Lena after her talk and took a selfie with her. I generally don’t binge on selfies but I genuinely wanted one with her. We could not talk much because of the language barrier but the affection was unmistakable! She held my hands and asked which country I was from? I told her in English that she was an inspiration.
We had a group photo (first photo in this post) and then she climbed down the stairs with a young man who I presume to be her grand son (also seen in the selfie above)!
The next time you see me cribbing about my age, agility, capability to travel just remind me of this post! Meeting Baba Lena has been one incredible experience on the trip to Ktasnoyarsk, Siberia!
I have a love/fear relationship with adventure. Before the adventure begins I fear it a little (OK sometimes a lot) but I love it after I am done with it. But the zip line or the zip rider is one activity I can approach without fear for the simple reason that I have done it many times in the past. I have done in over the sea in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and surrounded by the tress in Chiang Mai, Thailand! I had no inkling that I would be going on the zip rider in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia too.
The length of the zip line at the Bobrovy Log Fun Park is about 760 meters (2490 feet) and the top speed is 88 kmph (55 mph). Four people can ride side by side and we all were from the Follow Up Siberia group! And you get to go up a ski lift to reach the Zip Riding point.
I did not approach the station with my heart thudding in my mouth as I have lived to tell the the tale in all my past encounters! I presumed this was not going to be any different! However, it was for the first time that I was trying to make a video on my GoPro as I was flying on the line!
I did strap the camera to my wrist just to be sure that it would not fall in the abyss below even by mistake. I did not find it unduly difficult to use the camera on the go!
I had no idea before I heard myself that I scream and laugh so much during the ride! I am glad that I had the presence of mind to do something with the camera! I think it is fun to get the experience on the video! Here is having many more such screaming experiences across the globe!
I visited Krasnoyarsk in Siberia in August 2018 as I won a place in the second batch of the Follow Up Siberia Contest. While my thoughts changed a lot by just taking part in the contest, visiting the place was such a beautiful experience.
I tried to shake off the stereotypes about Siberia before visiting and did shed many a myths sitting right in my home, but till the very end I thought it would be cold! I cringe and laugh when I see my own video before the trip! But here I am after the trip, ready to bust a few stereotypes associated with Siberia.
There is Always Snow in Siberia!
Almost everyone I met before the trip told me I would find snow everywhere. I always look at the weather before I go any place new or for that matter even old. The weather forecast for my stay in August was 12-29 degree Celsius and light rains.
But everyone told me there would be snow and I sort of expected it too! I was a little sad actually to find no trace of snow anywhere at all!
The Verdict: There was no snow, not even a sign of it when I visited Krasnoyarsk, Siberia in August 2018!
No Snow in the Summer? But It Will Be Very Cold Out There!
I fell for this one for sure, listen to me in the pre-trip video! Even after looking at the temperatures in advance I somehow thought it would be cold! I had two light sweaters and one shawl with me. I did feel a little cold the first night as I was tired after my Delhi Moscow flight. Moscow Krasnoyarsk was another 4 hours of flight the very next day.
But from the second day in Krasnoyarsk all the warm clothes firmly stayed in my hotel room. One day, the temperature reached 30 degree Celsius in the afternoon!
The Verdict: Siberia does get a summer, in August the weather was mild and pleasant. It was not cold at all in August.
No One Lives There
When I thought of Siberia, I thought of wide open spaces! No doubt if you move out of the city center of Krasnoyarsk, there are wide open spaces. But the city is home to one million people! And it is modern.
So get used to finding people around you!
The Verdict: One million people live in Krasnoyarsk alone!
It is All Wilderness
If you are seeking wilderness you will have to go and visit the Stolby Nature Reserve near Krasnoyarsk. Just don’t expect it in the city center! For in the city center you will find a Subway and a pub named New York! Also the Novotel where I had a comfortable stay.
The Verdict: You can find wilderness but not in the city centers!
Nothing Grows There in Siberia
On the contrary you will find flowers everywhere in August in Krasnoyarsk, be it the city center, near the churches or in the wild.
The Verdict: Count the number of flowers in the picture and then tell me nothing grows in Siberia!
There are Bears on the Road!
Not a chance of this one being true! How many bears did I saw in Krasnoyarsk Sibera? A big fat zero, same as the first set score for Rafael Nadal vs. Dominic Thiem in the US Open 2018 quarter final, Nadal 0, Thiem 6. It is another matter that Nadal went on to win the match!
The Verdict: There are no bears on the road!
Russians/Siberians Don’t Smile!
I don’t know where this one comes from! I visited only two places, Krasnoyarsk and Moscow and there was no dearth of people smiling.
I met so many smiling people in Krasnoyarsk, Svetlana Yushkova being one of those gentle, genial souls! We met her in the Stolby Nature Reserve and she absolutely made our day with her guiding through the forest!
The Verdict: While I don’t find Russia on the top of my list of sorry/thank you stand in the queue nation but smiling and warm they surely are!
You Will Drink a Lot of Vodka
Unfortunately this is also not true! You can drink Vodka, but you get to drink so many other type of alcohol too, like wine, beer or the local drink Kvass! No shortage of coffee as well! Like any other place in the world you have many drinks to choose from!
The Verdict: Choose Kvass if you wish to have a local experience.
So, if have a trip to Siberia in summer do not expect snow, cold and bears. However, do check the temperatures before going anywhere in the world!