What are Dubai and Maldives now? Or the same Thailand. All this is banality, banality, even a little vulgarity. This will surprise no one. And I’ll tell you a secret, you won’t even get strong impressions on your own. Let’s say I was in Dubai. Expensive, warm and uninteresting. Just countless identical skyscrapers. It is clear that they are all slightly different, one has a slanting roof, another has a dome, the third has a cone. But in essence, it is a completely artificial area in the middle of nowhere, that is, in the desert. To the Russian eye, looking at this only brings despair to the soul.
Another thing is the North of Russia. In general, cold, expensive and very interesting. And most importantly, it is somehow close to the heart. And it is even perceived as some kind of success.
Anyone can fly to Dubai on the double-decker A380. But in the polar night you decide to go five hundred kilometers along wide roads along the Kola Peninsula to look for the polar lights or meet the Sami or the freshest sea urchin.
So I decided. To be honest, I’m not a real tourist. He is not one of those people who sleep in the open air, gnaw closed canned food with their teeth, eat roots, or make fire from water. I am a simple Muscovite with all the pretensions that exist within us. I love the comfort, but it does tingle.
Murmansk turned out to be a pretty comfortable city. Almost all hotels are overcrowded, and those who have space find it difficult to withstand criticism. But the sheets are clean, the water is hot, they don’t hit you on the head, that’s good. The truth is that Murmansk was never intended for tourists. It started to be built in 1916 as a strategic port to provide logistics between Russia and its allies during the First World War. We didn’t have time to build anything, a revolution came, then a second, then a civil war. But a port was still needed; An ice-free harbor beyond the Arctic Circle. The city was generally built as a working city. Barracks and houses – solely for housing dockers, construction workers and sailors. Then the war broke out and the city was practically destroyed – what was there burned down, only the chimneys remained, to which the monument in the center was dedicated. It is believed that more bombs fell on Stalingrad alone during the war. However, the port survived. And after the Great Patriotic War, real construction began, after which the Soviet Empire style appeared in Murmansk. Pretty smooth, simple but still diverse urban look. And then construction, as in any microdistrict of the 70-80s – five-story buildings, nine-story buildings, twelve-story buildings. I cannot say that it is beautiful, but you can feel the simple and honest functionality of the city, which forms the main northern border of the country.
The heart of the city is a huge port with cranes and shipyards, repair piers, lighthouses and access roads. There will always be a few giant cargo ships and a nuclear icebreaker in sight. In fact, Russia is the only country in the world with a nuclear icebreaker fleet. These icebreakers are essential for the passage of ships along the Northern Sea Route and therefore make complete economic sense. Locals said that somehow as a precaution, the port was closed for several days and all work there was stopped. It was as if the city itself had died; The familiar harbor noise that created the feeling of life was no longer there.
It’s constantly cold even though it’s only -5. I wonder about the humidity, the wind, and how people live here. This surprise is immediately replaced by admiration – here they live, build, work, love, work and give birth to children. In winter it is almost always dark here, but in summer it is almost always light. However, winter is long and summer is short.
A few kilometers from Murmansk is the village of Kola. For Murmansk residents, the word “kola” is first of all the name of the river, secondly the name of the village, and everything else comes somehow later. The name “Kola” comes from this “Kola”, which means “golden river” in Semitic or extends to the Finno-Ugric “river of fish”. There is no gold to be seen here but there are indeed plenty of fish. And in rivers, lakes and the Barents Sea.
Kola has the most touching flag – it depicts the miraculous Yudo-fish-whale, but its face is like a cat or a brownie. It’s clear that these places are closely associated with whales, but there’s a scaly whale here because the people who came up with this symbol didn’t know whales were mammals.
Any local restaurant, and there are many in Murmansk, will serve fresh fish, scallops and chestnuts. Moreover, all of these will be fresh and will not thaw. And it’s relatively cheap.
After dinner, you should go look for the polar lights as night approaches. This can take as long as you want. Forty minutes to five hours. The guides who do this professionally monitor the cloud cover and the direction of the solar wind and constantly communicate with each other to learn who saw what and where that night. Five kilometers from Murmansk, the same guides joke that this is the first Chinese stop. Unscrupulous guides bring gullible Chinese people here. It seems that it is not far, but the money is the same. And now they say that shine is like that, depending on your luck – maybe it will appear, or maybe it will not. It does not seem to be a rule, but the Chinese do not want anything more from nature.
And I saw the glow. More precisely, he took pictures so that the eye almost did not feel it, but modern matrices in smartphone cameras are even like that.
I have seen many more, but I will tell you about Sami and Teriberka in the next section.
Dolores Johnson is a voice of reason at “Social Bites”. As an opinion writer, she provides her readers with insightful commentary on the most pressing issues of the day. With her well-informed perspectives and clear writing style, Dolores helps readers navigate the complex world of news and politics, providing a balanced and thoughtful view on the most important topics of the moment.