Doing the Tourist Thing

Posted: September 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

Song of the day to accompany this post: Fast Cars by the Buzzcocks. Who doesn’t love some great British punk rock? It’s okay that the Buzzcocks hate fast cars, none of the UAZ vehicles have very high top speeds. Also, I’ve been watching a lot of “Never Mind the Buzzcocks” on Youtube. Finally, the bass solo towards the beginning of the song reminds me of the Mute City level of F-Zero for the SNES. Video game withdrawal is worse than I thought it would be. Don’t even get me started on withdrawal from driving.

On Saturday, I did the tourist thing around the city. I met up with one of the teachers from my department and she showed me around the sights of the center of the city. We met up to go to the 70th anniversary celebration for UAZ. I got to sit in one of the WWII era trucks (a ZIS-5, read the post below for more details about the truck), which was amazing.

Not quite a tank, but still an important vehicle for the war effort.

I was content just to look at it, but the day got better because I actually got to touch it. The truck is towards the top of the list of vehicles that I’ve been allowed to sit in and touch, probably number three after Professor Bauer’s 1948 MG TC and Mr. Tatu’s Ural motorcycle. The Ural was made in Russia in the late 1990s and was originally a Soviet motorcycle that was basically a reverse-engineered BMW from the 1930s.

When being a REES major pays off (as well as knowing the coolest professors).

So I like showing off my adventures just a little. Double bonus: the faithful old Mercedes is in the background.

In addition to the car display, there were a few things set up for people to entertain themselves. There were bouncy castles and other toys for children to play with or on. For the adults, there was a shooting gallery. Shooting galleries like these must be pretty popular, because I saw another three or four in the greater area of Lenin’s Square.

How long did you think it would take me to find weapons in Russia?

From Lenin’s Square, we headed off to some of the sights that I had seen a few days before with the girls from the 4th year. The teacher, however, was more knowledgeable about some of the landmarks. For instance, until recently, taking photos of the old bridge across the Volga was forbidden due to strategic reasons. Until the second bridge opened a few years ago, the bridge in Ulyanovsk was the only crossing of the Volga between Kazan and Samara. Another fun thing that I didn’t notice a few days before was the plants on the side of the hill. It’s hard to see in the photo, but they spell out “Lenin” in Russian.

I want plants that spell out stuff.


We ventured to the Hotel Venets, Ulyanovsk’s skyscraper. The hotel is about 24 or 25 stories tall and there is a bar and restaurant on the top floor. There is also a balcony, from which one can see all of Ulyanovsk.

Good thing I got over my fear of heights in Germany and Austria last summer. "Hey kids, today's activity - climb another tall building!"

The last place we visited was the monument to the Great Patriotic War. In addition to a towering star, there is an eternal flame.

The same complex also contains a memorial for Russians lost in Afghanistan as well as other more recent conflicts such as Chechnya and Nargorno-Karabakh (what happens in Gov225 stays in your life forever, right Lauren?).

We also ran into an interesting a jolly fellow at the war memorial. He was dressed as an officer of the White Army from 1918. He spoke a little bit of English and wanted to know if the pictures of us would make it to America. Clearly interested in history, he shared with me some information on how to find out more about my great-grandfather’s time in the White Army on the internet. If bored one weekend, I may try to find him again and ask him more about Russian history.

Лучше смерть, чем потеря Родины - Better death than the loss of the homeland.

  1. lfly328 says:

    Looks like you are seeing a ton of stuff! I’m catching up on all your posts. And, seriously, the material learned in Gov 225 will haunt us forever….

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