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View Poll Results: Which city(s) do you prefer?
Ekaterinburg 1 9.09%
Kaliningrad 1 9.09%
Kazan 4 36.36%
Nizhny Novgorod 3 27.27%
Rostov-on-Don 2 18.18%
Samara 1 9.09%
Saransk 2 18.18%
Sochi 6 54.55%
Volgograd 2 18.18%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 11. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-21-2018, 07:52 AM
 
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(Pick 2!)

So, it's World Cup time! And I think it's always interesting during times like this, Olympics or World Cup, to do a little more research into the places it's being hosted, it almost makes you feel a bit like you're going there, if that makes any sense, which is fun for a travel lover like me!

However, probably also if you're like most people, you don't know too much about the host cities, or Russian cities in general, outside of Saint Petersburg and Moscow, if you don't personally live in/have direct connection to/have traveled extensively in Russia. So, in a way, it's kind of fun, almost like uncharted waters, to do a bit of research into these cities. They are:

-Sochi
-Ekaterinburg
-Saransk
-Rostov-on-Don
-Kazan
-Kaliningrad
-Samara
-Volgograd
-Nizhny Novgorod

Personally, the only one I really had some concept of before looking was Sochi, due to the fact it hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, where I learned that, in Russian terms, "If I could read the cards, I would live in Sochi." It is on the Black Sea and functions as both a mountain/ski destination but also a summer beach resort destination for influential Russians. It has a climate I would describe as pretty ideal, with average highs even in winter of around 10/50*, and a decent number of months with temperatures in the upper 60s, 70s and low 80s (20-27* range), almost like a slightly cooler climate version, but very similar, to many desirable Mediterranean city climates.

It is worth noting that:
-Each of these cities are significantly smaller than the Big 2. Yekaterinburg, the largest city to host besides those two, at number 4, has a population of only 1.35 Million compared to the 5 Million in Saint Petersburg city limits alone. That said, I think Samara is maybe the 3rd largest metro in Russia, roughly 3 Million? FWIW, 7 of Russia's Top 10 in Population are also host cities. There are a number of cities in this group with population smaller than 500K, including Saransk (smallest at 298K), Sochi, and Volgograd.
-Moscow is a magnet point of sorts, with 6 of the venues within 500 miles of there. With that said, I believe only Saint Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod are close enough to where travel by rail on a day trip is a reasonable and available option, though the others I'm sure are within a 90 minute or so flight.
-With that said, it's also interesting, even though we do know this, how vast a swath of Russia will not be seeing any world cup action. This is practical, but still worth noting. All venues are from Ekaterinburg west, and Saint Petersburg north. Meaning about 1200 miles north (about half of the width of Russia, roughly), and roughly 3/4 of Russia's length won't feel any presence of the World Cup. Of course however, it is perhaps more important to look at population layout of Russia over the course of the country. The estimate I found mentioned that 77% of Russia's population lived in the European section, west of the Ural Mountains and Ekaterinburg, a dividing city of sorts.
-The Volga River really does play a significant role in Russia's history and I can see why it is called their national river. Volgograd, Niznhy Novgorod, Samara and Kazan, are all along it's banks, and also among it's more picturesque cities.

With that said, who to pick? Keep it respectful and intelligent please. Compare on:
-Location
-Entertainment
-Cultural Venues
-Safety
-Economic Opportunity
-Roads and Transit
-Historical Sites/Aesthetic
-Parks and Scenery
-Food and Nightlife
-Future Outlook
-Anything Else You Consider Important

Understand that these aren't going to be ranked up there with any of the world's great cities, and that's okay. Were not comparing them on that. And Russia DOES have two of the world's more underrated and impressive cities, however, in St Pete and Moscow.

I made it a pick 2, and the 2 I chose were Nizhny Novgorod (for living), and Sochi (for touristic purposes).
Nizhny Novgorod I see as perhaps the "Pearl of the Volga". I put for living, because from there on rail access, you can get to Moscow in under 4 hours, has a pretty setting and historical town vibe, but yet is large enough for daily conveniences. In the future if Hyperloop technology improves, I could almost daily commute to Moscow from there, were I living in Russia. It's actually a place, based on my reading, I would recommend among other underrated, budget destination Eastern European cities for those looking for something off the touristic track, perhaps in the same vein as a Krakow or a Bucharest, but even less developed yet, than that. Look for pictures of the Nizhny Kremlin... It's a stunner. My pick for visiting overall (too small and probably too limited opportunity there for now, though that could change), was Sochi. I think it's certainly Russia's most marketable city after Saint Petersburg and Moscow, and I do think vacationers, especially during the summer (or winter) could have a great and unique time there, and they have a decent amount of history present too including ruins dating from the 5th century. Perhaps the highest part of the reason it's on my list though is the proximity to the Caucasus Mountain range. I am an avid hiker, and one of the things that is basically now on top of my bucket list is doing at least one of the "Seven Summits". I could totally be down to move there for a few months, gradually training and ascending smaller peaks in the area then chilling back in the city/coast by night, before finally ascending Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in all of Europe, which I hear is a highly unique cultural experience also.

Runners up? For living, probably Kaliningrad thanks to a coastal setting and proximity to several other European countries, including being only around a 4 hour trip for arguably the hub city of Eastern Europe, Warsaw. For visiting, probably Volgograd, since I did not realize, but that is actually Stalingrad, site of one of the most infamous battles of all time. I hear there are a lot of historical relics present and even some buildings left in condition, a bit like Pripyat with the eerie feel, but as a historian, there would be a lot there for me to look at, because, I believe it is also a resting place for one of the 7 or 8 Tatar Khan's, who along with the Great Khan, Kublai, conquered the known world.

I think the bottom two on my list would be Saransk (too small, landlocked, removed from urban centers), and Ekaterinburg (second lowest, maybe more offerings than Saransk, but more isolated than any of the other cities, in fact I think it is closer to Astana, Kazakhstan, than it is to Moscow). That is just a long, wide swath of land to cover to get ANYWHERE.

Curious to hear your thoughts as well!
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Old 06-21-2018, 08:39 AM
 
Location: Kharkiv, Ukraine
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"Forward, russia"
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Old 06-21-2018, 02:07 PM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavsfan137 View Post
(Pick 2!)

I think the bottom two on my list would be Saransk (too small, landlocked, removed from urban centers), and Ekaterinburg (second lowest, maybe more offerings than Saransk, but more isolated than any of the other cities, in fact I think it is closer to Astana, Kazakhstan, than it is to Moscow). That is just a long, wide swath of land to cover to get ANYWHERE.

Curious to hear your thoughts as well!
Yes Ekaterinburg is isolated from Moscow and St. Petersburg, but there are other medium sized cities nearby.

0 hr drive | Yekaterinburg: 1,455,904
2 hr drive | Nizhny Tagil: 355,693
3 hr drive | Chelyabinsk: 1,198,858
4.5 hr drive | Tyumen: 744,554
5 hr drive | Perm: 1,048,005
5 hr drive | Kurgan: 322,042
7 hr drive | Magnitogorsk: 418,241
8 hr drive | Ufa: 1,115,560

So Yekaterinburg is not supper isolated, there are other cities that you could easily drive to in a day. It's also one of the most developed cities outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg with one of the strongest economies in Russia.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIdsOxNkR3I&t=62s
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Old 06-22-2018, 02:30 AM
 
Location: Great Britain
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It's certainly not Volgograd and it's swarms of midges, partly due to a reservior nearby.
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Old 06-22-2018, 05:36 AM
 
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I'll avoid there for long term living purposes then ^ : )

That said, the fact that it is the site of the Battle of Stalingrad, along with a Tatar Khan capital, I would probably consider a couple days of sightseeing there, were I ever to plan a cross country sightseeing trip of Russia.

Thanks for your information regarding Yekaterinburg, I wasn't too aware of it, or the cities surrounding it but it does look pretty nice, and I suppose another benefit is that one could take weekend trips from there to the very scenic and remote Ural Mountains. That pushes Ekaterinburg out of the bottom tier certainly for me, however, I think I might still go with Nizhny Novgorod overall, though I'm not sure how their economies compare directly (that might flip me, if Ekaterinburg was moving towards or was already the solid #3). That just looks like a super pretty, character filled city, and though Ekaterinburg is not as isolated as I thought it was, I still do think there's something added in terms of amenities and opportunities that you get from being near to such a important global financial and cultural hub like Moscow... Of course I'm seeing this from my lens but I feel like this is more important for a potential American tourist or expat vs. someone that lives in Russia itself, even for visa type stuff, language gap, etc.

I have to say, Kazan looks like a pretty, interesting and diverse city too.
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Old 06-22-2018, 10:44 AM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavsfan137 View Post
I'll avoid there for long term living purposes then ^ : )

That said, the fact that it is the site of the Battle of Stalingrad, along with a Tatar Khan capital, I would probably consider a couple days of sightseeing there, were I ever to plan a cross country sightseeing trip of Russia.

Thanks for your information regarding Yekaterinburg, I wasn't too aware of it, or the cities surrounding it but it does look pretty nice, and I suppose another benefit is that one could take weekend trips from there to the very scenic and remote Ural Mountains. That pushes Ekaterinburg out of the bottom tier certainly for me, however, I think I might still go with Nizhny Novgorod overall, though I'm not sure how their economies compare directly (that might flip me, if Ekaterinburg was moving towards or was already the solid #3). That just looks like a super pretty, character filled city, and though Ekaterinburg is not as isolated as I thought it was, I still do think there's something added in terms of amenities and opportunities that you get from being near to such a important global financial and cultural hub like Moscow... Of course I'm seeing this from my lens but I feel like this is more important for a potential American tourist or expat vs. someone that lives in Russia itself, even for visa type stuff, language gap, etc.

I have to say, Kazan looks like a pretty, interesting and diverse city too.
Nizhny Novgorod is sometimes called the Russian Detroit (or perhaps Philadelphia, as I think Volgograd is more like Detroit?), it’s an industrial city that has passed it’s glory days and people are moving out, Yekaterinburg on the other hand I would call the Russian Dallas as it is one of the fastest growing cities in Russia thanks to oil/gas fields and other natural resources nearby (it’s also not particularly historic only becoming a major city during soviet times), Tyumen the 700k city nearby that I mentioned earlier I would call the Russian Austin as it is Russia’s fastest growing primary city (not a suburb or some isolated town)

Last edited by grega94; 06-22-2018 at 11:01 AM..
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Old 06-23-2018, 05:56 AM
 
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That's what I noticed about Yekaterinburg (it looked much more highrisey), and even though there populations are at similar levels, it sorta looks like Yekaterinburg is a bigger city already. That said, given a preference between Philadelphia (even Detroit) or Dallas, I still might take the former, no disrespect to the latter, but I just think there's something special about living in a place that has bones to it, as long as it isn't truly miserable there.

Is it also true that Nizhny might have more of a European parklike/narrow street type feel, where Yekaterinburg might feel more strictly Russian modern/industrial (or almost more like an American sun belt city, as you mention)? I found a picture on the first page of Google search for that showed a bustling street scene (perhaps Nizhny's Arbat, about a half mile or so in length even) being looked down on from perhaps the hill of the Nizhny Kremlin, with the river and rolling hills and modern highrises in the background, and I was just like "Woah, how have I never heard of this place?" Regardless of knowing further details about economic prospects, lifestyle, etc.

FWIW, let me know if I'm saying anything about any of these that is offensive or inaccurate because it seems you have more of a direct Russian connection, but I'm REALLY enjoying this thread so far and hoping more join in, this is a cool change of pace from many other threads on here.

People unfairly in the US media dogged Russia, like "who wants to go there anyways", when the reality is it's an interesting country with plenty to offer. My wife and I are teachers, and once (hopefully twice : )) a year we have taken trips around to various corners of the world over the last 3-4 years. A Central European one is still certainly a must at some point, but I'm considering forgoing that to at some point make a 2-3 week venture involving several of these (we LOVED Saint Petersburg but were only there for 2 days, so maybe back there some, Moscow, Sochi, perhaps some others?). I want to do a 7 Summit also, and had generally been leaning towards Kili as the one to do, but I think perhaps Elbrus might be a better experience (and cheaper) even, as an urbanist also, the idea of combining that with some time in Moscow and some other underrated cities in the area, has trip of a lifetime potential on it : )

What would you say are the most interesting things to do for someone visiting Yekaterinburg, or the cities within it's region? As a geography enthusiast, the Ural Mountains come to mind, because they are a major landmark at that point separating Europe and Asia, but somehow I doubt there's like a single mountain or fissure where it's like, "This. This is where the world is splitting in half." I don't know that though. I see Boris Yeltsin sight is there, so that may be of interest, but what else?
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Old 06-23-2018, 03:07 PM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
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Just so you know I have never been to Russia so don't take my words too seriously, I just have Russian parents so I'm very interested in Russia and have looked into these cities and have done my own research, but other than that I can't say too much. As far as city layout, yes Nizhny Novgorod has narrower streets, at least in the historic center, outside of that it looks very soviet, just like American cities look very suburban outside of the downtown area.

I will show you some google street view pics of these host city's city centers.

Nizhny Novgorod
https://www.google.com/maps/@56.3242...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@56.3202...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@56.3294...7i13312!8i6656

Yekaterinburg
https://www.google.com/maps/@56.8386...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@56.8372...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@56.8326...7i13312!8i6656

Kazan
https://www.google.com/maps/@55.7888...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@55.7918...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@55.7939...7i13312!8i6656

Samara
https://www.google.com/maps/@53.1874...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@53.1997...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@53.1965...7i13312!8i6656

Rostov-on-Don
https://www.google.com/maps/@47.2193...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@47.2187...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@47.2210...7i13312!8i6656

Volgograd
https://www.google.com/maps/@48.7108...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@48.7083...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@48.7128...7i13312!8i6656

Sochi
https://www.google.com/maps/@43.5760...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@43.5786...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@43.5893...7i13312!8i6656

Kaliningrad
https://www.google.com/maps/@54.7024...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@54.7213...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@54.7236...7i13312!8i6656

Saransk
https://www.google.com/maps/@54.1864...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@54.1807...7i13312!8i6656
https://www.google.com/maps/@54.1866...7i13312!8i6656
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Old 06-23-2018, 03:35 PM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
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Also here are the population growth rates of the world cup cities since 2010

City Name: 2017 population | 2010 population | Change
Sochi: 411,524 | 343,334 | +19.86%
St. Petersburg: 5,281,579 | 4,879,566 | +8.24%
Kaliningrad: 467,289 | 431,902 | +8.19%
Yekaterinburg: 1,455,514 | 1,349,772 | +7.83%
Kazan: 1,231,878 | 1,143,535 | +7.73%
Moscow: 12,380,664 | 11,503,501 | +7.63%
Saransk: 314,789 | 297,415 | +5.84%
Rostov-on-Don: 1,125,299 | 1,089,261 | +3.31%
Nizhny Novgorod: 1,261,666 | 1,250,619 | +0.88%
Samra: 1,169,719 | 1,164,685 | +0.43%
Volgograd: 1,015,586 | 1,021,215 | −0.55%
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._by_population

These were the largest cities in Russia in 1897
St. Petersburg: 1,267,023
Moscow: 988,610
*Konigsberg (Kaliningrad): 189,483
Saratov: 133,116
Kazan: 131,508
Rostov-on-Don: 119,889
Astrakhan: 113,075
Tula: 111,048
Nizhny-Novgorod: 98,503
Samara: 91,659
………………………………………
Tsaritsyn (Volgograd): 55,914
Yekaterinburg: 43,052
Sochi: 1,000

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...Empire_in_1897
*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Königsberg#Demographics

Last edited by grega94; 06-23-2018 at 04:04 PM..
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Old 06-23-2018, 03:58 PM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavsfan137 View Post
I'll avoid there for long term living purposes then ^ : )

That said, the fact that it is the site of the Battle of Stalingrad, along with a Tatar Khan capital, I would probably consider a couple days of sightseeing there, were I ever to plan a cross country sightseeing trip of Russia.
Not exactly, First off the original capital of the Golden Horde was Old Sarai and was located near Astrakhan just north of the Volga River Delta, then in the 1300s the capital was moved to New Sarai which was near Volgograd, but not the same exact site, Not sure if it was the new one or old one, but Sarai was one of the largest cities in the medieval world with about 600,000 people.

"Both cities were sacked several times. Timur sacked New Sarai around 1395, and Meńli I Giray of the Crimean Khanate sacked New Sarai around 1502. The forces of Ivan IV of Russia finally destroyed Sarai after conquering the Astrakhan Khanate in 1556.
In 1623-1624, a Russian merchant, Fedot Kotov, travelled to Persia via the lower Volga. He described the site of Sarai:
Here by the river Akhtuba stands the Golden Horde. The khan's court, palaces, and courts, and mosques are all made of stone. But now all these buildings are being dismantled and the stone is being taken to Astrakhan.[9]
Since Old Sarai lies at 120 km from Astrakhan and New Sarai at 300 km, it is difficult to decide to which of these two cities this description applies.
After the destruction of New Sarai, Russia established the fortress city of Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad, now Volgograd) to control the area."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarai_(city)
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