Difference between revisions of "Chelyabinsk"
Revision as of 19:02, 6 July 2014
Chelyabinsk is an industrial city, there is no getting away from this, however just because this is the case doesn't mean a visit is not worthwhile and fulfilling. Situated in the heart of the urals, It is a great gateway for the likes of Tanganay National Park and Lake Turgoyak. The city does have a strong soviet feel, and true Russian hospitality is ever present; it's a great place to get a feel of Ural Life in Russia.
The fortress of Chelyaba, from which the city takes its name, was founded in the place of a Bashkir village of Chelyaby by colonel Alexey (Kutlu-Muhammed) Tevkelev to protect the surrounding trade routes from possible attacks by Bashkir outlaws. Until the late 19th century, Chelyabinsk was a small provincial town. In 1892, the Samara-Zlatoust Railway that connected it with Moscow and the rest of European Russia was completed.
During the first Five-Year Plans of the 1930s, Chelyabinsk experienced rapid industrial growth. Several establishments, including the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant and the Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant, were built at this time. During World War II, Joseph Stalin decided to move a large part of Soviet factory production to places out of the way of the advancing German armies in late 1941. This brought new industries and thousands of workers to Chelyabinsk—still essentially a small town.
People in Chelyabinsk are mostly Russians, Tatars and Bashkirs, other nations are present as well. People of Chelyabinsk are very different. The level of education can vary as well as social background and wealth. The society is extremely polar from incredibly rich to extremely poor. In the city there are a lot of factory workers and in general people of labor, especially far from the downtown.
The number of English-speakers is very low. Those who seem to speak it mostly know only a couple of phrases from their school study which is quite poor considering languages. More probable that you meet an English-speaking person among young people than among old ones. It is adviceable to get aquaintances in the city in advance. For that you can use local English-speaking on the VK  social network or local CouchSurfing  community.
Russian people on the streets and in local transport seem to be a bit rude and not smiley which gives you a bad first impression. They are mostly poor and closed inside their numerous problems and apart it is not in Russian culture to show false emotions. You smile only when you feel really happy or something funny happened, otherwise Russians keep straight face, it is normal. In reality people are really helpful, hospitable and frank, it is only hidden by their everyday masks of unhappiness.
Tempreatures can be humid and sunny in summer, and polar opposite in winter, cold and snowy. Early spring is the thaw season. July-August is the most desirable time to visit.
Chelyabinsk is served by its own airport. As it has a limited number of international flights it might be convenient to get in from the nearest big international airport of Yekaterinburg Koltsovo.
Chelyabinsk airport  (IATA: CEK, until 2008 the airport name was Balandino) is the most convenient way to get to the city from Moscow and several other Russian cities. It has a few international flights but they are a little overpriced in comparison with the flights served by the airport of Yekaterinburg. Chelyabinsk airport serves regular flights to Düsseldorf, Dushanbe, Yerevan, Khujand, Vienna, Harbin, Dubai and charter flights to Antalya, Rimini, Bangkok. To get to the city from the airport:
Koltsovo airport (IATA: SVX) is the airport of Yekaterinburg, the center of Ural Federal District.
Wikitravel has a guide to Trans-Siberian Railway.
Two daily trains to Moscow. Train 13/14 is quicker (34 hours), but the ticket price is comparable to that of the plane ticket. Train 391/392 is cheaper, at around 1300 RUB, but is less safe and slower (41 hours).
Trains to all other parts of Russia are available as well, including the Kyiv-Vladivostok train that travels about 10,000 km. International trains run to Asian ex-USSR countries, such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and even to Beijing (twice a month).
Yekaterinburg-Chelyabinsk route is very popular, with buses running every 20-30 minutes at around 300 RUB and 3-4 hours travel time. The main bus station in Chelyabinsk is Northern Bus Terminal (Avtovokzal Severny) which is located in the center of the city, near the Yunost sporting complex. Free bus shuttles circulate between the bus terminal and the railway station. There is another bus station Southern Bus Terminal (Avtovokzal Yuzhny) with mostly buses to smaller towns of the region.
By marshrutka (small city bus with stops on demand)
Marshrutka is a very convenient means of transportation. It is a typically Russian transport. Marshrutka can be considered as a shared taxi but it follows a certain route. All marshrutkas have route numbers painted on them. They follow the route like a city bus but they stop at bus stops only on demand. If you want to take marshrutka, stay at the right place (a bus stop) and hitch by stretching your hand. If you want to exit, just say it to the driver, preferably very loudly. Keep in mind that the driver will only stop at the next official bus stop and he might not hear you. You would better ask other passengers for instructions. This sounds as an incovenience but as soon as you get accustomed to marshrutkas, you appreciate them. The transport network covers all the city and surroundings, the speed of a marshrutka is comparably high (much higher than one of buses as it doesn't stop at every bus stop) and the number of vehicle is tremendously big. The waiting period is usually about 5-10 minutes in suburbs and 1-3 minutes in the city center as there are a lot of routes. It is highly adviceable to but a map of routes and to ask locals. As well there are very good free electronic maps in Russian (2Gis). You can use online maps as well (Google, Yandex...).
The typical price is 15 rubles but there are higher prices on longer routes (it can be 20 rubles between districts and more expensive from the airport). In Chelyabinsk you should pay to the driver as soon as you get on a marshrutka (in some other cities you should pay when you get off). It is common to ask other passengers to pass money to the driver. It is quite safe as people would almost never steal your money in that situation. Passing the change back is common as well. There are marshrutkas with two types of doors. One type is automatic, so passengers should not do anything with the door. Another type is a sliding door which should be opened or closed manually. You should always close the door when get on a marshrutka or get off it last.
This place has friendly, efficent staff and, as well as the usual business facilites, bicycles for hire. Rates are fair, around $60 per night. Wifi costs R300 ($8).
Located in the centre of the city, This hotel is one the best Chelyabinsk has to offer. Prices are very reasonable and rooms are bright and moderately sized. Hotel is modern with good standard facilites. Rooms from $75 per night.
Another of the best in Chelyabinsk, this hotel has all the basic amenities for a traveller. With reasonbly sized rooms and great location, this hotel has good offers from around $70 per night.
If your on a tight budget, this choice may be better. Don't except anything except the basics, but the hotel has very good offers from $35 per night.
Chelyabinsk is a safe city and most visits are trouble free. One should take caution much like everwhere. Drug trafficking is a slight problem, but visitors are rarely caught up in this trouble. Roads can be dangerous so take care when driving or crossing the roads.
Chelyabinsk has had a reputation as the most contaminated city in the world due to it's proximity to the Mayak complex for some time. However, travellers should not find it any different to other Russian cities, air quality is reasonable and a few weeks or less here should cause no harm. If you want more detailed information about radiation effects, you should consultant a doctor for further advice. Tap water is not recommend, drink bottled water and make sure it's sealed. Don't eat berries from roadsides etc, stick to freshly baked or packaged goods.
Russia has an international phone code of +7 while the telephone area code of Chelyabinsk is 351.
They're many beautiful places in the rest of Chelyabink Oblast. It is a sparsely populated area and long distances are required to get from A to B. Public transport is often limited in rural areas.