Difference between revisions of "Novosibirsk"
Revision as of 23:19, 5 August 2014
It depends on whom you run into, but most people in the streets probably won't speak English with you if you need help. Don't think of them as being rude or unfriendly. Many young people can speak English but are afraid of talking to foreigners, and older people tend not to speak foreign languages at all. Hence, it is recommended to go to Novosibirsk with someone who understands Russian or to learn some Russian before you go.
Summers in Novosibirsk are typically warm, but sometimes cold and rainy. Winters can be really cold with temperatures as low as -40° Celsius.
Flights are handled by the Tolmachevo Airport , 16km away from city center. S7 Airlines is the major airline here and have domestic flights to most cities in Russia. Aeroflot also have direct flights from Moscow. Bus #111 connects the airport with the major train station "Novosibirsk-Glavny" (Новосибирск-Главный) and Avtovokzal (Автовокзал), the bus terminal (each 30 min). Bus #112 since 06.2011 connects the airport with shopping mall "Mega" (IKEA). Also minibus #1122 shuttles between the airport and main train station.
A taxi between the airport and downtown (around Lenin Square) takes about 30 minutes with no traffic and is 400 - 500 rubles as at Feb 2013.
Novosibirsk is a major station on the Trans-Siberian Railway, in fact the Vokzal-Glavny (Вокзал-Главный) station is the largest station along the route. This means that there are daily trains avalible from Moscow and Saint-Petersburg with a journey time of 2-3 days. Coming from the other direction, there are direct trains from Beijing, Ulaan Baator and Vladivostok amongst others. Also, Novosibirsk is also the final destination of the Sibirjak express train, the longest train journey originating in the European Union. This weekly train leaves Berlin each Saturday afternoon and arrives Wednesday at lunch time. Apart from the long-distance trains there are plenty of local and regional trains connecting with most nearby cities. Vokzal-Glavny station is very close to the Garina Mikhailovskogo (Гарина Михайловского) Metro stop.
There is a lot of public transport in this city. Everywhere you will pay from 13 to 30 rubles (it depends from your change of transport). Taxis, metro, buses, street railways or trams and so on. Most citizens can't speak even basic English (although almost all of them were taught English in schools). Very often this also depends on the English accents of tourists.
The Metro  is cheap but only runs through the city center and just past the Ob River. Still, for the visitor, you can get to many major destinations from its six major stops, including the main square, Lenin Square, on Krasny Prospekt (Red Avenue).
The city center is fairly compact and a walk from the railway station to Lenin's square takes cca 20 minutes.
Lenin Square (city center)
See the Lenin's square with a grey-color monument of Lenin left from Soviet era standing right in front of the Opera and Ballet House which, by the way, is beautiful at night. It is also the largest opera house in Russia. There's also the exact geographical center of former Soviet Union just south of Lenin Square, marked by the Chapel of St. Nicholas, originally built in 1915 to commemorate 300 years of Romanov rule, destroyed in 1930 and rebuilt in 1993. In winter residents build an ice town on the Ob River, and in summer you can go to the beach. Near the city center on Krasny Prospekt,you can also see some excellent works in the Novosibirsk Art Museum and Local Studies Museum. You could also consider the Novosibirsk Regional Puppet Theater (over 70 years old in an interesting historic building), Novosibirsk Circus, and several other theaters. As in every Russian city, there are multiple monuments to heroes of the Great Patriotic War (WWII), including an eternal flame guarded at special ceremonies by youths with replica Kalashnikovs. Those are standard touristic places, but you should definitely make friends with locals to see the "best" parts of the city.
The zoo is one of the largest in Russia (after Novosibirsk had a really tiny one for decades until 90-s). Much money have been invested in the zoo during "prosperous 00-s", thanks to the zoo's devoted director Shilo, a member of the bureaaucrat United Russia party. The zoo is very well-attended and one of the best places to visit that Novosibisk can offer.
A visit to Akademgorodok, built in the 1950s as a mecca for academics but suffering from neglect in the post-Soviet years, is still pleasant as a day trip. This formerly elite institution is located about 30 KM south of the city and features several museums and nice, tree-lined streets.
While you're in the area, you might also visit one of several nice beaches on the Ob Sea, the large body of water created by a dam on the Ob River.
Also south of the city, about 2 km north of Akademgorodok, is the open-air West Siberian Rail Museum. There are about 90 historical trains and rail cars there.
Many foreigners may find Novosibirsk gray and boring and not attractive at all, as tourism system isn't really implemented in the city. You'll never see any buses with tourists visiting the city. Although Novosibirsk is the third biggest city in Russia, it's probably not one of the most tourist-friendly destinations in the country. You won't find a lot of touristic guides and prospects about the city. However, if you are interested in exploring real Russia and Siberia and understanding Russian culture, seeing what life in Russia is like and getting in touch with Russia and Russian household, it's a must visit place. Here are a couple of things you might do while staying there:
1. One of the things you should do is visiting Opera House (Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater). Here is the link to their web-page http://www.opera-novosibirsk.ru/index.php?locale=en_us. But it's recommended to book tickets in advance. They have very nice operas and ballets and they usually play classic things. Many of the plays are known around the world and it'd be very interesting to see a sort of Siberian interpretation. The Opera House is situated on Lenin Square and you can get there by catching a subway train. There are also a lot of buses and troleybuses running to OperaHouse. The location is very central and you'll easily find it.
2. As there's a lot of snow in Siberia in winter, going skiing or ice skating could be a lot of fun in Novosibirsk. There are a lot of ice arenas in the city. Some of them are free of charge, but those don't usually rent skates. The ones that rent skates may be not free of charge. One of the central stadiums is "Spartak", it's quite central.
3. Try some Russian specialties, such as pancakes ("Blini") and "pelmeni"). You can either go cafes or this stuff may be found in many cafes in malls.
There are a lot of malls, shops, boutiques and stores in Novosibirsk. They offer a lot of goods from all round the world and you can have a great time while shopping. However, be careful when buying anything there - always check what you buy, before you pay. Sometimes the goods you buy may be produced not by a brand company but by a company in an Asian country that has a license for producing products under this brand name. Sometimes the quality of these goods doesn't correspond to the quality of the original brand. This may be especially applied to the European brands. For example, the same scents may have a different aroma in Novosibirsk and somewhere in Europe. It doesn't mean that the goods have bad quality and you shouldn't shop. But be careful if you want to purchase anything. You could have a lot of fun if you go to markets like Central Market ("Центральный рынок") or "Baraholka". There you'll see people from around the world selling stuff that is not brand but it may have a good quality. Be careful there as well, as you may run into pocket pickers. You may even find some local food there and try some specials. There are a lot of different markets in the city but the most famous are Central Market and Baroholka. You may buy nothing there but what you see, you'll see nowhere in the world. It literally looks like an Asian market with only difference it's in the Russian way.
There are plenty of good cafes and restaurants around the city, where you can get quality, non expensive food and drink. Most of the best cafes in the city are chains, and you will find five or six other branches around. Most are located around Lenin Square, and will be in the big shopping centres. The most popular choice of food in Novosibirsk is Italian or Sushi, however you can find places with Russian food, and there are also a few well known fast food chains. You can generally get a good meal with wine for under 500 rubles, but look out for the Business Lunch menu, found in all cafes from 12pm -4pm. Portion sizes the same, but prices are very low. Starter, main and wine can be bought for 200-250 rubles.
Perchini (Перчини) Over looking Lenin Square. Free WiFi. During summer there is also a rooftop bar which is open from 9th May. They don't speak much English, but the menu is in Russian and English and has pictures. They serve good pizza, pasta ranging from 200-400 rubles. Business Lunch 10am-4pm - small pizza or normal sized pasta for 115 rubles.
Il Patio (IL Патио) Next to Lenin Square. Smoking upstairs, downstairs non smoking. Free WiFi. Service in this branch is excellent, and there are some waitresses with really good English. The menu is all in Russian but you will find the usual classic dishes. Recommended is the lasagne, and the pizza is really good quality. Business Lunch 12pm -4pm - full sized pizza or pasta for 150 rubles or a combination menu.
Riba Ris (Риба Рис) Lenina Street next to Lenin Square. Large menu, all tables are booths - remember to push the button for service! And the waiting staff wear red beanie hats with big eyes on top. Menu is in Russian but lots of pictures. 8 pieces of sushi cost between 120-300 rubles.
Shashlikof (ШашлыкоFF) Found all over the city - Lenina Street, Krasnyy Prospekt etc. Fun cafe, music, cheap prices, always busy, so for a Friday/Saturday night always book a table. Speciality is Shashlik - barbecued meat on a stick, which you can have with a choice of potato or salad.
Buffet No 1 Lenina Street. USSR recreation cafe serving traditional food from that time. No table service, but very cute, retro style. And prices are very cheap. Breakfast costs no more than 100 rubles.
People's Bar and Grill Very popular on Friday and Saturday evenings, so book tables if you plan to visit. A very general menu, burgers, wraps, pasta, pizza, sushi, fajitas and cocktails. Recommended is the chocolate fondant for dessert. Lively atmosphere, loud music, great service, and a good place to come for an evening.
KFC All of your fried chicken favourites!
Carls Junior The closest equivalent you will get to McDonalds. Found on Lenina Street, Aura or Sibirian Mall with a large choice of burgers. Classic Kombo meal starts at 150 rubles.
New York Pizza
Travelers Coffee Good selection of tea and coffee. They have an English menu if you ask. Some light snacks - sandwiches, wraps, and cheesecakes, muffins and cookies. Free WiFi and plug sockets for your laptop. Very good service.
Coffee House Good coffee and tea. Cakes are nice. Food reasonable.
Kardamon Chaplygina (Чаплыгина) str. 39. An alternative tea room, tea for 100 RUB, light meals for 100-150 RUB.
Many cafés and restaurants offer paid (and free) Wi-Fi all over the city.
While it's better to stay away from some run-down areas the overall situation is not bad. Pervomayskiy rayon and far-off neighborhoods of Leninskiy and Kirovskiy rayons should be avoided at any time.
The safest place is the center (nearby Lenin Square), stay there and you will be all right.