“In August 2017, we decided to quit our office work and start a new life as location independent entrepreneurs and travel bloggers. This jump out the ordinary 9-to-5 life allowed us to freely pursue our dream of traveling the world without an end date. We have visited a lot of new countries during the past three years, and Russia is one of them. Thanks to the cross-cultural project Follow Up Siberia, we were able to visit the Arctic Siberia.
When thinking about traveling in Siberia, the first and often the only thing that comes to mind is the Trans-Siberian Railway, the longest railway in the world. For us, like for many other people for sure, Siberia is huge and unknown, somehow distant and even mysterious, despite the fact that we are from the neighboring country Finland, also on the polar circle. Life in the Arctic is not for weaklings: on Taimyr, winters are harsh and last 280 days, and for 45 days of the mid winter the peninsula plunges into the polar night, with no sunlight. And when we traveled in North Siberia in early summer, it was the polar day, when the sun never sets, but there was still snow in late May. Indigenous peoples have lived in these conditions for thousands of years – and we got to spend three amazing days getting to know Norilsk, Dudinka and Taimyr, not a typical weekend really.
During our time in Siberia, we learned a lot about the local way of living, traditions, culture and history. In Norilsk we saw how the high-risers are built on top of pillars due to permafrost, and organized in a special way to protect people from wind and snowstorms. Buildings in the city were also painted in bright colors, standing our against the gray landscape (and easier to see them also during a snowstorm).
Visits to Norilsk Museum and to the first house of Norilsk were very interesting, and we learned how the geologist Nikolay Urvantsev built the house and lived there through a harsh winter back in 1921, to prove that one can survive in the area, and it’s possible to build metal industry and a town there. We also got to visit Nornickel copper plant and see the melting and casting processes from a close range, it was impressive for us as engineers.
In the local history museum in Dudinka we saw the Sopkarga mammoth. It’s spectacular how much history there is under the permafrost and glaciers, and how these freezing conditions have kept the remains of ancient animals in well-preserved state for ages. We also learned about the indigenous peoples of Taimyr, and in one of the traditional raw-hide tents we met with the locals and were generously offered herbal tundra tea and some local delicacies – smoked fish and venison. Outside the tents we admired an old, nostalgic UAZ-452 car, a Russian brand produced since 1965. It would for sure be an adventure to make a road trip through Siberia by one of those cars!
In Dudinka we also met with some students of the local curling school, where more than 100 people of different ages train. We got to watch the Arctic Curling Cup that took place at the Taimyr ice arena. The opening ceremony of the cup was impressive, with spectacular athletic performances and a wonderful pipers’ orchestra from Moscow.”
Meet other Taimyr’s friends in our Guest book section.
Text: Anne Lukkarilla, Photo: personal archive of Toni Marjanen and Anne Lukkarila