What’s there at Norilsk, Russia

No, I did not get to go. I did not get an invitation to visit this most Northern industrial city in the world. But I saw this , by Elena Chernyshova. And now I am so moved, I’d decided I had to share this – in part due to my personal fascination for the country’s history, and also for those who would read this space for the same reasons. I work at whatever I’m at, unsure if I’ll ever get there. But honestly, I doubt I could do that, ever.

Most of us probably wouldn’t have a chance to visit, much less to make a positive impact to many of these places in the world. I am thankful the the Internet, despite having complained about our over reliance on it briefly a few posts back.

So for those of you who are interested, watch the short interview with Elena Chernyshova. And hear her out, you almost never get the daylight there. The narrow corridors between buildings – that which we would avoid usually – were the very things that kept them away from the strong winds.

It’s amazing. It’s simply too amazing for words.

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Osaka Castle

Ever wondered what might be unique of an Asian / Japanese castle? IMG_0358

This is the Osaka Castle.
It’s history is fascinating – this wasn’t the original structure built! It was once meant to be the centre of a unified Japan during Hideyoshi’s time. However, the castle was destroyed following his death, and the rebuilt version was then struck by lightning. What we see here was built in 1931 and had somehow survived the war.

I’d spent half a day around the castle grounds. The castle was a museum that detailed the history of the castle, battles, and Hideyoshi’s life. It was interesting, but I was more keen to look at the stone walls and moats surrounding the castle tower. Take a walk around the castle grounds and gardens!

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PS: If you’re planning a visit, it’s easily accessible by the JR Osakajokoen Station. Step off the train, out the station, and keep walking around what seems like an entire imperial city! It’s beautiful!

XIV: Kazan Cathedral, St Petersburg

I found an old photo in the pile of Russian trip snaps and decided to share a brief post today. This is the Kazan Cathedral of St Petersburg, which caught my eye for plain simple reason that it so closely resembles St Peter’s Basilica in Rome! Imagine what I felt when I saw a Catholic-influenced building in a country known for its Russian Orthodox Church?!

Religion and politics aside, this building is impressive to look at and was ironically used in 1932 as a pro-Marxist museum that highlights the history of atheism. It has thereafter been returned to the Orthodox Church.

Kazan Cathedral 14

XIII: Russian Cruisor Aurora

A visit to St Petersburg warrants a trip to the Russian Cruisor Aurora. It might not sound like an exciting journey, but for those interested in military history, the Aurora is a protected/preserved cruisor moored at St Petersburg, now acting as a museum ship.Cruisor Aurora 10

This ship was one of the Pallada class of cruisors to serve in the Pacific Far East; its main foray was in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and the Baltic Seas during WWI, The Aurora was used as a training ship thereafter and had even suffered damage and sunk during WWII. After extensive repairs, it was harboured at Leningrad and still is today (what we know of as St Petersburg). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Russian Cruisor Aurora is the oldest commissioned ship of the Russian Navy and is still manned by an active service crew. The little bits of history that sustains til today deserve a lot more focus and respect than we bother to give today. If you do make a trip to St Petersburg, remember to board and explore this cruisor!

Russia XII: Lenin’s Statue in St Petersburg

A recent read of Lenin, Stalin and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe (Vintage), by Robert Gellately, brought my interest back to a statue I’d once seen years back during my stay in Russia.

I took residence in The Park Inn Pulkovskaya at St Petersburg, which stood behind the great Ploshchad Pobedy (known more to the West as Victory Square). The Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad features a sleek obelisk that reaches into the sky, surrounded by a sculptural ensemble at the pedestal of the obelisk.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASculptures representing soldiers, sailors and civilians who did not surrender despite hunger, cold and constant bombardment were featured. Beneath the elaborate Soviet monumental art dedicated to WWII housed a museum which held maps of Leningrad defense plans beneath. My fascination of the details in each sculpture and wild imaginations of them springing into action, as if the past still lingered, cannot be better expressed than by the two pictures below.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What stood high above the rest was the vast statue of Lenin as he “directs” the crowds in a dominating stance. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It has been a long time since my visit to Russia; at times I wonder how much has changed in this country so rich in its history…

Point Nepean National Park

The best part of my trip was up at Portsea, Point Nepean National Park, located at the tip of the Mornington Peninsula. History junkie as I am, exploring Fort Nepean’s history was an unforgettable experience – there was so much to find out about the fort – it’s tunnels, cannons, disappearance of Prime Minister Harold Holt, and simply to take in the panoramic views of the Rip and Port Philip Bay.

I arrived at the Information Centre just in time to hop on to the bus up to Fort Nepean, where numerous fortifications dating back to 1880s stood. Once I got off the bus and up a flight of steps I some stunning sights.

A strategic location for a fort, indeed. Two Mark VII guns sat at the Parade Grounds – the only two guns that had fired shots at Port Philip’s defences. I made my way towards the ruins of the Engine Room, which held short descriptions of the history of the barracks, embankments and some posters about unique characters that once served at the Fort.

Despite a sudden downpour that made the trip up the slippery steps a little tougher than usual, I found my way to the Battery Observation Post, which held the Depression Range Finder (equipment used to find the range and bearing of enemy ships). Fully absorbed in the little write-ups, the rain soon stopped.

I made my way back towards the underground tunnels and was halted in my tracks when I heard a strange eerie whistling. I didn’t quite dare to enter the dark narrow walkways until I realised that the whistling was none other than a sound recording that tells a tale! Oh my!

There’s so much more to see at the Fort I couldn’t cover all of it here. For the history or the scenic views, I’ll recommend a personal visit when you next go to Melbourne!