THE TYUMEN REGION, LOCATED WITHIN A TWO-AND-A-HALF-HOUR FLIGHT FROM MOSCOW, MAY WELL BE ONE OF THE MOST UNUSUAL DESTINATIONS FOR A LONG WEEKEND. READ ON ABOUT WHAT TO EXPECT, AND WHY A TRIP HERE IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST. REVIEW BY IVAN NIKOLAEV.
Your amazing journey in West Siberia will start with your arrival at its regional centre, the city of Tyumen. The first city to be built in Siberia, Russia’s oil and gas capital holds vast promise in its development.
A City of Happy People
Its residents have dubbed it “the best city on Earth”. Studies and surveys held over recent years have shown Tyumen as ranking the highest in terms of standard of living and “happiness index” in all of Russia. To begin to understand why Tyumen’s people are so in love with their city, a visitor needs to simply take a tour of its most popular sites and attractions, like the four-level embankment of the Tura River, the merchant-quarter full of beautiful mansions adorned with hallmark Siberian carvings, its theatres, museums and, of course, atmospheric cafés. Stroll around the inviting Gilevskaya grove, Zatyumensky Ecopark or some of the city’s other green nooks — and find your own happiness index escalating, too.
Many of the city’s restaurants and cafés offer traditional Siberian menus. The locals are unanimous in mentioning the restaurant Chum (a chum is a traditional Siberian tent) among the city’s most interesting gourmet spots. It offers both a tasty meal along with authentic impressions of the region’s history. You will be surprised to find its waiters to be knowledgeable tour guides as they tell you fascinating stories about the geologists who came to conquer the taiga near Tyumen in the 1960s. The most popular dishes offered in Chum are muksun stroganina (a delicacy made of thinly sliced frozen fish) and venison salad. By the way, this restaurant-museum was consecrated by a real Siberian shaman, and it is believed that if you make a wish while there, it will definitely come true.
Some of Tyumen’s restaurants cook using recipes dating back to the 1700s, like vinaigrette with milk mushrooms or the ‘Olivier’ salad with crayfish tails. Visitors fond of experimental cuisine are in for exclusive treats — fusion dishes based on high merchant style cookery and culinary hits of the USSR, to name but a few.
A visitor simply needs to take a tour of Tumen’s
most popular sites, like the embankment of the
Tura River, the merchant-quarter, its theatres,
museums and, of course, atmospheric cafés.
Tyumen’s calling card is its natural hot springs — the area around the region’s capital boasts over twenty of them. The temperature of the mineral water gushing from the bowels of the Earth ranges from +36 to + 45⁰С. Bathing in these springs is not merely pleasant and relaxing — the procedure triggers healing processes in the body and tones the skin.
Joining the Gas and Oil Community
In the early days of oil and gas development in Western Siberia, enthusiasts and romantics from all over the USSR gathered here. Presently, 60% of Russia’s national raw material resources are concentrated in the Tyumen region. In the course of the captivating
“Siberia’s Black Gold” tour you’ll learn about the history of Siberia’s development, witness the oil-extracting process, eat black fish ukha (fish soup) and even go through the oilmen initiation rite.
On the way from Tyumen to Tobolsk be sure to stop at the village of Pokrovskoe. It’s home to Siberia’s first privately owned museum, the house of Grigory Rasputin, one of the most controversial and debated figures in Russian history. The exhibition is based on items owned by the Rasputin family, including original photographs of himself and his relations with personal signatures and notes. Make sure you take a moment to sit on Rasputin’s famous Viennese chair: it brings good luck and professional success. TLR