Flight: Komiaviatrans ИГ48 (sold as Комиавиатранс ИГ48)
Route: Arkhangelsk "Talagi" to Kotlas (ARH-KSZ) - Both in the Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russian Federation
Scheduled time: 11:45-13:30. Scheduled duration: 1h45m
Real departure Time: 11:44 (take off ULAA RWY 08).
Real arrival time: 13:26 (landing ULKK RWY 13). Real duration: 1h42m
Aircraft: LET 410-UBP-E20 (Лет Л-410УВП-Э20) – MSN 132909 C/N 29-09. Built September 2013 as OK-JDH
Seat: 03C – Economy (all economy)
LF: 6/19 (only me on the segment ARH-KSZ all others flying the longer route up to SCW , No Business Class.
One of the hardest things to live abroad is to be away from family and loved ones. Specially when it comes to Christmas time. Of course I have friends in Russia, but we did not have the confidence to be invited to spend the holidays. Christmas 2016 I had been alone at home, and with such sadness and having no will to do anything, just eat hotdogs and watched movies. I thought of the succulent and well decorated dishes that my mom and my aunts were preparing, despite the heat, in Tucumán, Argentina (my home town), to take to the family dinner. Think that for orthodox countries, Christmas is not until January 7, so December 24 or 25 are common and working days.
For New Year, everything looked as it would be the same. And on top of that, on the 31st, I woke up at 3:30 p.m. (a lot of work during that week, which is the exam period). Knowing that everything would be more or less wrong, I put 5 things in my backpack, closed the apartment and got on my well-loved Audi A3 called Stratookha (Old Lady), which has almost all the mechanical problems that can occur to a car..
Then I lived in Odintsovo (west) and traveled all the MKAD (ring road) to the exit of the M8 route, towards Arkhangelsk.
Already on the M8, away from Moscow, I saw one of these large supermarkets, called Globus, where I had one of the ugliest dinners in centuries (Russian food, in truth, is bad, but the food of a hypermarket fast food is inedible).
Around 9:00 I made a stop to think about where I would sleep. I had no plans either. Yaroslavl was the logical choice, but it's a city I visited too many times. Diverting to Kostroma was a good option since it is a city that I love. But I also go often and hotels seemed very expensive or fully booked, or simply closed. So I continued north, and arrived at Vologda, "the city of butter". It is a city without many attractions (I would think none). On booking.com I found a hotel quickly. I left my backpack, and asked what there was to do in the new year. Said the employee (who was with a girlfriend at the counter) to go to the Revolution Square (where else?), that there would be fireworks and music. The temperature at that time was -25C (-13F). I went walking there. I arrived at 23:45. I found a guy who sold Shaurmas (dönner in German, meat sandwiches of turk origin mostly eaten on the street, which are the perfect size to replace a dinner). I bought one and a cocacola. At 23:57 people were very excited and a giant screen was lit with satellite transmission (well, I think it was just TV) from the Red Square in Moscow. The tradition is that at 23:59 the president of a speech of a few seconds, at 00:00 is given, and at 00:01 begins a party that ends only the next day.
Putin's speech was very brief, and he especially greeted the people who were working that night: nurses, drivers, soldiers, policemen. As always he wished happiness, health and joy for the year 2017. The people, contrary to Moscow, were much more excited and brought the children, in Moscow nobody takes the boys, because it is a party of 4 million people. Here we were, at best, 100. That square saw major rallies ...
At 00:05 I went back to the hotel. Look at the map of what I could do the next day. I found that I could go to Veliky Ustiug, the city of Santa Claus (here called Diod Maroz - the old man from the cold). It wasn't easy to find accomodation there, so I'd have to stay in the following city, some 70km further north-east.
On January 1 I drove between Vologda and Kotlas (513km) with many detours and once my car was buried in the snow and a man towed me with his tractor. I arrived at Kotlas at about 20, and it was quite difficult to get a hotel, since Booking left to book, but the hotels were closed. So I discovered that at the train station there was a very small hotel (4 rooms) that is designed for people who have to wait from one train to the other. There was no bathroom in the room, but at least it was clean.
At about 4 in the morning I woke up from boredom. I thought about what I could do, not at that time, but in general, in the coming days. I read about that city where I was where there was nothing. I saw a picture of their airport and I read that there were 3 weekly flights to Arkhangelsk, the provincial capital, in Let410, a Czech airplane that had never flown.
Unfortunately, the next flight from Kotlas to Arkhangelsk was three days from now, and I did not feel like waiting for so long. However, I could go by train on the way out and return by plane. I bought the one-way ticket without thinking twice. It was something expensive (4000rub - 80U $ S) but not impossible.
I wanted to go for a walk walking. The cold was extreme. I only managed to get to the station. There was a train to Arkhangelsk in 6 hours. And I still had my student ID (although I have not been a student for a long time) but it cost 40% less. I allowed myself a ticket in first class, I looked for my backpack, and I left the hotel. I left the car at the station.
The train ride was long and the scenery quite the same. Snow for one side and for the other. At some point we passed the space base of Plesetsk (cosmodrome) and the next day (yes, the train took 19 hours), we arrived at Arkhangelsk.
This was the northernmost city in the world for many years. It was founded in 1547, and its port and shipyard was founded by Peter the Great in 1693. It was not as successful as that of St. Petersburg, founded in 1722, since the waters of Arkhangelsk are frozen for 5 months a year. It is 35km from Severodvinsk, the city where nuclear submarines are manufactured. You can not go to that city. However, it is still a large city of about 350,000 inhabitants, and with several things to do.
So on Jan 2nd I spent it on the train, and on the 3rd I visited Arkhangelsk. I went to a literary café where I saw that in the Arctic, there are only 3 hours of sun per day, that losing almost 2 in a bar does not make sense. From now on I would make my meals at hours without light. I enjoyed pretty much the views of Arkhangelsk despite the cold and the night. It's a city worth returning at some point.
The big small day arrived on January 4th. A taxi took me to the Talagi airport, about 20 minutes away. The airport is simple, a bit chaotic, but it is noticeable that it has been worse before. That is, passenger traffic has decreased a lot in recent years, so no major work is expected in the short term. My flight was almost empty (we were 6 passengers nothing more). The plane made the route SCW-KSZ-ARH-KSZ-SCW. The other 5 passengers continued to SCW, and I was the only one who got off at Kotlas. The flight to Syktyvkar cost more than twice as much, and it also meant another night on the train in order to get back to Kotlas to pick my car and continue the "so called winter adventure". I settled for this "provincial" flight since both Arkhangelsk and Kotlas remain in the same province (here called Oblast).
In short, here is the video-report. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J-gYebFk84
But hey, this long introduction for a relatively short flight.
After landing in the very small airport of Kotlas, I called a taxi and went to the station to pick my car and drive further north, to Syktyvkar. As soon as I got there, I was asked to return to Moscow for work, so I spent just a night there, another in Kirov and drove the very long icy road back to Moscow.
Hope you enjoy it and invite you to read some other of my previous trip reports like these ones:
Aerosur 5L544: MAD-VVI - First Class B744. FEB2012 http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forum ... ain/252634
Austral AR2479: TUC-AEP E190. Domestic Argentina http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forum ... ain/253321
Vladavia XF4649: UUD-SVO - Tu204. Frozen Siberia http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forum ... ain/253835
UTair Express: UR197 VKO-VOZ - ATR7. Sunny Russia http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forum ... ain/257304
Pobeda Inaugural Flight: VKO-VOG-VKO http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forum ... ain/260279
S7-910 EVN-DME A321 - From Armenia With Love http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forum ... ain/265280
Holidays In Montenegro And Air Serbia TIV-BEG-SVO http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forum ... ain/271242
Tupolev 154 In Russian’s Mild Winter VKO-SVX 4G409 viewtopic.php?t=980465
PS: due to unknown reasons, the photos of most of all the previous reports have banished. Maybe this video is a long term solution in order not to loose the work we make while creating a trip report, editing photos and multiple etcs. Also, allow me to say this is the first ever video I've done, so it should be full of flaws, but please, let me share.