This morning we rolled into Yekaterinburg station at around 04:45, meaning that we had a good three hours to kill before we could reasonably head off to check-in at our hostel. Thankfully I had just finished all of my reading material, and so was able to read in detail the sections in my Lonely Planet guide which dealt with ‘travelling with children’ (don’t) and ‘how to deal with snakebites’ (avoid getting bitten). After checking into the excellent ‘Meeting Point’ hostel, more of which later, we headed out into Yekaterinburg in search of culture, inspiration, and above all breakfast. What we discovered was a fairly charming city with a slightly Western feel, some beautiful churches badly in need of a paint job, and at the end of the central pedestrianised area a lifesize bronze cast of Michael Jackson. Sadly the only resemblence that this monument bore to the erstwhile King of Pop was a comic sense of misproportions, and slightly flakey skin.
The ‘Meeting Point’ hostel, run by the wonderful Katia, is basically a set of bunk beds in an old soviet apartment block, but one which has been decorated in a very homely and welcoming manner. This evening I elected to make a pasta bake for the two of us, as after living in Tokyo I was desperate to use an oven, even if it was a soviet era version which required leaning halfway into the oven with a match in order to light it. There were a few nervous moments as I thought I heard the vague rumblings of an imminent explosion, but thankfully these turned out to be nothing more than the (also soviet-era) plumbing. All-in-all it was a rather delicious meal, which was even more impressive given that I had cooked the whole thing in what later turned out to be an ancient cake tin.