6:30am and I was up. Couldn’t even wait for the alarm at 7:00.
Blame in on being in a higher latitude. Or maybe the excitement of going to one of the largest cave systems in the world, but my body was not interested in sleep. After checking email and engaging in a further debate about Ukraine on Facebook (the referendum was in the air), I loaded up on oatmeal, coffee, and yogurt from the hotel cafe and dashed out to find the Perm bus station a few blocks up the road.
Finding stuff in Russia used to be much harder, but as the language barrier lowers, it becomes miles easier. Not always a ‘user-friendly’ place, Russia, especially the more remote areas. But what it lacks in development, it makes up for in history and gruff charm. (Both taxi drivers on the way to and from the airport were very open and engaging people, inviting me to ask about their city.)
The journey to Kungur was painless. A grubby old bus pulled up in Perm, a few folk got in, and after some birch-lined rough roads and a lot of snow, an hour and a half later we arrived. Ahead of schedule. Lovely. Rare.
The bus driver was happy to point me in the right direction of the caves. He said it was a few kilometres away, so on his advice I caught bus № 9 to keep my shoes a bit cleaner. An important thing here in Russia. I’m pretty terrible at it.
The next driver of the ‘marshrutka’ to the caves let me know when it was my stop and off I went in the direction of what seemed like nowhere. I saw the block print HOTEL СТАЛАГМИТИ (Stalagmite) nestled into some old brick and mildly scientific looking buildings in the distance.
Tomorrow, I’ll let George fill in this subterranean story with photos. Wait for it.
#3. Rolling with it.