I arrived in the middle of the night in Yekaterinburg. I booked with the Art Hostel in Yekaterinburg. Now, I just needed to find it.
The Trans Siberian Railway had brought me to Yekaterinburg all the way from Moscow. When I left the station at 4 am, the streets and the square in front of the station were desolate. I tried to get a driver with Uber, but that didn’t work at first. I could see the driver approaching on the map on my phone, but it was as if he failed to reach me. There was no choice, but to cancel, take a local cab, and ten minutes later I was on my way to the hotel.
Finding the Art hostel
I booked the hotel during a stop with the train via hotels.com. An employee reached out via Whatsapp earlier in the day, so at least I expected them to know I was arriving. When the driver entered a very small and dark alley and told me the hotel was here, I called them from within the car. There was no sign anywhere indicating a hotel anywhere in the buildings we are standing in front of. The address, however, checks out… The girl on the phone speaks very poor English, so I give my phone to the driver. She insists that we’re at the right place and that she’ll pick me up at the street.
The girl arrives at the car and walks me to a building. No sign still from a hotel. She opens the door of the building and walks me five flights of stairs to an apartment door. Behind that door was an improvised reception desk, and a couple of doors with names of rooms. She shows me a room with a bed, and I crash there. Since the room had no curtains, I woke up early. The next morning I take a good look at the place, and I assume this is an illegal hostel. The capitalism and the excesses, this must be that other Russia. I’m the only western guest staying here. One night was done, one to go.
A different city
When I walk the street of Yekaterinburg with the camera, the reactions are a bit different than what I was used to in Moscow. The 1800 kilometer I crossed brought me from the “free” Moscow to the rather old-fashioned thinking Yekaterinburg. It will not stop me to discover this city and the surroundings a bit further. The Art Hostel proves to be, despite its rather weird situation, not a bad place to discover the city.
Update May 2018 – I get word that the Art Hostel has closed in its old location and has moved. I’ll update if and when the owners get back to me.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.