try a
Hangover Prevention Strategy

or a
Meringue Recipe

dip into
Russian Feminism Resources

or see what I do to
Get a Life

hello to everyone at Tver InterContact

hello to the women from ONA

hello to Irina from the Internet Centre at Tver' Regional Library

hello to anyone else in Tver' who may be reading this (search engines do work in mysterious ways...)

There's lots more about Tver' on the Web! Take a look at the Tver City Guide

  frozen Volga 29Kb Statue of Afanasii Nikitin viewed from the middle of the frozen Volga.

River (47K)

Sliders (48K)

Cinema (40K)

Gardens (80K)

Pushkin (23K)

Nikitin (52K)

Icicles (48K)

I am standing on the ice in the middle of the Volga River.
It's a fine Saturday morning in February '98, the sky a cloudless blue, the snow brilliantly white in the sun, the temperature a crisp -20 degrees Celsius.

The Volga begins in the western hills of the Tver' Region. By the time it passes through the city of Tver', it's about 200 metres in width and gets much wider still on its long route to the Caspian Sea. I've lived most of my life in Australia, where rivers are seldom this big and never this solid. During my two winter months in Tver' I keep stopping to stare at the Volga. Wow, frozen river. Big frozen river.

The locals casually use it as a short-cut across the city centre, creating well-worn paths in the snow from one icy set of riverbank steps to another; they also ski down it and drill little round holes in the ice to fish. On a fine morning like this, the most popular sliding site by the Old Bridge is packed with shrieking children, repeatedly whooshing down the riverbank on sleds, plastic bags or bits of cardboard.

I walk along the riverbank a lot. Just downstream from the New Bridge stretches a long row of 18th-century houses, pastel-coloured pink, blue or green; then I go under the bridge and past the Star Cinema, an art deco creation where I've seen one movie and one cat show. Next come the City Gardens, a tall ferris wheel and other funfair equipment among snow-covered firs and birches, all surrounding the city's largest 18th-century building - one of Catherine the Great's stopover palaces along the road from Moscow to St Petersburg. A dress of hers is preserved in the Tver' Regional Museum. Looks like it might fit me.

I often pause by the inevitable statue of Pushkin, snow-dusted black iron on the riverbank edge of the Gardens. From here I can see both bridges, and the city's northern suburbs across the river. On the opposite bank, facing the 19th-century Pushkin, stands a 1960's monument to Afanasii Nikitin, a Tver' merchant who journeyed to India in the 1460's and wrote a book about his travels which is still widely read. His statue's base is in the form of a ship's prow; dusted with snow, it looms over you as you climb up the steps from the ice after crossing the river.

Walking on ice. Trying not to think about how much cold dark water is under this ice - though one local assures me that a 20-centimetre layer of ice is enough to support a tank. The ice is covered in snow: a broad, incredibly long shining plain of white. I can feel its chilly breath against my face as I walk across, and the wind makes me pull the scarf up over my chin and let down the earflaps of my Russian-stereotype fur hat. (Let the rabbit not have died in vain.)

I've always preferred cold weather to hot, but here in Tver' I think I could become a snow fetishist. There's different kinds of snow depending on how cold it is, ranging from tiny white dots to soft clumps of flakes which do a wild swirling dance under the streetlights when it snows at night. And if a stray sunbeam breaks through while it's snowing, it looks like it's raining glitter. I stare at snowflakes, and I'm impressed - they really do have six points and they're all different - I'd always thought this was just artistic convention. I also stare at icicles, only because I've never seen them before outside a refrigerator; a tall classmate kindly breaks one off for me so I can see it close up.

Click here to view details of current weather in Tver', Russia

Tver' also looks rather lovely in summer.

Tver' (rhymes with hair, not fur) is the capital of the Tver' Region, Russian Federation. It's a city of around half a million people, 160km north-west of Moscow, founded in the 13th century. The city centre's layout dates from a major redesign and building program that followed the great fire of 1763.

I spent January and February '98 in Tver' at the Winter School of Applied Russian Studies run by Tver InterContact. In February 1999 I came back for a longer stay, and here I still am!

There's lots more about Tver' on the Web!
Take a look at the Tver City Guide

Created by elleon in Melbourne, Australia; now relocated to Tver, Russia.
This page created in August 1998, updated on January 7, 2000.