July and August, 2011
My first Russian visit starts in the commercial and industrial port of Murmansk in the Barents Sea. Finally I have made it to Russia!
The National Geographic Explorer approaches the dock amongst loading cranes and commercial railways.
There to greet us are our customs and immigration officials, and the local canine club.
With a current population of a little over 300,000 people, Murmansk has declined in population drastically, losing over 150,000 residents in the last 20 years.
The signs are everywhere of a very busy and important port (the largest city in the world above the Arctic Circle), but these days the city seemed to be asleep as there are very few ships coming and going.
Buildings and the docks themselves are showing signs of decay and disuse. This once important military shipyard is full of rusting hulks.
Of course there are still signs of the communist regime, but capitalism is the predominant theme now.
The Memorial to the Patriotic War reminds us that Russia and America fought together not so long ago...
A grim reminder of what we are all capable of...
Clearing both into and out of Russia happened for us here in Murmansk. A very sobering beginning and ending to our expedition!
The "Kapitan Dranitsyn
" alongside the wharf. This is the Russian ice breaker that Lindblad
used in 2004 to travel to Franz Josef Land.
A nuclear powered submarine is one of the last things we see when leaving Murmansk...
In 2012 I will once again travel to Russia with Lindblad Expeditions. For more information please go to www.expeditions.com