Not everyone can say that they’ve traveled to the top of the world, but if you’re in Russia, then you’ve got a better chance than most. Located in the far north of Russia, Murmansk experiences extremely cold and long winters that last most of the year, a literal definition of a winter wonderland. A place where even the Trans-Siberian rail ends, Murmansk is a feat by itself. A perfectly livable city with a fascinating history and beautiful nature to match. JUAN WORLD PHILIPPINES 34i Le Grand Tower 2, Eastwood City, Quezon City Facebook: @juanworldphilippines Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.juanworld.ph Contact: (+632) 636 0739, +63 917 529 2200 Watch Video: A Tour of Russia’s Greatest Cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg and Murmansk Russia Series • ST. PETERSBURG: The Greatest City in Russia • MURMANSK: The Northernmost City above the Arctic Circle • MOSCOW: A Tour of the Iconic Red Square and Kremlin Murmansk is a city located in the far northwest part of Russia and is the largest city located above the Arctic Circle. And the Murmansk seaport is one of the largest ice-free ports in Russia. Ironically, Murmansk itself isn’t ice-free, In fact, it’s covered under piles of snow almost all year round. In here you can see the second tallest structure in all of Russia. The Alyosha monument, A statue of a soldier of the Soviet Arctic during the Great Patriotic War. And just like most war memorials in Russia, the monument keeps an eternal burning flame to commemorate the brave soldiers and this hero city. The port city of Murmansk is one of the most important cities in Russia during the WWII due to its unique location for trading and advancements in nuclear-powered icebreaker ships. Ships that are capable of breaking the ice in the artic and making their own routes for trading and military power. The city itself has relatively developed hotels, malls, and commercial centers. And in here you can also find the worlds most northernmost McDonalds. Definitely something worth visiting whenever you’re there. But where Murmansk really shines is it unique wilderness. From Murmansk, we traveled more than 2 hours up north to a winter destination famous for viewing the Northern lights or Aurora borealis. Sadly, we didn’t get to see the lights during our stay because of the thick snow and bad weather. We spent almost four days and three nights in Murmansk and relived a castaway life inside this cozy wooden cottage. Located out of nowhere, I was surprised that these houses are surprisingly comfortable and modern on the inside. Aside from the rooms and common area for dining and events, there is also a traditional Russian sauna heated by wood. The night that we arrived, they even served us home cooked local dishes like borscht (Russian soup) and reindeer meat that tasted like regular beef but tougher. Our host’s also performed traditional and tribal dances and even held contest and games unique to the region. And on the next day, we were treated to a bunch of different activities which includes; Driving through scenic forests and frozen lakes on our 4×4 off-road vehicles. Teaching us how to fish in ice cold lakes while they cook some freshly caught fish for us. Playing the role of a “hunter” as we fired rifle rounds at the makeshift targets. Heck simply walking in the snow-covered forest was a treat by itself! The perfect definition of a winter wonderland. There is also a fishing lodge with a fireplace nearby for those who feel like getting warmer. Exploring BIG empty frozen lakes. Here is a photo of our guide bravely testing the thickness of the ice to see if we can go out and explore it on our own. After a couple of minutes, our guides/hunters confirmed that the ice is thick enough to safely walk on. They even demonstrated to us how thick is the ice wall that separates us and the freezing cold water beneath us. When we went, the ice was around 6 inches thick, perfect for catching river perch, pike and bull trout fishes. Then it started getting dark at around 3 pm, not really surprising considering the sun doesn’t shine in Murmansk for up to 40 days in a year. I could easily spend a day or two just exploring the vast wilderness on foot. But we had to leave as soon as darkness starts to creep in. On our last day, we then headed to my favorite place on earth, the Husky Park. A haven for snow dog breeds like the Siberian Husky that originated in north-eastern Siberia, Russia. But even before we get to ride and play with the huskie we were invited by the owners to witness a shaman folk show and ritual dancing by the Saami natives. The Sami people are the proud native inhabitants of Murmansk and some large parts of Norway, Sweden, and Finland (Fun Fact: Finland is only a 2 hour drive from Murmansk.) And of course the highlight of our Murmansk trip, the stunningly beautiful Siberian Huskies. We did a long ride, and the landscape is just breathtaking! The ride itself is exhilarating and thrilling! And the experience of riding behind these beautiful animals was indeed a unique experience. After riding the husky, we also got a chance to be pulled by a snowmobile to various scenic locations. We even wore a traditional windbreaker to counter the extreme wind and snow. After the ride, we got to play with the extremely hyper and friendly dogs. Even the family who owns the business are very kind and helpful. The dogs also seemed happy while doing all the heavy pulling and are more than happy to be approached and played with. If you love dogs then this is perfect for you! You can also visit a nearby reindeer ranch where they breed reindeers. Also, there is a resident shaman who could look into your future if you wish. On a good day the Northern lights should be visible within the husky park, but when we went, we couldn’t see anything because of the cloudy weather. We then went to another famous northern lights observatory to have our farewell dinner and another last chance to spot the northern lights. While waiting for the northern lights to show up, they served us hot from the grill king crab and fresh seafood while playing games with the locals and hosts. Sadly, the northern lights decided not to show up, but we had an awesome trip nonetheless. We visited during the month of November, and they say the best time to visit is in the month of December to march. Overall, Murmansk if my favorite out the three big cities that I visited. Yes, it snows most of the time, but the kind and warm people or Murmansk makes me feel at home, back in the tropics. There are only eight countries on the planet that stretch above the article circle and Murmansk is one of them, possibly one of my favorite places on earth. JUAN WORLD PHILIPPINES 34i Le Grand Tower 2, Eastwood City, Quezon City Facebook: @juanworldphilippines Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.juanworld.ph Contact: (+632) 636 0739, +63 917 529 2200 Watch Video: A Tour of Russia’s Greatest Cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg and Murmansk Russia Series • ST. PETERSBURG: The Greatest City in Russia • MURMANSK: The Northernmost City above the Arctic Circle • MOSCOW: A Tour of the Iconic Red Square and Kremlin Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: Our tour in Russia was courtesy of Juan World Philippines. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.