It’s often been said that the view across the Siberian tundra from St Portico’s Peak, Western Strelka-Chunya, Siberia, is the most beautiful in all of Russia. Sadly Google has neglected this stunning part of the world and a search reveals just its location, weather maps and an online dating site where we are assured girls are waiting for us.
It’s only if you have the guts, the shear tenacity to travel to this jewel in Siberia’s crown that you can truly see the magnificence of the place.
Travelling to Strelka-Chunya involves 37 different stops and almost every transportation known to womankind; planes, trains, cars, horse and cart, boat, amphibious lander, helicopter, snowmobile and finally walking (the last 20 miles with snow shoes).
We stayed in the Holton Strelka-Chunya Grande, owned by Michael Alexandrovitch and his friend Loenid Alexandrovitch. It’s a modest 10-room hotel. While it’s rated as minus three stars, doesn’t serve food, have a pool, towels, soaps or sheets and blankets, and only modest heating in winter, it is a roof over your head in an otherwise unforgiving wilderness.
The people of Strelka-Chunya are very friendly. There are about 1,500 residents, amazingly with only three surnames between them. Their appearance is a cross between ethnic Russian and Mongol. Almost every resident has some genetic defect, be it six fingers or toes on one hand or foot, or six fingers or toes between both hand and feet. It’s quite unsettling.
The whole town revolves around three locations, the convent of Our Lady Maria Alexandrovitch, the town’s one and only bar and the local barber at St Portico’s Peak. We can skip the bar which is basically some wooden tables and chairs and a wooden plank with some bottles of vodka.
St Portico’s Peak is at quite an elevation and the ‘keeper’ will push you up the hill in a small cart for 12 kopeks. Once at the top Alexander Alexandrovitch will offer to cut your hair while you stare out of the window at the heavenly view. Well that’s what the sign says.
We must point out that this barber is for men only. Men have their cut her on average once every two weeks. This obsession with hair cutting can be explained when we realize that the magnificent Siberian view out of the window of the barber’s on St Portico’s Peak is in fact a view straight into the convent of Our Lady Maria Alexandrovitch. Not only that but it appears there is an uninterrupted view into the nuns’ bathing room.
It has to be said we thoroughly enjoyed our day in Strelka-Chunya and the view truly is magnificent, just not what we were expecting.
(Photo is illustrative only. Shame really)