Babí Léta in Novosibirsk

Babí Léta means Indian Summer in Russian and describes well my first week in Novosibirsk. We had mild and sunny autumn weather with temperature peaking at around 20°C while it was icy and snowing in Moscow. So Siberia isn’t always cold!


Russian BanyaThrough HelpX I had found a really nice and kind family and stayed with them for twelve days. I helped them in the house and in their huge garden; cutting grass, raking leaves and preparing the flower beds for winter. I got to meet some of their friends and relatives, all super friendly people. I got shown around the city, was invited to a poker game and a Jazz evening and went to a Russian banya (sauna), with birch branchlets and everything.


Novosibirsk is the third biggest city in Russia, with around 1.5 Million inhabitants. It is the capital of Siberia and a typical Russian city, with little to offer for the passing traveler – not unlike Perm and Yekaterinburg, and also Kranoyarsk, I hear. Like every other city it has a Lenin square with a big statue of their former leader, there are a few other statues and memorials, a chapel, a church, the opera house, some old buildings and some new ones, but that’s about it. You don’t go to Novosibirsk with extensive sightseeing plans. But when you go there, you will get a good idea of daily life in urban Siberia.

Lenin Square

Opera House in Novosibirsk

It does not take long from the center to the forest that surrounds the city. A Siberian silver-birch forest that was especially beautiful this October. I enjoyed numerous bike tours through the quiet woods, yellow leaves covering the ground and a warming sun glinting through the trees, engulfing everything in its golden light.


And it was not far to the river Ob either, one of Russia’s biggest streams. I came there and watched huge masses of water slowly moving by, it was almost tempting to go swimming…


But then, from one day to the next temperatures dropped and we got a short but crazy snow storm. Siberia had shown me its harsh and hostile face. Life in the city continued as usual though – women wearing skirts and men not wearing hats, no one seemed to mind the frozen walkways nor the cutting cold air. Probably because people are used to worse; 30°C below zero is usual in winter they tell me, and also -40°C is not unheard of. Too cold for me, I found out there and then, but it was nice to witness at least the onset of winter in Novosibirsk. And somehow the city looked more Siberian under a thin layer of snow.

Russian Memorial

Castle Mansion

Thank you Larisa, Sasha, Marianna, Stas, Andrei and Olga. I am really grateful for all the kindness you showed me and for all the experiences you enabled me to get!



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