On Mondays I travel down to an office we call Tractorniy, but which is located in a district called Tractorzavodskiy, the Tractor Factory District. I actually teach inside a building that used to be part of the tractor factory, and it is quite an impressive building. During the war it switched to being a tank factory and this is reflected in a T-34 tank sitting in the huge forecourt that doubles up as a car park. There is also an impressive statue (I’m guessing it’s Lenin) and a mural.
I thought I should take some pictures for you while the sun is still shining.
*Edit – I was curious about a phrase written on the tank and also on a military jeep at the carnival yesterday. за родину (za rodinu) translates as “For the Motherland!”
I had four lessons today, and tomorrow I am going to a new district, Sovetskiy. I’ve been told the best way to get there is on a marshrutka – these are basically shared minibuses that zip about the city on pre-set routes but drop you off anywhere on the route you need to get off. They are kind of like if buses had Uber.
Public transport in Volgograd is very different to western cities. There are no “normal” buses with petrol engines and 4 wheels, there are trolley buses which follow overhead wires up and down the main roads in the city, there is a tram network that I use to get home from Tractorniy (there is a stop handily at the corner of my block!), but no real subway network or light rail. There is the regional railway, of course, but so far I have not had any need to leave the city. There are taxis, but with the marshrutka so cheap and frequent, they are not as ubiquitous as in big Western cities.
The marshrutka are so common that you can often get 6 or 7 stopping at one street corner at the same time, usually at crossing points. So at a crossroads, you have traffic going in 4 directions, people crossing the road in 2 directions, people in the same place hailing different marshrutka, marshrutka piling up at the corners and cars able to turn right provided there’s no-one in front of them. Add in the trolley buses and the poor state of the roads, and travelling through Volgograd can be quite hazardous at times, even for pedestrians. It’s safer to use a subway (ie underground passage) where available, and many people do.
The fares are quite reasonable – any journey costs 15 roubles in the marshrutka or the trolleybus – that’s something like 20 or 30 English pence. The tram is only slightly more expensive at 20 roubles.
Just one more bit of news to bring you – in photo form!