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City of flowers and beautiful girls
Omsk review by Ken Joldersma/USA

This was my first trip to Russia and the only bad thing about the trip was the long travel time which was 31 hours total from Washington DC. The city is very beautiful but not in the Western idea of beauty. Many buildings are old and in poor repair but the historical aspect and the monuments and museums were very wonderful. Take the trip to Achair Convent (about an hour outside of the city) it is well worth it. They are much more casual in their outlook on life. More open than here in the US. The food was wonderful, the people were kind and patient with me as my Russian is very limited. I cannot wait until I am able to return as now I have a better feel for what is there and how to get along. The first couple of days were difficult with the jet lag and my lack of language skills. Over all I would recommend Omsk to anyone who wants to see a more Russian Russia as opposed to St. Petersburg or Moscow where it is much more Westernized.

Ken Joldersma reported on 2004-06-05 about Omsk and was there in 2004.


There are flights 3 or 4 times a day to/from Moscow (3,5 hours), most days to/from Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk, and a few times a week to Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk and Abakan. Train. By train, Yekaterinburg is about 12 hours away, Tyumen 8 hours, Novosibirsk 9,5 hours, and Moscow 42 hours.

Everyone who has once visited Omsk notices its openness and peculiarity. The city on the banks of the Irtish and Om rivers is beautiful in a Siberian manner, characteristic only of the Siberian towns. The region is worth visiting for its remarkable nature, historical heritage and crafts work.


When you come to this part of Russia, you will be surprised by the first settlers’ courage and persistence in exploring and inhabiting this unfriendly, severe but beautiful land.

What is the best time
Strange as it may seem winter ( from late November to the middle of March) is beautiful in Omsk and the region and that is what most people in the West do not have ( we are not talking about the Finns!). Again our favourite John Fraser: 'To talk of a Siberian winter is, I know, to make one shudder. Yet in all the towns I visited people said, 'Why do you come here in the summer, when our roads are so dusty? It is in winter we have a good time. It is cold, 20 degrees, of frost, but you don't feel it much, for it is so dry and the air so still. The sky is cloudless for a month at a time. Then the sledging-ah, it is when the sledging is in full swing you should see a Siberian town!'
Sommers are great but mostly hot and dry( June - August ). Springs and falls are short and sometimes not really comfortable ( April and mid-May/ mid-October - late November ).


Arrival

It's better to have somebody in Omsk to pick you up from the station or the airport as the taxi rascals try hard to make you pay extra hard for a short trip. You can also use our travel package!

Hotels in Omsk
Not a great story indeed, although the situation is getting better! We suggest that you stay directly in the center where our walking tours starts. There we have two hotels that merit your attention:

1.Hotel Mayak.
Some say that amongst the blind one-eyed is a king. Concret in our situation this applies to this hotel. The very heart of the City, very cosy rooms, nice and welcoming stuff - what else can a tired traveller wish in remote Siberia!

2.Hotel 'Tourist'
It is a 9-storied hotel with really not the best architecture even in Soviet terms. Your compensation: you put up directly in the center just opposite the Mayak hotel and have splendid views ( get as high as you can!) either right into the center of the City with its central squire or the Irtysh valley with the historical Kolchak home beneath. It is also cheaper than Mayak.

3.Hotel 'Irtysh'
Ideal for those who are seeking refuge from noisy crowds as it is situated in a park zone and provides quiet and peaceful atmosphere. Just 15 minutes from the city centre, 30 minutes from the railway station and 40 minutes from the airport.

4.Hotel Molodezhnaya. Is a little too far from the center and is among typical soviet-styled apartment blocks. Some like the atmosphere there. Really only some.

Room rates given below include costs of reservation. Prices in Euro are based upon B&B per person per night. Check out time -12 am.

single double
Mayak ( 3 ***) 55 40
Molodezhnaya ( 3 ***) 25 23
Irtysh ( 3***) 27-34 24
Tourist ( tourist class ) 30-38 20-25

Note: Payment upon arrival at hotel in advance. Prices can slightly change. Booking is 25% of the first day price.

Eating Out

There is a number of places where you can have a meal in Omsk, prices vary from USD 3-5 in fast service cafees and USD 15-20 in restraunts. Most of them are situated near hotels, and in the center of the city, so it won't be a problem to find them.

Currency exchange

ATMs. You can easily get your money from you credit cards using ATMs:
1) VISA, Eurocard/Mastercard, American Express cards are accepted;
2) Work 24 hours a day;
3) Money is given out in rubles only;
4) 1-2 % commission is charged for the transaction.
Currency exchange. You will need your passport for currency exchange.
Travel Cheques. Travel cheques ARE accepted in some Omsk banks, but they are NOT widely used in Omsk and there could be problems with them.

Entertainment

There are different nightclubs and casinos in Omsk (where you can have a rest after a day) as well as billiards, bowling, discos ect.

Communication

1) Cellular phone that supports GSM-900/1800, DAMP/AMPS, NMT-450 standards will work in Omsk.
2) Internet cafes are available in Omsk. Average price is USD1-2 per hour.

Welcome to the City of beautiful girls ( many of them speak good English) and flowers!


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