When the Lonely Planet books fall a little short…So here’s the description of the Academy of Geology Hotel here in Ekaterinburg, as provided in the Lonely Planet Trans-Siberian Railway book:
Bldg 6, prosp Lenina 54
Singles/doubles with breakfast $26/30. This is the best budget option with smart, spacious rooms in a quite complex tucked away off the main road.
Yeah. So let me tell you how we found the place. First of all, we found Lenina Prospekt — that wasn’t hard. We walked all the way down to #54 (buildings aren’t individually numbered here, they go in groups). When you get into cases where buildings are in groups, they’re numbered something like 54/6 — such as the building holding our hotel.
Admittedly, I don’t know what exactly Amy was looking for, but I guess I expected something a little more … less apartment-y, which is what the 54 block looked like. We found 54/5, but couldn’t find 54/6. So we started walking around. A kind gentleman, about early 40s, asked us a question. We replied, sheepishly:
ya neh gavaroo pa-rooskie
Yeah, you guessed it: “I don’t speak Russian.”
This didn’t stop him, or us, and we proceeded to point, speak slowly (in both languages) until he dug out a map. Turns out that a building in the “courtyard” was the one we wanted. The side we could see was partly boarded up and covered in grafitti. We walked around to the other side and found the “Academy of Geology” sign, which we could barely read thanks to a Russian trend to use words similar to those in English, but with different spelling. The woman inside was totally unintelligable, and suggested (though her thick, steel bar window) that we should walk around the building. To the graffiti side, it seemed.
Luckily, a boy about 15 years old spoke up — speaking just enough English to understand that we couldn’t find the place. Back to the old woman. Conversation, back around to the side (west side, to be specific) of the building to a very unmarked and handle-less door. Pressing a little black buzzer above the door called the attendant, upon which we found out, that yes, this was the place.
For the record, the hotel is fairly nice, but certainly nothing special. So a word of warning to those of you looking for the hotel — it’s not clearly marked in the Lonely Planet books, and may require some assistance.