Back up on the high latitude road across Siberia now, a location where the living environment is harsh, but the people very warm and generous. Our experience of Russian generosity continues with meals not being charged for in restaurants and offers of free accommodation. For sure people’s homes are a fascination and nowhere more than in the city of Tomsk.
Carved windows and tracery on old log and timber houses are a common feature of the classic Russian wooden homes from the late 18th and early 19th century. Some towns have gone out of their way to preserve this inheritance – Tomsk in Western Siberia is one such. Indeed it’s a great place to stop off when taking the high road from central to east Russia. 8 universities and 30 libraries reflect its intellectual endeavour. Indeed it’s called the ‘Oxford of Siberia’. At 56.5 degrees north, its climate is a bit harsh for most – which raises the question of how people keep warm in these wooden houses. Reticulated hot water throughout the town via lagged pipes, fireplaces and the original double glazing – glass each side of a window sill, plus on occasion, resort to wooden shutters. Together these keep the seven months per year of minus temperatures at bay.