Our flight was scheduled into Chelyabinsk (Челябинск) more than an hour after the closure of the car rental desk, and for that reason we decided to stay overnight in the airport hotel. This was best described as an experience; the upgraded rooms with air conditioning that we'd booked (and paid for) were not available, and as such we were installed in the cheaper rooms that were along the lines of what one would expect to find in an Ibis Budget. Fortunately it was only 17°C overnight, so I was still able to get some sleep. The breakfast looked like something that I wouldn't feed to a pig, so rather than endure that we drove to a local supermarket to buy emergency rations.
Gagarin Park Chelyabinsk
29th August 2019
Our first stop in the morning was at Gagarin Park (Парке Гагарина), one of a large number of parks across Russia to be named after the first human to journey into outer space. The Chelyabinsk park extends over twelve million square metres, and includes a water reservoir, a stone quarry, and hilly slopes that are used for skiing in the winter months.
A small amusement park occupies roughly 0.1% of the land bank in the north-eastern corner of the site, and it is here that one finds a vintage Pax Wild Train (#2803). The ride is one of six known installations of the smallest member of the Wild Train family, an eight metre high family coaster that I first encountered two years ago in Belarus. There was an unhelpful signpost in one corner with both north and south directions pointing towards Moscow, despite the Russian capital actually being some 1500 kilometres to the west. Inaccurate geography notwithstanding, however, the ride was pleasantly lively; we paid ₽140 (~€1.90) per person for a three lap cycle.
29th August 2019
Russia also has a number of parks named for Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, a playright and novelist considered by many to be the founder of modern Russian literature. The City Garden A. S. Pushkin (Городской сад им. А.С. Пушкина) in Chelyabinsk is an eighty thousand square metre green space close to the center of the city with a midway full of family rides on its western side. At one point in time the park was home to both a Pax Puss in Boots and an Analog Hoverla, though sadly both have been relocated to the great midway in the sky over the last few years. The sole coaster today was Caterpillar (#2804), a Vostok machine running a three lap cycle for ₽200 (~€2.71).
29th August 2019
Our third stop was at Krylatko, a family park located in Zlatoust (Златоуст), roughly two hours drive from Chelyabinsk. The park was open, as were a number of rides, but sadly the Caterpillar was not among them; the brightly coloured six car train was parked on the lift hill and the entrance gate was locked with a padlock. This was less annoying than it might have been, given that the park was a last minute find that was more or less on the route that we were planning to take anyway.
The weather went to hell for the next stage of our drive west towards Ufa (Уфа), and while the worst of it had burned off by the evening it made no difference: Gafuri Park, Park of Culture, and Yakutov Park were all closed due to the conditions. Our hotel was located in the city, which in theory made it possible to return to all three the next morning, but the weather forecast made that a fool's errand. There was only one thing to be done, and we did it: a return visit to Ufa has been added to the list of possibilities for our next trip to Russia.