There is no possible way I can actually describe our visit to Murmansk during the city’s darkest days – as Sean and I said, it is something that just has to be experienced. You can look at my photographs but, for me, the photos don’t do the city justice. The feeling we experienced in Murmansk was really strange. Beginning with a 27 hour train ride that transports you into the northern most regions of inhabited land, you begin to feel a sense of “nowhere” and of coldness and darkness….. and then you reach the outskirts of Murmansk. When we first began approaching the city, my eyes were bulging out of my head as I stared at the edges of industrial wasteland that led to this glowing port city. Once in the city center, there is an aura of life – but not life lived by the people….. its industrial machine life. Glowing lights, black smoke (the air-quality was really terrible!), ships, fishing boats and gasoline tanks – right away, all I could think to myself was, “you are in an industrial wonderland, Lindsay!” It was quite breathtaking – being in the arctic circle surrounded by mountains, snow and experiencing the strongest source of light via the aura of industrialization. Shortly after arriving, we began to notice the sound of cranes constantly moving and the regular sound of a muffled voice shouting out commands to the workers in the port. When you paired all of this industrial light and sound with the giant hillside covered in Soviet-style apartment buildings and the giant “Мурманск-Город-Герой” (Murmansk-Hero-City) standing at the forefront, you began to feel like you were in a most surreal place. I told Sean, if ever I felt like I was part of the book 1984, this was it. It wasn’t that the people were strange – it was a completely normal Russian city on that note – it was just the feeling you got when experiencing minimal daylight, industrial glow, the soldier on the mountain watching over the city, the commanding voice and the sound of cranes – that left you feeling like you were in some sort of alternative universe. As I mentioned, it is something that can only be experienced to be truly understood. Because I took so many pictures, I will make yet another post following this one, otherwise it might be overwhelming to look through the nearly 50 photos I really want to show of the city. This first post will be photos of our first and last impressions – being our early afternoon walk as the light of day finally made it’s appearance around 1 p.m. The second post will be from our mountain hike to the overseeing soldier, shortly before daylight dwindled at 4 p.m. Somewhere in between the two hikes up the hills, we had to change shoes and socks because our feet were frozen.