We were also surprised to see a number of signs had English subtitles – a small number but evidence of perhaps a more foreigner focused town and thus for us an easier time navigating our way around.
We had booked a hotel on line due to our late arrival time but we didn’t want to get a taxi at the station as we still felt that we payed too much at Irkutsk due to taking a waiting taxi at the station. We walked into the city and the most surprising thing for us was how beautiful Yekaterinburg is. Truly spectacular and yet the guide books don’t even mention it?!!
We found a taxi, somewhat worse for wear and with a driver who looked a little the same. There was a feint smell of alcohol but he seemed OK and suggested he would take 200 rubles to take us to the hotel. I wrote it down to confirm and he nodded and off we went. When we were still in the taxi 20 minutes later, passing lots of airport signs, I began to wonder if he had misunderstood me – more worrying was that I couldn’t imagine the taxi fare only being 200 – surely a trip out of town to the airport would be more……..could he have thought I offered 2000!!????!
Then, along a freeway, in the fading light at 11.40pm, the neon of our hotel was flashing, alone in a forest, next to a lake, just a few kilometers from the airport. The taxi driver seemed to have sensed our anxiety and was a little anxious himself I think to have taken a fare to almost the airport at this time of night. I gave him 500 rubles, expecting him to ask for more and he started to dig in his pocket for change!! Where were we, Cambodia!
So, pleasantly surprised by the taxi service of Yekaterinburg, we headed into our hotel to find out why their internet map shows them next to the city lake when in fact they are next to the way-out-of-town airport!