Russia and Poland, 1995

Copyrighted by Don Chesnut, 2004

I had planned to attend the International Carboniferous Congress in Krakow, Poland in the summer of 1995. Frank Ettensohn was also planning to attend. He suggested that, because we were going to be in the area, he and I should visit his friends in Akademgorodok, Russia. Frank had spent a winter sabbatical at the university there and had made numerous friends. He also suggested that we do some field work in Siberia as well. That sounded good to me, so he contacted his friends to make plans and to extend to us an official invitation necessary for our visa. The following is my account of the trip to Russia and Poland.

On 11 August, Frank and I drove from Lexington to the Cincinnati Airport in northern Kentucky and caught a Delta flight to Washington D.C. and then another one to Frankfurt, Germany. There we caught another flight to Moscow where we were met by one of Frank's friends, Professor Vladimir "Velodia" Lapkovsky in the evening of 12 August. Velodia was a young fellow and he was spear-heading our entire trip. I cannot praise him enough for the excellent job that he did in organizing our entire stay in Russia. Thanks, Velodia.

The next day we caught a flight to Novosibirsk where Frank and I stayed at Velodia's aunt's house; she stayed at her dacha. We next went to the Geological Academy and met our other leader, Professor Alexander "Sasha" Borovikov. We discussed our trip to the Altay and made preparations. Frank and I also met some of his other friends from the department; we went to one house in the faculty apartment area and had a nice visit with the department chairman, and a Georgian liqueur. Frank also wanted to visit a friend, Tamara Ovodova, who taught English to children. She was a very interesting lady. She took us to several places on the local buses. I followed Tamara and Frank onto one bus and a few minutes later the angry bus driver pulled me off the bus and called me a "hair" for not buying a ticket. Tamara showed him that she had our tickets and that we had indeed paid. That seemed to settle that. I thought it was interesting that the driver thought I was a local, and a vagabond at that. We next visited the following church.

For dinner, we ate at Velodia's apartment and met his wife and daughter. She prepared a wonderful meal for us. I hope to be able to return the favor (for the entire trip) some day.

The next day (14 August?) we met our drivers and their army surplus cargo truck. We loaded the truck with camping gear and set off for the Altay. My dates could be off a day, here and there. For more information about this region see the Altai Republic webpage (

14 August, from Novosibirsk to the Altay

15 August, Altay

16 August, Altay

We stayed at our main campsite that night.

17 August, Altay

We stayed at our main campsite.

18 August, Altay

We stayed at the main campsite again, I think.

The Altay is a beautiful region and it is best depicted by Altay impressionist Grigory Ivanovich Gurkin, also known as Grigory Ivanovich Choros-Gurkin (Григорий Иванович Чорос-Гуркин) (1870-1937). His paintings had been suppressed after 1937 by the Stalin regime, but recently, his work has been rediscovered. Velodia sent me a very nice book about Gurkin and his paintings and every time I look at the paintings I think about the Altay. The book was published in 1994 by Sluis Publishing in Knijnenbert, Nederland, ISBN 5-7405-0517-8. Thank you Velodia.

19 and 20 August, from Altay to Novosibirsk

We drove back to Novosibirsk along the same route as before.

When we arrived, Frank and I once again stayed at Velodia's aunt's apartment. What a generous lady. We were very dirty from camping for a week. We heated water on the stove and each took a cold water bath. I washed my clothes in the bath tub and a large amount of black water came out of them. My hair had been plastered for a week from dog saliva and it was good to finally wash that out too.

21 August, to Moscow

We flew from Novosibirsk to Moscow and stayed at an apartment with some of Velodia's friends. They had started a small and struggling wholesale grocery. My grandfather had also started a wholesale grocery in an undeveloped area (Appalachia) and that night, with a few bottle of vodka, we had discussions about the wholesale grocery industry and about my grandfather's experiences. Velodia translated for us into the wee hours. The vodka played a role in my enthusiasm. For more information about Moscow, see the official tourist webpage of Moscow (

22 August, to Warsaw

We were driven by Velodia's friends to the airport where we caught a Russian flight to Warsaw, Poland. When we got there, we checked into our room at the Polish Academy of Sciences dormitory/hotel. We were preparing to go on an International Carboniferous Congress field trip.

23 August, Warsaw

In the morning, Frank and I walked to downtown Warsaw to see the sights and we spent all day there. We must have walked into about 10 cathedrals..

That night, we stayed at the dormitory/hotel at the academy again.

24 August, started Field Trip A2

We boarded a bus and headed west to Leszcze where we inspected lots of core drilled all over Poland.

Then we went to Sulejów to stay in a very interesting monastery converted to museum and the Hotel Podklasztorze ( A short history can be seen at this website (

25 August

26 August

27 August

The field trip arrived at Krakow 27 August to attend the International Carboniferous Congress, a UNESCO-sponsored sub-commission. The Congress and the official hotel were located at the sports university on the outskirts of Krakow. Kat Unrug, a Mining Engineering professor at the Univerity of Kentucky is from Krakow. While planning the trip, he suggested that we stay in the Old Town and take public transportation to the conference. That turned out to be the best idea and everyone else was very envious. He (actually his mother, I believe) got us (Don Haney, Jim Cobb and me) reservations at the Hotel Pod Różą (Under the Rose) ( and  A friend of mine, Andy Walla, also a Mining Engineer professor at the University of Kentucky is also from Krakow. As it turned out, Andy was on sabbatical and in Krakow with his wife. The Wallas gave us a tour of Krakow and environs almost every evening of the week during the conference, including the excellent Hawełka Restauracja ( I had to deliver several papers, so could not go on a day field trip that he gave my two colleagues, but otherwise, it was the best opportunity to see Krakow. By the way, the conference dinner was in the fantastic salt works, the Wieliczka Salt Mine ( Words fail me in being able to describe this unique underground work of art. For Krakow information, see

Kraków, Old Town

These pictures were taken over the course of a week, 27 August to 2 September.

Field Trip B1, Inter-Sudetic Basin

3 September, Krakow to Wałbrzych

We drove from Krakow to Wałbrzych and then on to nearby Kśiąź Castle. We stayed in a hotel on the castle grounds. The Castle is also seen as Ksiaz or Ksioz in travel guides and historically as Schloß Fürstenstein. For more information on this castle, see this web site (

4 September, the Sudety in southwestern Poland

5 September, the Sudety in northern Czech Republic

6 September, the Sudety in southwestern Poland

6, 7 September, Wroclaw, Wrocław

This field trip ended at Wrocław. I got a hotel room (Hotel Polonia) and then spent two days walking around the city. Whereas I could get by with English in Warsaw and Krakow (along with my rudimentary Polish), English wasn't acknowledged in Wrocław. I was able to get by with German and my simple Polish. This was a German territory before the Soviets captured the area and shifted the Polish border westward. For more information about Wrocław, see

On 7 September, I took a night train to Frankfurt (am Main). I got a hotel room on 8 September and walked all over Frankfurt.

I flew back to the United States on 9 September.