I had always thought that the Urals were mountains. But that’s not quite the impression one gets by driving through the Urals. The map shows some peaks close to 2000 meters but apart from a few such mountains the visible change is just that the steppe has ended. There are hills and slopes and there is forest. Just like in Ufa it seems to be everywhere. But in Perm it closes in on you. The city is not an island in the forest but overwhelmed by forest. Only the river provides a little opening. Without the Kama one might be overcome with claustrophobia in Perm. But the city is also a pleasant surprise. It lacks the aggression and thoughtless lack of taste so overwhelming in public space in Russia. There is a lighter atmosphere than I have perceived anywhere in this country. For the first time I see Russian pedestrians actually wait for the green light.

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