Written by By Jake Fuchel, CNN Stuttgart, Germany
The moon sets, and the sun emerges. The cross divides the vast green expanses of Siberia’s Ussuri Krai region from the cold shores of the far eastern seaboard.
And across the vast number of miles below, an easy-breezy settlement of puffy blue-domed huts rises up, as it has for centuries, to watch the last of the sunburned immortals of the dwindling human race slip across their threshold.
Through the year, these islands take on a role as tourist attractions, where scouts from the Kremlin travel to join the Kievan pashmina festival and professors from the Russian Academy of Sciences trek to the bleak peaks above the frozen landscape.
For many international visitors, Rostov-on-Don is little more than a detour to hurry on through the rest of Russia. The villas, mining and metallurgical complexes along the main highway line up like a cross-country sprint alongside the fields where everything is mechanized.
But the brand new airport, opened in 2016 in celebration of Russia’s national airline, Vsevolod Rozhdestvensky Airlines , has re-opened for its first summer-season flight.
Visitors are met with a sullen expanse of new seats, just bare tarmac and snow-capped peaks looming ever so slightly over the horizon. A modest resemblance to other airports of its calibre, there is no golden archway or other eye-catching display of colonial Imperial influences — just thick black bus tracks, populated by kids on bikes and some green space between the ramshackle buildings.
The airport itself is in a grandiose style with more than 70 gates. This airport has no airfield, no runway, no control tower. Anyone could travel to Russia’s center, or vice versa, and take a similarly comfortable, albeit similar, journey. The current runway has also recently been extended, opening the possibility of more nonstop flights from Rostov to Asia, Europe and North America.