Most probably you never heard about Barnaul, but it is one of the greatest towns in Siberia. There are many reasons for it: proximity of Altay mountains makes it a great recreating place, central position in Siberia
When you enter Barnaul, you'll see this Hollywood-like sign. And ads in the city say:
"Barnaul - the City of the Future"
The center of Barnaul is very compact, there are not many cars, good restaurants and open-air cafes, one of the most "progressive" dance clubs in Siberia, and surprisingly cheap and good hotels.
There are about 750,000 people living in Barnaul and it is situated about 4300 km from Moscow. Trans-Siberian railway passes through Novosibirsk, which is 250 km to the north, and Altay mountains are about 300 km further to south.
If you travel along the Trans-Siberian we can definitely recommend you to take a train from Novosibirsk to Barnaul and stay there for a few days. You will definitely have good time and maybe even give in to temptations and travel further to Altay mountains.
The modern life in Barnaul seems to be doing well. Such subjective factor as expressions of people's faces tell a lot: they all seem happy and enjoy life
There are also good hotels, all centrally located, where you can get a good room for as low as $15 per night.
The other infrastructure, such as retailing, internet, communication, banking is well-developed: there are a few 24-hour internet cafes in the center and currency exchange offices.
There are a lot of universities in Barnaul, so it is quite a "young" town, attracting youth from nearby smaller towns and regions. The major industry is agriculture.
Barnaul is also known for its popularity among German businessmen. Altay krai used to be a place where Germans, who were invited to Russia by Ekaterina 2, lived many hundreds years ago. With the break of the Soviet state, many of them came back to Germany, however, there are good business links now, and old relationship contribute to that.