Introducing Kem & Rabocheostrovsk
Kem, 470km north of Petrozavodsk, has a picturesque setting where the Kem River empties into the Kemskaya Bay, but the only real reason to stop here is the daily boats to the Solovetsky Islands from Rabocheostrovsk, 10km northeast of Kem, from at least early June to late August.
Kem used to belong to the Solovetsky monastery and has always had a close connection with the islands. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Solovetsky camps' administration was based in Kem and prisoners bound for the islands would be herded through the transit camp here.
Today, Kem is a relaxed low-rise town of mainly wooden houses, with plenty of open spaces (and greenery in summer). Logging and sawmills are the area's main industries.