Published: June 22nd 2009June 22nd 2009
this time it's the Kremlin
St Petersburg onwards
OK guys - here's the latest update. I believe I left you having got the Red Arrow to St Petersburg. Before I head into the next section, let me just give you a quick overview of the journey so far.
China - high - Great Wall - we did Mutianu but the better one to do is where you walk one of the old sections for about 4kms. The section we did was one of the more touristy parts and had been restored. Still a fantastic thing to see though. Lows - the smog and the heat. Quirky saying - Lady, Lady, you wan ride in Hutong?
Mongolia - high - staying out in the Gers and doing the horseriding even though it was bloody freezing. People were absolutely lovely - UB was a b it of a dive but OK once we got used to it. Lows - not having more time to spend out on the Steppes. Quirky saying “Oh really?” This was one of Adne's favourite sayings and it always made us laugh.
Moscow - high - being in Red Square on Russia Day for the free concert - we didn't
Relax it's the Red Arrow........
know any of the artists but it was fun. Low - for me would have to be my getting sick on the train. I can laugh about it now but at the time........ Moscow was manic too - Hostel we stayed in was fun - Godzillas, look it up on the web. We saw lots of brides but the divorce rate runs about as high as the marriage rate. Lots of incredibly high heels and so many shoes of all different types and colours. Quirky saying Spaseba - Pashalsta.
Now, arrival in St Petersburg. Found the Hostel without too much trouble - almost got put off by the smell in the stairwell but the Hostel itself was good. We had a 6 bed room to ourselves for a minute then two Russian girls moved in - they weren't very communicative. First day as we were just around the corner from the Hermitage we decided we would go there. Once again, a 2 and a half hour queue to get in then once in it was a fight to get the tickets. Once in we spent a few hours marvelling at the art works and decorations etc then it was
Cruisin down the river in St Petersburg
time to go walkabout. St Petersburg very much reminded me of Amsterdam as it has canals running all over the place. It felt very different to Moscow - a bit more peaceful. We took a ride on the canal boat on our last day - it was freezing cold and raining for much of the time but it was still very pleasant. Lots more brides everywhere - think I might do up a bride booklet with all the photos I have.
We left Russia on a bus - Eurolines. We bumped into three aussies who we had seen on the Trans Mongolian - they were also heading to Estonia. The border crossing was very easy compared to previous crossings - perhaps because it was a bus not a train. As we got into Estonia the Russian influence could still be seen - big ugly apartment blocks that looked like they had been around forever. However, once we got into Tallinn everything changed. It's very much a fairytale mediaeval town and has to be my favourite city of the trip so far. It was a tad too touristy as on every street corner there were girls in red tracksuits who
Old Tallinn town
Nice little mediaeval village
would say “Hello, how are you today - would you like to buy some postcards?” Which of course became our quirky saying. We did a free walking tour of the city and also a 3 hr bike tour which went around the outskirts -all very informative. We also decided to hop on a ferry to Helsinki for the day as it was pretty cheap - unfortunately they don't stamp your passport anymore so Lyn was a bit upset about that. It was again a really nice place, one of the things we noticed immediately with Estonia was that just about everyone speaks English - same in Helsinki - perhaps that's why I liked them so much - it had been such a struggle in Russia that it was so nice to finally have people who understood. We only had five hours in Helsinki but hopped on a tram and saw most of the city. Also hopped on a ferry over to Sareema (I think) Island - a fortress island on the world Heritage list.
From Estonia it was on to Latvia - Riga and we had planned to do some bog walking and canoeing in Soomaa National Park. We had to bus it to Parnu and were to stay in a little hostel in Joesu - when we got there the hostel looked abandoned and no-one was there. We eventually found someone who had the key and she let us in. I must get out the movie Hostel on my return as this place really gave me the creeps. Smelled like no one had been in it for months and it was rooms and rooms full of dorm beds. As we had just missed the last bus back to Parnu there was nothing else for it but to stay at the Hostel. We had dinner at the only pub in town and settled down for a good night's sleep.......... We left pretty early the next morning giving up the bog walking and canoeing plans - that will have to wait. Headed on another Eurolines bus to Riga which is where we are currently. It's very much the same a Tallinn - not quite as picturesque but similar. Our next stop, Vilnius is supposed to be more of the same so we may bifurque off the map to somewhere else. Our aim is to get down to Turkey in time for two weeks there before we have to fly out to Cairo for our Intrepid tour - fingers crossed we make it. All in all, it's all been pretty sensational!!