Blogs from Russia, Europe - page 19


Europe » Russia » Siberia October 13th 2012

I opened the curtain to a freezing scene outside. During the night a good few inches of snow had fallen. My room was warm, I think the heating and hot water is always on and supplied to the entire block (I have looked round the flat and can't find a boiler) from a central boiler room. Olga had prepared some kind of oat/ porridge for breakfast, probably noticing my dislike for her pancake things. The porridge was no better though and in an effort to entice me to eat it she added a dollop of butter which made the situation even worse, I insisted that bread and jam was a sufficient breakfast even in Siberia. I left the homestay with a plan to head up to Listvyanka village about 70km from Irkutsk by public transport. The ... read more
Omul Fish
Ice Road

Europe » Russia October 13th 2012

Around 9am in the morning our cruise ship docked in St. Petersburg. Thankfully there was a breakfast buffet included in our fare onboard so we had a good meal before going through customs and passport control. The border guards gave some of the American students a tough time getting through (Eric had to sign his name twice as if they didn’t believe it was him) but for the most part it was pretty efficient. After this we began our guided bus tour of the city of St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is known as the “cultural capital” of Russia. It was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great and was the capital city up to the 20th century. There are around 5 million people on 47 islands that are split up by many rivers and canals. Our ... read more
Folk Dinner
St. Catherine's Palace Gardens
Hermitage Theatre

Europe » Russia » Siberia October 12th 2012

I was met at Irkutsk station by Lena a local Russian lady who was to take me to my homestay accommodation. I thought that it would be a good idea to experience a piece of the real Russia and stay with a local family for a few nights, something at that moment I was regretting. The night on the train from Ulaanbaatar to Irkutsk had been tough, I had little sleep and we were woken at 5am by the attendant who wanted to get the toilets cleaned before we pulled into our final destination at 7am! I was leaving the Aussie sisters who had upgraded and were off to a hotel for a few nights before we met again. A short car journey later found me at the homestay. I was in shock as I studied ... read more
Irkutsk Town
Traditional Irkutsk
Shopping in Irkutsk

Europe » Russia » Siberia October 11th 2012

I thought travelling on the train for 36 hours between Ulaanbaatar and Irtusk would be dull and uneventful, how wrong could I be. Last night (10th October) I arrived at Ulaanbaatar train station at 8.30pm. Waiting to depart in the station was a huge train with with multiple carriages, clearly the trans - Siberian express. Walking to the front of the train I pushed to the front of the steps about to board when I was stopped by yet another person wearing an official uniform. I insisted that this was my train but after some discussion soon realised that I was about to board a train destined for China! Once on board the correct train I discovered that I was sharing a cabin again with the Aussie sisters. As we squeezed into our cabin with all ... read more
Cold Siberia
More Trains

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok October 9th 2012

My proudest moment in Vladivostok has been negotiating my way around the local bus network without speaking a word of Russian. I am probably more proud than completing the Trans-Siberian. The journey only costs 30p and the buses have curtains. They are also tiny and if I have the seat over the wheel arch, even I can rest my chin on my knees. The tiny bus does mean that I get to observe my fellow passengers. One thing I have noticed is the high number of people with bunches of flowers. At least five on the single decker bus. I have also noticed several 24 hour florists accross the city. Are florists really offering such a vital service? Apparently so, if you need a rose at 3am come to Vlad. That said the flowers that the ... read more


Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk October 6th 2012

We got a marshrutka* from Lake Baikal to Irkutsk which dropped us near the bus station.*this is a common form of transport in Russia,they are minibuses that use fixed routes and are relatively cheap.We knew our hotel wasn't far but, not sure of the actual location and with two heavy rucksacks, we negotiated a price with a taxi driver who drove us the short 5 minutes to the hotel Viktoria.We were checked in by a lovely English speaking receptionist and chilled out in our large room.It had an en-suite complete with bath which is unusual in Russia.We had some laundry to catch up on and attempted to log in on the pc but there was a network problem so we headed out to eat.The hotel was just off Karl Marx Street,one of the main streets.This street ... read more
City Map
An impressive old building
One of the city museums

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok October 4th 2012

One of the guys on our trip is a man named Brian. During the War, when he was four years old, he was in the house with him Mum, Aunt and Grandmother. The house was bombed out and caught fire. They all survived but the next day he began to stutter and never stopped. Brian thought if he could speak a million words the stutter would go away. Of course it didn't but numbers give him comfort. On every stop he knows the population size, interesting facts and historial dates. He is also the only one in the group who can actually work out what time it is. This is more complicated than it might seem. The Trans-Siberian route goes right across Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok (where I am now). Crossing 9288km and seven of ... read more
Don't Climb Under Trains
Lake Baikal - Boat Trip
Irkutsk - Locals Party

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk September 28th 2012

We loaded up with instant noodles, baby wipes and beer and headed to Moscow train station for our longest leg on the Trans-Siberian railway (“railroad” for all our new USA friends :)) not quite knowing what the next 75 hours held in store. We shared our cabin with two Russians, a guy called “Timos” who spoke no English at all and a girl called “Shaska” who spoke some English... first few hours where pretty awkward but after Timos shared his vodka with us we become best of buds! We already knew about 10 people traveling with us we’d meet along the way at hostels, so we spent most of our time in the dinning cart playing cards, drinking beer & vodka shots (when in Rome...), eating caviar – uuuugggghhhh, and watching Russia turn into Siberia, the ... read more
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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Olkhon September 28th 2012

After we stepped off the train at Irkutsk 8.00am we had to make our way to Olkhon Island, an island in Lake Baikal that we were booked in to stay for the next two nights. Eventually found a mini bus heading to the island that wasn’t leaving till after lunch so we’d a few hours to kill , had something to eat and I was confronted with my biggest fear - the long drop– ohhh myyy gooddd – after three hours and a near burst kidney - I faced my fear lol We got squashed into an old shack of a minibus and belted up – oh wait there were no seatbelts!! After the bumpiest 7 hour journey, with roads that hadn’t even been made yet and a boat trip across Lake Baikal, we eventually arrived ... read more
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Europe » Russia » Northwest » Pskov September 26th 2012

Perhaps, to understand Russia better it is such old towns as Pskov that one should visit. It was first mentioned in the chronicles in 903 and is one of the oldest Russian towns. The past of the town is rather glorious, it underwent attacks by different nations, if you care to learn more about it, defended itself and flourished. I first thought of visiting Pskov as far back as 2009, and also planned to see it in 2011 several times, but only now I fulfilled my dream. By the way I did not go to see the Estonian Narva as I planned, purely due to my mistake of purchasing tickets with a too early departure time. I’ll see Narva on a day trip next time. The worst thing about this day trip was getting up at ... read more
Tower on Bank of Velikaya River
Alexander Nevsky Church
The Dog is Hot Indeed

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