Published: November 1st 2009
September 24th 2009
After being told "impossible" by two tour agents, five visits to the Russian Embassy, prebookıng my accomadatıon in Moscow, as well as prebooking my Trans-Siberian train ticket, changing my out going flight from Moscow by a mere 24 hours, obtaining two different invitations into Russia, completing the paperwork twice since the online forms were invalid, and paying the 131 dollar processing fee... in US bills printed in 97' or newer only... I was able to procure a 6-day transit visa the day before I had to leave Mongolia for the 101 hour, 6300km journey across the Iron Curtain.
A most relaxing and comfortable ride despite the warnings of mafia activity and overcrowding. Surprisingly, I shared the entire train carriage with only three other travelers during the supposed high season and one nonenglish speaking Russian train attendant who made me feel as though I was being reprimanded every time she spoke to me.
The train journey itself reminded me a lot of what it was like being on the good ship Euphoria... only without the seasickness and with being allowed to drink alcohol. I spent many an hour drinking vodka (its the thing to do in Russia) and staring at
One of the Many Stations.
Which were all on Moscow time despite the four time zones.
the changing movie reel of time of the Siberian landscape through my cabin window with its picturesque wooden villages and boundless wilderness of early autumn splendor. Eating, reading, sleeping, drinking, conversing, cards, more drinking, then more sleeping, and literally just staring at the passing of time as day turned into night turned into day through a smudgy window. Every 3-5 hours the train would make a 15-20 minute stop where cheap treats such as tomatoes, cucumber, perogies, roasted potatoes, and cold beer could be bought from old ladies layered in wool sweaters and head scarves.
The traın rolled through historic cities and towns known for the bırth place of Yeltsin, the death place of Lenin, the places of exile for both Dostoyevsky and the romanticized aristocratic revolutionary group known as the Decemberists.
I rolled into Moscow around 3pm on a Saturday. I had only 20hrs to experience Moscow. I spent my first hour walking around aimlessly before finding my guesthouse. I checked in, threw off the backpack, and boogied on down to find Red Square before the sunset.
Moscow was impressively clean and friendly, with a varied inspiring architecture - as oppose to the apartment block intuitional
theme I was expecting to see. After seeing the sights, I had a delicious and nostalgic dining experience at McDonalds (at Mickey D's of all places, go figure... I experienced a great familiarity of home which I haven't felt in what seems like forever there.) and headed to a club to check out all the rave that is the Russian nightlife. Yes! to answer the repeatedly asked question I've gotten from many... the women are stunningly gorgeous. Here I downed a few hundred grams of vodka, spoke to a few people in pantomime, and stumbled my way back to my bed for the early morning rise where I was off again to my next destination...
There are more photos below