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Published: September 27th 2007
What a crazy experience it is to be in Moscow.
Firstly arriving off the train from Riga at midday and making our way the 12km across Moscow from north to south to our couch-surfing host. The city has a feel quite unlike anywhere I’ve been before and you get the sense that it is throbbing with life (we did happen to arrive just in time for Moscow’s 860th birthday!)
Moscow is not cycle friendly, and we ended up walking our bikes most of the way, all up it took us a good couple of hours to get across town. The most difficult part was crossing the road when you needed to turn left, as on a bike it was impossible to cross six lanes of traffic and the underpasses for pedestrians had stairs or very steep ramps which would have been very difficult to get our heavily loaded bikes up and down.
Meaning we had to just go straight until we found a set of traffic lights where pedestrians could cross and then back track to where we had intended to turn.
We had a map of scale 1: 36 000 and navigating was not difficult because we
A fellow couch surfer..
actually he owns the couch!
could use the street layout and match the Cyrillic to that on the map.
Being in Moscow feels like being in the middle of a giant puzzle because of the Cyrillic script and the fact that the average person on the street does not speak English.
Which is really quite exciting because travelling in Europe is all too easy and safe (by that I mean well within ones comfort zone) Here is very challenging and for the first time on this trip I feel as if I am outside of my comfort zone!
Soon we had a love hate relationship with Moscow. It can be an unfriendly and infinitely frustrating place. It is also evocative, beautiful, and fascinating.
The bicycle’s carriage on the train became a major drama and our original plan to get on and off the train in various locations were soon scrapped, and the decision to take the bikes straight to Irkutsk (a 77 hour train journey) was made. This was after having spent almost 3 days in ticket offices making enquiries, and we observed from those who helped us that even those who speak Russian have trouble navigating their own system. We
heard the all too familiar ‘Nyet’ (‘No’) too many times after queuing repeatedly and being sent all over the station.
But in Moscow it seemed that for every person (usually a staff member at the train station) who would fix us with a grumpy stare and say ‘Nyet’ we would find someone willing to spend time helping us.
A little tribute to all those who helped us:
Deric who hosted us, and allowed us to extend our stay in Moscow when our plans did not go smoothly
Maria (a fellow couch-surfer) who helped us to register our visas and offered to spend her holiday time helping us to buy tickets at the station
Anton ( a fellow couch-surfer) who spent 2 hours helping us to locate a bike shop so that the bike pedals could be removed before getting on the train
Jasmina (another fellow couch-surfer) who met us at the station on the day we travelled so we could understand what was required in terms of weighing the bikes and obtaining the baggage ticket
Stamatis (yes, another couch surfer) who wrote in Cyrillic for us so that the ticket sellers could understand what we wanted
Ivan the Terrible's bell
it was too big and cracked in the foundry
girl with a bicycle who we accosted at a station when at a total loss as to what to do next, and she spent about an hour making enquiries on our behalf!
And the dutch traveller who watched our luggage while the final drama of putting the bicycles into the baggage wagon was occurring!
Aug 29 day 135 Riga to Moscow by overnight sleeper train
Train tickets to Moscow x 2 90 Lat (3rd class with bike tickets also)
Groceries/food/drink = 11.60 Lat
Reading material for train = 10.75 Lat
Post = 15.5 Lat
Bike tubes = 4.20 Lat
Methylated spirits = 3.1 Lat
Total = 135.15 Lat
Euro = 189.21 (580.45)
Aug 30 day 136 Moscow - couchsurfing
Groceries = 642 RB
Gorky Park entrance = 50 RB
Total = 692 RB
Total = 19.5 euro
Exchange rate 50 RB = 1.4 euros
Aug 31 day 137 Moscow - couchsurfing
Visa registration x 2 = 1900 (done at Home from Home hostel with help of Russian girl (Maria) This involved paying registration fee of 500 RB and the cost for 2 persons to stay one night at the hostel (this cost
was split between 3 persons)
Meal in canteen and drinks - 560 RB
Metro tickets - 140 RB for 10 trips
Russian Sim card with credit 300 RB (our English mobile phones with Orange Pay as you go are unable to access local networks - unfortunately the phones are also locked and will not accept the new Russian Sim cards)
Telephone card for use from phone box 110 RB (also cannot be used to call English mobile phones)
Total = 3410 RB
Total = 95.5 Euro
Sept 1 day 138 Moscow - couchsurfing - met with Heidi, Jo, and Jenny in evening at Marriot Hotel
Metro tickets 140 RB for 10 trips
Magazines for train journey 600 RB
Water purification drops 600RB
Total = 1640 RB
Total = 46 euro
Sept 2 day 139 Moscow - couchsurfing
Metro tickets 270 RB for 20 trips
Trans-siberian tickets for Baikal express to Irkutsk- 5100 RB for plaskarte ( 2550 each)
Food and drink 1080
Kremlin entry for grounds only + bag storage = 350 RB
Maps (Irkutsk and surrounding area) 350 RB
Total = 7150 RB
Total = 200 euro
day 140 Moscow- couchsurfing
Met Angie and Pete at Belorussiya (off train from Warsawa)
Food and drink - 1000RB
Total = 1400 RB
Euro = 40 euro
Sept 4 day 141 Moscow- couchsurfing
DVD for train - 150 RB
New lens cap 250 RB
Software 300 RB
Clothing market 200 + 250 + 350 + 350 RB
Supermarket/food and drink 650 RB
Tools and electric jug element - 60 + 30 + 200
Total = 2790 RB
Total = 78 euro
Tot: 0.523s; Tpl: 0.062s; cc: 25; qc: 95; dbt: 0.0606s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb