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Published: June 14th 2011
Riga - Presidential Elections
First stop Riga - a smooth beginning of my trip - Marina and Alex picked me up from the airport , went to Jurmala for a walk along sea and stayed over at their summer house in/close to Ogre . In the morning we had a great breakfast on the terrace with Victoria and her amazing salty cucumbers . After that, Marina and I strolled through the old town of Riga observing probably the only roughly 30 people in Latvia who actively cared about the presidential election taking place that day . Then back to the airport to catch the plane to Moscow!
Moscow – big is beautiful ?!
First hurdle to take was the border control – or better call it: first encounter with the Russian logic. You have 10 counters. 9 counters have in Russian and underneath in English written: Russian citizen only! 1 counter has a sign that says in Russian ONLY that the counter is for foreigners. Why? Not sure if it’s just to confuse
Olivier - Karaoke on the boat, why not?
foreigners or if they had some left-over material which they needed to get rid of. I just had to smile – welcome to Russia 😊 Standing in the shorter than expected queue I was preparing myself for investigative questions about my purpose of coming to Russia. Given that I actually have a 3-month business visa I already had potential answers prepared in my head if asked for what kind of business reason I’m coming to Russia. None of that was actually needed… They let me pass without any questions and following Marina’s advice I made my way to the Airport Express train for the city center ignoring all the guys offering taxi service. I was tempted to answer their ‘’It’s very cheap’’ with a sarcastic ‘’not if standing 5 hours in Moscow’s traffic jams’’ – decided to refrain from it though.
Ivan, Mozart of Moscow, picked me up from the train station and as true Russian gentleman offered to carry my large backpack – thank you We decided to “quickly’’ drop my stuff at his place and then head for a walk at the port. About 1h later we got to
Masterpiece photo:) Park Pobedy
his apartment – yes Moscow is definitely big!
The few days in Moscow got filled with loads of time spent on the metro, sightseeing/ exploring the city and many conversations with Ivan. He was happy to practice his English with me, which gave me some time to adjust to and slowly get into Russian. Through a mix of English and Russian we always managed to understand each other. Apparently I already managed to integrate well into the society: No matter if on the bus, in the street or at the metro stop, somehow all the people have decided to ask me for directions in Moscow . On Saturday Ivan, his friend and I went to VDNKH – something between an exhibition center, amusement park and a fair. The main idea was to go onto the demon’s wheel to overview the city. To do this in real Russian style we bought a bottle of Медову́ха to drink it on the giant wheel😊 In the evening, Ivan invited some of his
Ivan - my host - and me in VDNKH
friends over. We spent a great evening with cooking , drinking wine , smoking kalian , playing the guitar and singing Russian songs . The next evening Ivan and I sat in front of the computer and copied Russian music on my laptop😊
4 days in Moscow have passed by and it was time to hit the road, or to be precise the train.
On the way to Yaroslavl, I decided to make a 3 hours stop in Sergiev Posad – apparently the place where it all began with the Russian church. The town is really small, at least for Russian standards, consequently I’ve decided to make my way to the famous monastery with my big backpack. After only a few turns, I was able to enjoy the entire beauty of it from afar . Inside the monastery I felt a bit out of place, so I made a quick tour and took some pictures [I know I should have pay for it as it is usual in Russia –
Some church ;)
it is however also usual in Russia to be unable to actually understand where I was supposed to pay for that]. Still about 2h left until my train to Yaroslavl was departing – I decided to give the funny looking restaurant with view on the monastery a try. 5min passed – I was eating shashlik, drinking beer, having a good laugh and an invitation to Krasnodar to visit three friendly Russians. So the 2h practically flew by and I just about made it for my train.
In the train to Yaroslavl, i was hoping to get some rest – an elderly – not sure if I’d call him funny or strange – guy sat next to me and obviously disagreed with my plan to relax. His daughter seems to live in Heilbronn, and he apparently saw quite a bit of Europe – so he pulled out all the words he know in German and French😊 At every stop we made, he ran out to smoke a cigarette , this was my opportunity to close my eyes and dose off…
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