Blogs from Northwest, Russia, Europe


Europe » Russia » Northwest August 13th 2019

Ok, I've unfortunately stopped writing this blog, though I have visited some interesting places since my last entry made here in 2015. But now I'd like to welcome any travellers from abroad who might come to St. Petersburg to join me on my one/two-day bicycle trips in the regions around St. Petersburg. This should not be considered as commercial advertisement since I will not ask any payment. Please get in touch here via comments or messages. Best regards, Alexander Alferov.... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow August 10th 2019

Days 13 to 16 of 80 Lenin - murderer, dictator, despot, and Rolls Royce owner Today we had an early start to queue for Lenin's Tomb, that is we were there around 8.10 for a 10 am open. We had seen the queues in previous days and decided we would rather spend our two hours of queuing at the front of the queue safe in the knowledge that we would be through and done by around 10.30, rather than join later with an indeterminate exit time. TripAdvisor reviews had shown that there is no mercy in just closing entry at 1 pm on the dot - the tomb is only open on 5 days a week, for 3 hours - whether or not there are people still in the queue who may have been there for ... read more
Ashes in the Kremlin wall
Stalin's memorial
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow August 8th 2019

Days 10 to 12 of 80 As we said in the last blog the Sapsan high speed train into Moscow arrived on time (1 minute early to be precise), but just to clarify ... on the journey Pip didn't see a bear, but lots and lots of trees, with isolated, wooden-hutted villages that went by so quickly that she failed to get a picture of a single one. Maybe she'll get the timing right sometime during our first three days on the Trans-Mongolian Express. In the meantime we came across a bronze bear statue in the city centre to satisfy Pip's ursine yearnings. See photo. Do bears s*** in the woods? We have lucked out on our hotel again, finding that it is barely 10 minutes walk from the Kremlin, Red Square and barely 10 to ... read more
Tomb of Unknown Soldier
GUM department store
Street off Red Square

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg August 5th 2019

Days 7 - 9/10 of 80 Hi all It's Monday here, it's exactly 1.00 pm as we start to write this into Notepad (that's how we do this, write blog in an off-line pad and then transfer into the blog when on line) and the high speed Sapsan train in which we are sat has off set exactly on time for our 4 hours - 3 hrs 58 mins if it's exact -journey to Moscow. (It arrived 1 minute early). It's like being on an airplane, but with more leg room, and, we expect, less turbulence. They even come through the cabin seeking your small change for charity 😊 However, unlike a plane, there is access to wifi, train/travel/theatre tickets booking, shoe cleaning machine, and something properly to see out of the windows rather than 'that's ... read more
Train meal
Peterhof Upper Garden
Peterhof Upper Garden

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg August 2nd 2019

Day 4 - 6 from 80 St Petersburg is, mostly, a delightful city. So spacious. When they were laying this place out, draining the swamps, building the canals, they made sure to make the streets wide. There are no 'narrow back streets' that we can see in St P. The pavements are generous too. Maybe they needed the space for the enormous hoop bottomed dresses that the women wore, as modelled by many locals touting for 'take a photo with me' business. There are also many 'set back' areas. However there are far too many buskers and street performers. The musical buskers are a particular menace and affront to the senses. Regrettably we are not talking about Ed Sheeran wannabes, with moderate acoustic instruments. No, we are talking full on heavy rock bands complete with drum ... read more
Old master
Peter the Great'Silk great coat

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg July 29th 2019

Day 1 - 3 from 80 Good morning / afternoon /evening everyone, depending on what time it is there when you open this. Yes, we are on our travels again, so this is a sunny welcome and "Privyet!" from St Petersburg .... the Russian branch not Floridian. 3 months this time. St P, Moscow, Trans-Mongolian Express, Irkutsk, Ulaanbaatar, Beijing for a week, 3 weeks group tour of China, 3 weeks across S China and out via stays in Macau and Hong Kong. Phew... Started as usual by dropping off the car and the cat in Manchester to be baby sat by Simon. Flight to St P was with KLM via a very brief transfer in Schiphol, Amsterdam. 2 concerns about that as we set off. 1 - we had less than an hour for transfer, so ... read more
The Bronze Horseman -Peter the Great
Finial atop Admiralty building
General Staff Building, now part of the Hermitage

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow July 15th 2019

It seemed, I discovered chatting to the Russian chap sat next to me on the high speed train from St Petersberg to Moscow, I'd inadvertently booked myself into the 'Premier Economy' carriage - snack included and would you like tea or coffee with that? All bought to your seat with no need to navigate to the buffet car with the riff raff. So yes, I had found the English language version of the Russian Railways website when booking my tickets, but the myriad of symbols for different classes and options, never mind the inference of the train number being high or low, or indeed whether the train had a name, was bewildering. If nothing else this trip will be a voyage of discovery as I find out exactly what I booked! I was also amused at ... read more
Cathedral Square
Around Moscow
Cathedral Square

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg July 14th 2019

Once upon a many moons ago I started my first big adventure and moved to New Zealand for a year, with grand plans of returning home via Asia to Europe on the Transmongolian railway. I had a fab time in NZ, made it to Asia, but got slightly side tracked and moved to Australia for a year instead of heading home. Then when my time in Australia was coming to an end, returning via Asia felt like a missed opportunity, so I planned a route home via Africa, promising myself that one day I'd go back and do THAT train journey. I never thought it'd take 12 ish years to do so but finally.... I was sat on the plane at Gatwick airport when I had my first opportunity to muse that perhaps finding time to ... read more
Alexander Column
General Staff Building, Place Square
Alexander Column

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg June 3rd 2019

3rd June 2019 And now St Petersburg, Russia. Days 2 and 3 The Grey haired nomads continue their journey around the Baltic: Tallinn, (Estonia), Helsinki, (Finland) and now, St Petersburg (Russia). I guess you might call our hotel in St Petersburg good value. It seemed to be extremely popular: friendly reception, convenient for the city centre and everything worked – good shower, nice bed, furniture a bit on the basic ‘seen better days’ side, but all very functional. Breakfast was not included in our 'booked on line' package, but the busy little café just around the corner served us veggie omelettes, croissants and coffee at locals’ prices, while office workers fiddled with their phones over coffee before work and a tour-group of Italians from our hotel chatted somewhat noisily. Nadia, our guide, stood by reception ready ... read more
Catherine Palace
The four-hour queue!
Tower blocks

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg June 1st 2019

1st June 2019 And now, St Petersburg, Russia. Day 1 The Grey haired nomads continue their journey around the Baltic, Tallinn, (Estonia), Helsinki, (Finland), and now leave Helsinki by overnight ferry bound for St Petersburg, (Russia). We’ve been putting off going to St Petersburg for a number of years. British and US media can be thanked for much of that I suppose, lack of trust, anti-Russia and all that, but memories of the Cold War also persist for some of us, leaving fears of an unfriendly reception for us Westerners. There are also some complex issues of Visas. But we have finally been lured to this intriguing city by the many enthusiastic tales of its staggering beauty from those who have previously been fortunate enough to visit. There are many ways to get to St Petersburg ... read more
The Princess Anastasia
Inside Peter and Paul Cathedral
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

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