Blogs from Russia, Europe


Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk January 20th 2016

Day 4-8 and life on board the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Trans-Siberian Railway is not fast, it seems to trundle along the Russian countryside. I know it is snowing and icy, but I can’t imagine it being much faster in normal conditions. The train is basic but functional, we have four beds in our cabin, a lovely snow covered view, a toilet at the end of each carriage, a samovar in each carriage which provides hot water for making tea, making meals, you can even use it to boil some eggs. The ‘Provodnitsa’ -our stern attendant, there are usually 2 to a carriage, one working while the other rests, is in charge of the carriage, and customer service is pretty low on their priorities. They can be pretty fearsome. Their job apart from checking tickets, is to ... read more
The Route
I spy something beginning with S....

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk January 20th 2016

After 4 nights, along 5185km of track and through 3 time zones (now GMT+8), we leave the train to stay in Listvyanka a small town on the bank of the huge Lake Bakail 70km from Irkutsk. Its -28 C when we embark on a walking tour of the town with our guide. Another ‘Lena’ this one is 20 years younger and has a masters in English she gained without leaving Russia. Lena was keen to tell us about the special Lake we were staying beside; Lake Bakail ‘the Pearl of Siberia’, shaped like a banana, 636km long but only 60km wide is world’s deepest lake 1637m containing one-fifth of the world’s fresh unfrozen water. Well it was unfrozen on the day we arrived, but subsequently froze over, so much so people walk and drive cars across ... read more
Frozen Eyelashes
Dog Sled Ride
Lake Bakail

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow January 16th 2016

It was our last full day in Moscow and a planned visit to the Kremlin. Having familiarised ourselves with the Metro it was just 3 stops from our hotel to Teatralnaya Station the closest station to the Kremlin. We walked through Alexander Garden, past the guarded grave of the unknown soldier to the booking office. Well you would think it would seem simple to buy your ticket from the office, however we were sent quarter of a mile to an entrance only to be sent another half a mile in the other direction to check in our backpack. I think we went back to the original office 3 times! A sense of achievement when after several ticket checks we were in, only to be told immediately we were out of bounds by a guard! Our persistence ... read more
Towards Siberia
Entering Kremlin

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow January 15th 2016

Day 1 Gatwick airport at silly o’clock in the morning. Backpacks are in the hold and we’re flying to Moscow on the start of our around the world trip. We had a smooth flight. Arriving at Moscows Domodevo we looked out to see a snow covered landscape. We later discovered that Moscow had previously had a great deal of snow the previous day, causing a lot of flights to be cancelled. We met our driver who was to take us to our hotel, after so much planning, visa applications and packing it was a relief to finally be in our hotel room. We were amazed that in the middle of January the Christmas Holiday season was still in full swing. With Christmas trees, stalls, ice rinks even the television shows were in Christmas mood. This I ... read more
Sunrise over Gatwick
In Moscow at last.
Alison and Len entering the GUM store.

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow December 29th 2015

Mardi 29 décembre 2015 Direction la gare pour notre trajet en train de Saint-Pétersbourg à Moscou. Avec les contrôles de sécurité, on nous a conseillé d'y être 1h à l'avance pour avoir de la marge. Mais une fois sur place, l'attente va nous paraître bien longue car la gare est minuscule! Il n'y a aucun café ou commerce, le hall principal est juste un lieu de passage. Et évidemment, rien n'est écrit en anglais. On devine les mots Quai et Sapsan (nom de la compagnie de trains) en cyrillique d'après les indications sur nos billets et d'après l'heure de départ on se dirige vers le quai numéro 4. Mais avant de pouvoir entrer dans le wagon, une employée vérifie manuellement tous les billets et passeports des passagers. Pour les re vérifier une fois installés à nos ... read more
Cyril et Methodius
Hôtel asymétrique

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg December 25th 2015

Vendredi 25 décembre 2015 Tradition oblige, à l'approche de nouvel-an, nous on s'enfuit ! Et cette année on voulait une destination typiquement hivernale, raison pour laquelle on s'envole pour la Russie ! Et comme on arrive même à prendre toute la semaine de congé, on aura le temps de visiter Saint-Pétersbourg et Moscou. Oui mais voilà, il fallait que je tombe malade le 24... Moi qui ne suis jamais malade, voilà que je vais me traîner un rhume carabiné pendant les vacances, youpie... Le trajet se passe plutôt bien même si on a dû se lever à 4h en ce matin de Noël. On doit malheureusement faire une longue escale à Amsterdam mais on a trouvé une zone de repos dans l'aéroport avec des fauteuils super confortables pour faire la sieste. Arrivés à Saint-Pétersbourg, on avait ... read more
Musée de l'Ermitage
A l'Ermitage
Salle du trône

Europe » Russia » Centre November 3rd 2015

This entry consists of three parts: the story about Vyazma, a couple of sentences and several photos from my hometown Birsk, and a short description of Petersburg’s Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery. I combine them all here for convenience and to make the entry more informative and varied. The central story is about Vyazma, the other two simply add to my previous experiences of two most frequently visited places in my life (Birsk and St. Petersburg). ****************************************************************************** There are several ways to choose the best Russian cities to visit. The first would be to check out the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in Russia, which includes such places as Moscow’s Kremlin, St. Petersburg (its whole centre and lots of places in the environs), Kazan’s Kremlin, Velikiy Novgorod, Suzdal and Vladimir, the wooden churches of Kizhi etc... read more
Vyazma Train Station

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg October 4th 2015

This entry introduces you to four interesting sights in the city of St. Petersburg and its environs: the Pulkovo Observatory Museum, the Sablino cave, the Museum of City Electric Transport and the Museum of Railroad Vehicles. On September 24th I and my wife went on an excursion to the Pulkovo Observatory. I had bought the tickets via an excursion website in advance. The decision to visit the observatory came after we had watched a couple of popular scientific films about the Universe, the Sun, and our planet. Those topics are unbearably interesting and thought-provoking. Individual persons will not be able to visit the museum (not without a guide), I’m afraid. But I think it is possible to do so by paying the full price as for a group. We first went to Moskovskaya metro station and ... read more
Pulkovo Observatory Museum

Europe » Russia September 29th 2015

Since we began travelling in 2013 we have crossed many borders overland, but we were a little more apprehensive than usual as we approached the border between Estonia and Russia. We had no real justification for this other than the bureaucratic process we had been through to obtain our Russian tourist visas, our very poor understanding of the country and possibly having both watched far too many James Bond movies as children. We fully expected a stern man in a grey suit to greet us with the words “ah Ross and Liz, we have been expecting you” whilst stroking a white cat. Needless to say, this did not happen and we were greeted by a pleasant border guard who almost managed a smile, stamped our passports and waved us back to our waiting bus and onwards ... read more
Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Saint Petersburg
Colourful mosaics inside the Resurrection Church in Saint Petersburg
Decorative metro station in Saint Petersburg

Europe » Russia » Centre » Suzdal August 27th 2015

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