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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk March 10th 2019

R: To recap; we were in Irkutsk for a single day. It was raining. We were on a tram into the centre of town. It was pretty drab. Most of the roads appeared partially destroyed, and if not, flooded. Richard and I looked at each other, both wanting to maintain a positivity while each wondering what we would do to spend the day here. We made a bee-line for the bus terminal where Marshrutkas collect. We had decided we wanted to see Lake Baikal - the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world, and is the rift lake where Russia will one day divide. We got to the bus station about 5 minutes before the departure of the next Marshrutka and we quickly found tickets then made it out to the mass of similar looking ... read more
Time for Blinis
Omul Kebab
Irkutsk Wanderings

Europe » Russia » Urals » Yekaterinburg March 9th 2019

R: We awoke to hammering on our compartment door. To prevent anyone getting in at night, the door has a lock on the inside which can't be opened by anyone, even the train staff. I must have been sleeping deeper than I thought as this shook me awake. Not sure what on earth was happening, I sat up, Richard hadn't yet come around. Despite being on the top bunk I managed to get to the door and open it a crack to find the night Provodnitza (who did not speak German) getting a little bit irate and saying a lot of things in Russian which I didn't quite understand. She pushed the door wide open and then I realised the problem - our new bunkmate had arrived, at 2am, from a stop at Yekaterinburg as we ... read more
Just after the Urals - Siberia!
Omsk
Barabinsk Fish Sellers

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Krasnoyarsk March 9th 2019

R: So by now it was Tuesday and we had one more day across Siberia before our first stop in Irkutsk. We had a lie in in the morning, mainly because the cabin was now so hot that it was difficult to move! The scenery had changed by now and there were more scattered villages, small holdings and animals roaming around. It certainly felt more rural. Between us, we had tonnes of information about the route. Richard had brought the Trans-Siberian Handbook, which has incredibly detailed information about the things you would pass. There are little white markers along the track that show your distance from Moscow which help you work out what you are passing. (We were now 4098 km from Moscow). This was quite entertaining, especially when there was nothing else to look at, ... read more
Siberian countryside
Buffet Car feast
Carpets of Orange wild flowers

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow March 4th 2019

R: So armed with reduced baggage (Cate and Clare took our spare clothes etc) and armed with enough Russian supermarket purchases to last a month, we took the metro to Varoslavski Station. Our train was at 23:55 which allowed me only one occasion to think I had lost my passport. Our tickets had been delivered to our hotel so we were ready to go. When the time came to board the train, we headed down to the platform. We were in carriage 1, which was right up the other end of the train. For some reason we rushed, though we knew we had booked spaces. The Provodnitza (carriage attendant) took our tickets and passports and showed us to our cabin. It is a 4 bed room, two bunk beds on either side. You get a box ... read more
The engine (for part 1)
Our compartment on departure
A dull station stop

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow February 21st 2019

R: Friday was all about the transport. You may already know that the Metro system in Moscow is prized as a jewel of the city. The stations are intricately decorated with chandeliers, statues and embossed detail. Lonely Planet had a "Metro tourism" tour, so Cate led us around as we criss crossed the network looking at the finest underground system in the world. After my initial difficulties moving around, we had now found our feet. We headed around through Arbatskaya, to Plotschad Revoluski, Kievskaya to Mayaskaya. Each station had its own specific theme and statues, many of which appeared to be lucky as areas of them were shinier than others where they had been rubbed clean. The Russians have decided to leave the evidence of communist past in the relevant places - there were plenty of ... read more
Moscow Metro Tourism
Lunch at the Kremlin
One of the Kremlin Cathedrals

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow February 17th 2019

R: We began the next day with a breakfast of breaded chicken, which made me ridiculously happy. We took a taxi over to Moscovskiy Vokzal (Moscow Station) for our trip to Moscow. Everything is extremely secure in Russia so to enter the train station we went through airport style security. Though this did at times seem to be a token effort. We wandered through the enormous dark looking station, which was largely filled with nothing, and perused the small selection of shops before heading to the "fancy bit" of the station where the smart Moscow bound trains pull in. To get to this we went through security again. The train itself was very smart - they have recently put in fast trains to Moscow the same as the German ICE trains, and the journey takes about ... read more
St. Basil's by night
Mini Castle. Big Soviet Museum.
Lenin's Mausoleum

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg February 13th 2019

R: So many months ago, I promised I would start blogging our experiences in Russia and on the trans-Siberian railway. It has been several months. If you are still interested, and I have kept you waiting.... I'm sorry. Anyway. I will recreate these memories from notes I took at the time. This trip was a bit different for us, we were travelling as a four. Clare and Richard (Cate's parents) were with us too, the idea being that Richard and I continued on the trans-Siberian, while Clare and Cate came home at the end of half term. Lots of people have asked if Cate was annoyed that we continued on the journey without her. The answer is, no, she did not want to spend 7 days couped up on a train with me or her Dad. ... read more
Open Air Opera festival at the Hermitage
Rolling into town
The extent of the Hermitage

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg February 13th 2019

R: The next day brought spaghetti and sticky pastries on the hotel breakfast. We decided to split up this day, Cate and myself going to look at a royal palace outside of town, while Clare and Richard took a boat trip on the river. Our trip started with a subway journey to Moscovskaya metro station. Most people have heard about the Moscow metro system but I can confirm that parts of the St. Petersburg metro are just as pretty, though maybe not on quite as grand a scale. St. Petersburg, and in specific, the station we got on at, had recently had a terrorist attack just before we visited. There was no sign of this, however the level of policing was fairly high. This turned out to be the norm in Russia, as I will comment ... read more
Palace gardens
Storms Brewing
Big Blue Mosque

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg January 9th 2019

Most of you know we have downsized our lives, moved back to my hometown area, and tried to minimize our lives in many ways. This process of simplifying has made our lives better in many ways. One, is less drama, and two, is fewer obligations and expenses. Along the way, we have benefitted from many suggestions, many of which center on getting rid of things. ... read more
Prioritize!!!!
Go solo if nobody else wants to go.

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg December 21st 2018

On a Baltic cruise, prepare to sample a delightful diversity of cultures and history and bask in the rich natural beauty of the region. You'll enter a tapestry of stories which include the lore of the Vikings, the Hanseatic League, Peter the Great, and Catherine the Great. Discover the lands of Hans Christian Andersen and Alfred Nobel. Cruise highlights can include ports of call in Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia; Tallinn, Estonia; Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; and the breaktaking fjord country of Norway. Visitors to Helsinki, Finland can revel in its cosmopolitan flair as well as its historical past. Finnish cultural touchstones include the Senaatintori, or Senate Square; Temppeliaukion, the Church of the Rock; the Helsinki Cathedral, Tuomiokirkko; Ateneum Art Museum, and the National Museum; the medieval Hame Castle; and the sea fortress of Soumenlinna, built ... read more
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