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Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg July 20th 2017

A 10.30 am pick up today for a trip to Pushkin, 29km south of St Petersburg and named after Alexander Pushkin, the Russian poet, playwright and novelist who died in 1837 and who credited with being the founder of modern Russian literature. The Captain's Daughter, The Bronze Horseman and The Queen of Spades are some of his novels. Our tour of the enormous and lavishly decorated Catherine the Great’s Summer Palace and the superbly kept French style park was yet another delight.What a chequered history of plunder, fire, warfare and rebuilding. The original building started in 1717 with restoration and renovation a never ending battle including ongoing reinstatement post the most recent ruination and plundering during WWII occupation by the Germans and the bombing that ended the occupation. Ahead of the occupation, valiant efforts by those ... read more
The grand entrance gates
Another enormous complex
One of the baths??

Europe » Russia July 18th 2017

Our morning started with a 6:15am taxi to Irkutsk train station. The driver appeared to be slightly worse for wear from a few Sunday vodkas and blasted the music up to keep himself awake. On our train appears to be second class within second class. Our cabin no doubt was top of the range in 1950. Going from one carriage to another is quite a challenge, not a move I would recommend to an 80 year old Indiana Jones in his next movie. Communication with the waitress in the dining carriage has proven another challenge with you unsure what you ordered and what you get. They have ran out of potatoes and rumours are flying that potatoes are selling for 1000 rubles per spud. Speaking of rubles I believe I have lost 200 rubles which is ... read more

Europe » Russia July 16th 2017

The Gentleman's Room In the Gum shopping centre in Moscow are what's known as 'the gentleman's room’s, it is not what you may think it is an there is also a ‘ladies room’, for 150 rubles one can conduct the human depository tasks in absolute luxury, and if I may quote the Cranberries, you are inclined to let it linger. Along the shore of lake Baikal too are ladies and gentlemens rooms accept as not a high a standard. For 20 rubles, you can experience a Russian portaloo with the mission of get out as quickly as you can. I am not surprised this has not made trip advisor. Lake Baikal Along the lake for 100 rubles you can rent a table with roof covering, after 4 days train travel this was a nice way to ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow July 10th 2017

I usually stay away from danger, at least obvious danger. For instance, I would like to visit Turkey this fall, but everyone, including the US State Department, says to stay away. But these countries and places below are rather surprising to me, since I have been there. Thailand (southern) Yes, the south of Thailand is known to harbor terrorists, with a large Muslim population. Well, we have terrorists in San Bernardino too. I have been to Thailand about 6 or 8 times, and have always felt welcomed and safe. The Thai people are friendly and know how important the American tourist is to their economy. Bangkok makes the ideal base for travel throughout SE Asia. South Africa Thanks to Barry the V, and Mrs. V, we had a great two weeks in Cape Town. However, we ... read more
Ordinance found in Laos
Changing of the guard in East Berlin, 1971
Ta Prohm, Cambodia

Europe » Russia July 10th 2017

St Petersburg was not named after Peter the Great but after St Peter one of the 12 apostles. Many people told us you need at least 5 days in st Petersburg and I have to agree. So much to see and do. One place we went was the Hermitage museum and I would strongly recommend it. It is former winter home of the noble class. Inside are rooms which display the pomp and excess of the noble class at the time. Also inside are Russian and European artwork as well as some Egyptian mummy stuff. I am beginning to wonder is any Egyptian mummy stuff left in Egypt. We quickly completed the hermitage in 3 hours. Next was a bus tour of the city. This was to be a 2 hour tour, intended to teach us ... read more

Europe » Russia July 10th 2017

For any of you considering traveling to Russia for the world cup, if you are, to do the trek from St Petersburg to Moscow, there is only one way to do it and that is by the high speed Cancah train service. It can do 250km per hour and travels from St Petersburg to Moscow in 4 hours a distance of 800km. This is equivalent of traveling from the most southern tip of Ireland to the most Northern, realising you forgot to turn the emersion off and going back to turn it off. Its now day 3 in Russia and at this stage I should have moved beyond the world for thank you which is prenounced as Spasiba. I have gone from saying gazibo, pasiba, pasibo to just giving up. Not sure I can take much ... read more

Europe » Russia July 9th 2017

The morning started getting the speedy Allegra express train from Helsinki to St Petersburg, the train took about 3 hours and reached a whopping 220k per hour. My attempts of a snooze were interrupted twice be customs on both sides of the border. Our B&B host advised us of a good all you could eat. I made the big mistake of nodding in agreement with a staff member who was telling me in Russian how it worked. In the end it was obvious I hadn't a clue and it's fair to say they were laughing at and not with us 😎. We took a nice stroll exploring the architecture of the city and realised we need a bus tour because we don't know the full history. We do know it was built by Peter the Great ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg July 8th 2017

We were in port for two days and only saw a small part of what St Petersburg had to offer. We did not have VISAs so were on a tour through SPB. Our tour guide was excellent and coincidentally, an art history major who was most enthusiastic about living in St Petersburg. She was extremely knowlegable about the history, architecture and art - decorative and paintings. I find that with tours the guide can make or break the trip so we were thankful to have lucked out. Our group was also small..... only 8 of us and mostly mobile. Our first day started with a bit of a tour around the canals of St Petersburg. The buildings along the main river look exactly as they do in the paintings I have seen of St Petersburg. We ... read more
Faberge Egg
Cigarrette Case

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow June 13th 2017

I did not write much about the famous Moscow Metro. I rode it several times when I visited Moscow in 2014. Here is more information about it, if you are interested. One thing for sure, Russian engineering is outstanding, as you will read. Moscow's metro is one of the busiest and most visually stunning underground systems in the world. Created as a showcase for the Soviet Union, its elaborate, spacious stations are adorned with mosaics, marble statues and stained glass that tell the story of the communist state. When it opened in 1935, the metro had just 11 stations and attracted 285,000 curious riders on the first day. Today there are 206 stations and up to nine million passengers a day. The stations were designed by various architects, reflecting different styles, going from art deco ... read more
Russian engineering is great!!!
And the stations are quite artistic!
I touched the dog's nose too!!!!

Europe » Russia June 5th 2017

Geo: 59.7156, 30.3948After a leisurely start we had an hour tour of the Faberge Museum. Then a 45 min drive to the re-named Pushkin Palace, home of the fabled Amber Room. This Summer Palace was built by Catherine I and vastly extended by her successors. Before the revolution Nicholas and Alexandra tried to shield their haemophiliac son from the public, and actually lived in the Summer Palace year-round for several years. And they were imprisoned there for a while after the revolution.Then a very fine lunch, a canal cruise in the rain and home to our hotel. The 14 in our group have bonded quite strongly over our travels, and we organised a very jolly evening farewell get-together at a local pub/restaurant, followed by a nightcap at the lobby bar.... read more
Pink Serpent Egg
Catherine I Summer Palace

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