Blogs from Russia, Europe


Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk August 18th 2019

Lake Baikal - Water, water everywhere and most of it to drink! Day 21 to 23 of 80 Irkutsk is a fairly compact city. Thursday and Friday we were able to walk from sight to sight without stretching ourselves too much at all. After our self orientation on Thursday we had booked, for Friday, a free walking tour. We use these quite a lot, and most are very good, but we do get the occasional bummer. Friday's was not one of the best. Our tour guide, Maria, a primary school teacher of special needs children, was doing this - her first season - during the summer break. Her English was OK. .. whilst it was on script. I know, we can't speak Russian, but nor are we getting paid for our Russian language skills. Add to ... read more
130th District repurposed house
A wooden houses problem - fire.
Monument to Firefighters

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 » Siberia » Lake Baikal August 5th 2019

Here are some good reasons to take the train, instead of flying: 1.They're fast. If you think France's TGV trains and the London-Paris Eurostar are the only high-speed rail routes in Europe, you are way behind the times. Europeans have been developing high-speed routes all over the continent for the past few decades. Depending on the route, high-speed trains in Europe travel 125 to 200 mph. Here's a list of the major high-speed networks in Europe. 2. They can even be faster than flying. While jets are still a lot faster than trains, and thus more time-efficient for trips longer than about 600 miles, there are many city-pairs where it's actually faster to take the train when you consider total travel time – i.e., getting to the airport early for heightened security checks; travel time to ... read more
Gare du Nord, Paris
Busy Shinjuku station
Toronto Union station

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 » Volga » Kazan July 20th 2019

Planning this trip I briefly looked at the option of staying on the train all the way from Moscow to Mongolia, until I saw that was like 5 or so solid days on a train! So a combination of reading and time tables led me first to Kazan, a relatively short hop @ 12 hrs east of Moscow, where I arrived to 27 degrees and sunshine, a nice change from the cloud and rain of St Petersberg and Moscow. Another day, another Kremlin Siting on the Volga, Kazan is where Europe and Asia begin to merge in Russia. Historically the area of a Turkic tribe it was incorporated into the Golden Horde (decedents of Genghis Khan) in the 13th century, became an independent Khanate when their power fragmented and was finally conquered by Ivan the Terrible ... read more
Kul Sharif Mosque
Annunciation cathedral
Garden Art

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

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