Kaliningrad, Russia 2

Trip Start Jun 08, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wednesday 30 August
Up early as Marie from Baltma tours was picking me up at 9, now all watches and alarm clocks are on correct time. Went for breakfast in adjoining cafe and went on a very interesting tour of Balatiysk home to the Russian Baltic fleet in only Russian military and commercial ice free port. I had to get permission from new KGB to get in and then I cant take pictures of any military objects. Ive only been asked 10 times if I'm a spy for going on this tour. The place was an old German holiday resort so you get some old German architecture but the Russians turned it into a military zone and banned all foreigners and non military Russians. Caught a ferry to the spit, went into Russian Orthodox church - very spartan, found a Baltic fleet museum, with an anti Chechnya area, she told me one of the terrorists was living in London - I apologised. Took a few illegal photos and I asked if she could take me to the biggest Amber mine in the world on a side tour but the driver said the roads were bad so he didn't get a tip at the end of the trip like the guide did. Got them to drop me off at fort 5 of 15 on the outskirts of Kaliningrad. They were were the 1st line of defence built late 18c but then used by Nazis, the Koenigsberg general called them mousetraps as they were so hard to take. The Russians only took 1 (fort 5) and waited for the surrender of German forces to take the rest. I went for a climb, but it had been raining so I slid 3 meters backwards ended up landing on my back on my rucksack, nearly ended up in moat - very muddy coat and rucksack. Went up a less steep part, but as was so overgrown and wet I got absolutely soaked, so went and caught bus looking a right state. Pointed to a map for the place I wanted to go and conductor very helpful and showed me a passenger getting off at same stop. Great but obviously couldn't read map as I was about 2k from South station. Decided to walk, brought my ticket for Gdansk and waited for train to open. Lots of dodgy characters one of which asked me to take some fags over border. Painfully slow train to border crossing, on the sweep through train customs lady missed me when collecting passports so followed her down train and tried to give her my passport - she shouted at me in Russian so I shouted back shaking my head - seemed to work. All went smoothly but then on the Polish side customs found some cigarettes hidden behind grill so they took the whole train apart. Every screw was undone, thankfully there were only 3 carriages. This made the train 30m late which turned into an hour by the time we reached Gdansk at 10pm. Went to my usual hostel but was closed, and Id removed the pages from my book, so went to main square where I thought there was one - couldn't find it so went to posh hotel who told me Gdansk was fully booked as he'd phoned around already and to try Sopot. Got on the local 1120 train and caught by ticket inspectors for a 10 quid fine for a 50p journey. Already canceled the night out with Madzik, but I phoned her up to see if she knew and hotels - no answer. Started wandering round Sopot station and as luck would have it found a map with hotel listed so found excellent pension with 100 year old door with viewing hatch, 20 quid a night but I was desperate. After that epic wanted a little drink so found I was nearby Justavs where Id been with Madzik. They closed in 30m so got 2 pints down me and to bed.
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