We have now officially left Europe (for 11 months)

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Flag of Russian Federation  ,
Monday, January 30, 2006

(Em here)
We are getting our internet hit while we can as we don't know when it will happen next here!

Yesterday we did a city guided tour with an English speaking guide which was very interesting - saw where the city was founded, old mint, main square etc. Most interesting things about here are:

- Is the border between Europe and Asia (see photo of where we went today)
- Is where Boris Yeltsin came from and started his political career
- Is where the Romanovs (Russian monarchy/tsars) were in exile and later killed during the revolution in 1918. Most things here have some Romanovian significance which is actually quite fascinating (for me anyway!) Went yesterday to a new cathedral which was built on the site they were living in when in exile and they were later all killed (11 of them including 4 servants) in the cellar. Today we went to the Monastery/churches that have been built in the last 3 years on the site that their remains were found and then buried in St Petersburg in 1998 (lots of history in the middle that I wont bore you with now)

It was also really good to be able to pick someones brains about Russian life now compared to the Soviet days e.g. average pension, wage....

Went shopping in the centre which again was not what I was expecting. There is a Mango here (women's clothes shop) which really shocked me - not what I thought would be in Siberia! However, we then went into a couple of department stores which were literally like Grace Brothers in 'Are you Being Served?'

Last night we continued with our hardcore image and went to the ballet again. Dave is still in shock - he had never been before in his life and has now been twice in a week. I suspect it wont happen again for another 30 years. We went to see Romeo and Juliet which was a lot more expensive 400 R (4 quid each) it was excellent.

We are now looking forward to getting the train at 3am tomorrow morning for the next 2.5 days to Irkutsk. Don't expect any updates for a while (although there was a tv and video on our last train so who knows??
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