Parting thoughts on Moscow and hello warm Riga

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
Trip End Sep 01, 2007

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

I took a city tour on my last day in Moscow and Im really glad I did / there is so much more to the city than one can see on foot. So many expensive condos, Arbat street whosed Casinos rival Las Vegas, the guide pointed out the armour plated BMW SUVs belonging to... women especially are dressed in the latest fashions, complete with stiletto boots and I don't know how they walk in them, let alone navigate the sidewalks, cobbled streets and metro. Speaking of the Metro, I got to really like it at the end, it is the most beautiful in the world I hear / wide hallways, high vaulted celings, beautiful chandeliers, mosiac windows, Italian type tiles, etc. very well kept, clean but again deep, steep escalators but interestingly not as crowded, it appeared as St. Petersburg. In my very frantic running out of time from a late ending city tour as there is never ending traffic / I found out that people have staggered working hours, starting from about 6 a.m. and continuing every half hour for I don't know how long but resulting in a day long traffic jam. 4 million people living outside Moscow either tourists or other Russians visit this city of 12 million every day adding to the congestion. OK so my last day I had an internet ticket, booked for me by the Godzilla's hostel staff, in a berth on the night train from Moscow to Riga but I had to go to the Komo... train station to pick it up and then go to my hostel to get my bags and then to another train station/ sounded like Gretsky station to me / to leave for Riga. This is all on the Metro, complete with line changes for each trip. I left the tour at 5.30 p.m., my train was at 9 p.m. and I had to accomplish all this, with limited knowledge of where the stations were located. The train stations are not connected to the Metro as they are in many other places, I found in Russia they can be outside through a maze of kiosks, or across the street. Anyway all was accomplished, in the rain and the dark, with an hour to spare. I was fortunate enough to have a four person cabin to myself! on the train for the 15 hour ride which was a real luxury. Very soothing, riding the train during the night. Woken up several times for baggage check, customs check by both Russian and Latvian customs. I had all my papers in order, complete with visit registration so all was well. I slept a bit so felt ok when I arrived here about 1>45 p.m. It felt really damp cold in Russia / ok sounds wimpy and I don.t forget Yellowknife weather this time of year but it was a ,damp cold!!, about 5 and rainy and so windy during the day and I was so glad to get into warmer weather here in Riga, a beautiful spot, complete with UNESCO protected,art nouveau buildings, Old Town, etc. right on the water. Had city tour today. I had booked a hostel but had the wrong address and fortunately I visited a tourist info office when I got off the train and found out it was wrong, but got a map and walked to the Central Hostel, hidden in a back alley but a new hostel, clean and not so busy and hectic as Moscows.
For the record, I stayed at the Hotel Europa in Frankfurt, Sunflower Hostel in Berlin, Marine, Beata and Old House hostels in Tallin, Yards of Capella Hotel and St PEtersburg Hostel in St Petersburg, Godzillas hostel in Moscow and am in the Central Hostel in Riga. Don'w know how long I'll stay, am booked for 3 nights and may go to Poland then and onto CZech Republic or vice versa. I got a few things to eat tonight at .Stockmann.s store, which has a grocery to rival any I've seen ever, complete with an amazing deli. According to the guide book, the average Latvian earns 300 lats a month, about 750 dollars, hard to believe they can live on it as the prices here °just a little less than in Canada. I also tour the Occupation Museum today, hard to believe what they have gone through here, and also visited the History Museum and listened to a classical pianist practicing on a grand piano for a concert in the beautiful Museum. Museum visitors were invited to sit down to listen and it was a magical experience.
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