Now I REALLY need the guidebook

Trip Start Jun 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Russia  ,
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

This blog is all over the place, my sincere apologies. Entries on Croatia and Bosnia Hercegovina and most definitely on their way.

I am killing time in my hostel in Russia. Its located on the eighth floor of a building with loose wires hanging above dusty door tops, an elevator the width of my backpack that shutters and groans with every difficult inch it goes up. I actually quite like the hostel, but I do hope there isnt a fire. Havent seen any fire escapes around.

The reason I am 'killing time' is because I am avoiding the Russian police. Apparently, they are lurking in front of our building waiting to capture unsuspecting travellers who havent got the right stamps in the right place - that would be me. One guy has just come back from bribing a pair of officers for 2,000 rubles. Personally, I cant afford that so I am going to wait until my papers are sorted which should take about an hour.

Moscow is an amazing place, I like it and am terrified by it at the same time. It's amazing to believe that you cant go anyway without all these little bits of paper explaining who you are, where your going. And everywhere, all around the city their are these annonymous men, security men, watching everything that is going on. Security is such a big thing here. There are always policemen and army everywhere you go. Oh but I had to laugh, at the airport they had a sign saying that bringing secret listening devices into Russia was strictly prohibited - there goes my Jennifer Garner Alias action.

But lets talk about Russia, well Moscow, apparently the most expensive city in the world. It is a mark of english-speaking arrogance to assume that everywhere and anywhere there will be some english translation, some english-speaking saviour to guide you through. This is not case in here. Their alphabet consists of backward Bs and 3s and upside down Rs and all sorts of things. It is maybe 1 person in 50 who can speak one word of english and the signs (even the tourist ones) are only in Russian script.

Needless to say, my first afternoon was completely overwhelming. I managed some how guided by a man in black with a giant red rose and a violin case to make it to my first train, I had three more I needed to catch and the process took me 2 hours to find my hostel, which now would only take me 15 minutes.

The railway stations are underground palaces with chandalliers and beautiful mosaics. Escalators that stretch from the heavens to the underground. They go on for miles. It is such a thrill going through these places, crowded with people.

Often the water is either turned off or the their is only cold water. You shouldnt drink the tap water - I found out the hard way. And the streets are littered with artists and souvenier stores.

Tomorrow I am going to the Kremlin, a little apprehensively I must say. I have heard two different accounts of this place. One guy had to pay 3,000 rubles to get in and wasnt allowed without a guide another girl paid only 300 but got yelled at many times by army guys for crossing a street or taking a photo when she shouldnt but there are of course no signs.

Anyway, sorry for this confusing blog just letting my scattered thoughts transfer to the screen. I havent been robbed and it is not scary - not sure where the whole 'scary russia' thing comes from. One thing I am made about is that I have read all my books, hoping that I would be able to buy english ones here (but there are none) and now with 5 days train ride ahead of me I have nothing to read!!!

Hope you are all well. Miss everyone.

All my love


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