From Russia with Love
Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
124Trip End Feb 01, 2012
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Our first experience of Russia was the 27 hour train we took from Berlin to Moscow. We were not quite there yet but from this point onwards we had to mime more than talk and took things for granted at our own peril. We were quite excited to meet our first 'provodnitsas'. Carriage managers who take the upkeep of their coach very seriously.
We boarded at 5pm, quickly established that we could not understand a word our 'provodnitsas' said and settled in for our longest train journey so far. As soon as we got on we were given a pack with our sheets a towel and what we assumed were food vouchers for the train.
Only I found 4 vouchers in mine and just 1 in Paul's - clearly they had forgotten all about Paul's
meals but one. The question was, how the hell would we communicate this to the provodnitsa?
We would soon learn that human beings do not need to speak the same language to communicate
We then went in search of a restaurant cart and we found none. I went up to our providnitsa with rubles in one hand whilst making the international sign for eating with the other. Again I got the dreaded 'nyet'. It soon dawned on us that the only food we had available was a packet of crisps, TUC biscuits and a bottle of wine of course. Just as Paul and I were contemplating getting drunk and calculating how we would ration our Tuc biscuits (we'd eaten the crisps by then) in comes this Russian guy who hands us a couple of boiled eggs, some bread and a packet of biscuits!!! Apparently, word had got round the train that there were two hungry travelers on board. We were so touched by his generosity. It was to be the first of many acts of kindness we'd experience in Russia.
We got into Moscow at 10 in the evening and we had the challenge of getting to our hostel using public transport....if we could find the public transport that is. Luckily a soldier standing guard in front of a building saw our confusion and called us over
Our hostel in Moscow was lovely. It was like staying at someones house. If you're ever in Moscow stay at the DayandNight hostel. Our hosts were very welcoming and made an effort to chat with us, getting us to sample the local soft drink and recommending places for us to go to.
On our first day in Moscow we visited the famous Red Square. We expected a lot and we certainly weren't disappointed. St. Basil's Cathedral is absolutely magical. It immediately shot up to the very top of the list of most beautiful buildings I've ever seen. According to legend, Peter the great - the guy who commissioned the building of the cathedral blinded the poor architect who designed it. He didn't want him creating anything more beautiful than St. Basil's. Selfish git. Paul and I couldn't stop taking pictures of this stunning building and we had to remind ourselves
to leave our cameras to one side and just stand there appreciating this iconic work of art.
Back on the streets of Moscow there was another type of beauty contest going on
On Wednesday (18/08/10) we met an old friend of mine who used to live in Malta but is a native Muscovite. You know who you are Anna! She took us around to bits we probably would not have seen and was an excellent guide. She is also treated us to a great lunch of Pilmeni (please see Karen's first recipe entry!) in one of the hippest places in Moscow. Anna if you ever have a career change, I suggest tour guide! Thank you once again for a great day. After leaving Anna we went for a siesta as the heat was still unbearable, luckily the fog had cleared just days before we got there. In the evening we went to a park on the suggestion of our hostel manager. It is opposite the famous Gorky Park but for us it was much better. Gorky park is mainly an amusement park whereas the park we went to was full of weird art sculptures. It is well worth a visit. To end a great day we went through Red Square at night and it was beautiful as all the buildings were illuminated, St Basil's cathedral was even more stunning
the Ritz-Carlton hotel for a nightcap. We knew it was going to be super expensive as it is
a top hotel but even we could not believe the prices. £10.00 for water! So we got £8.00
double vodka shots instead. The reason for going there was the outside bar at the top of
the hotel. The view is amazing. You are overlooking parts of Red Square and The Kremlin.
It was one of those "must do" moments.
The following day we went on the plushest train ever from Moscow to St Petersburg.
St Petersburg is absolutely stunning....but more on that in our next blog.