55 Moscow-St Petersburg

Trip Start Apr 21, 2013
Trip End Aug 28, 2013

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Flag of Russia  , North-West Russia,
Friday, June 14, 2013

Day 55

14 June 2013


My last day in Moscow. I had decided to visit the " Museum of the Great Patriotic War" In other words “The Second World War”. Slowly you get used to all these sights as I have seen similar museums the world over but, I suppose everyone want to tell their own story to their inhabitants, and perhaps the very fact that these museums do exist may have prevented a few wars. 25 years ago we were on the brink of a nuclear war with the west and the east setting up cruise missiles facing each other.  I was in Holland at that time in 1985/86. The Russians had set up rockets in Eastern Europe and the Europeans and Americans had placed  anti rocket-rockets in Western Europe. In the end luckily nothing happened but a lot of hassles could have started due to say, a technical fault.  At that time I was travelling in both the free Western and the communist Eastern European countries and found out by questioning people on either side  that most people were afraid; not of a someone starting a deliberate  war but a technical problem or fault  could cause a rocket to go off.

The leaders at both sides knew what war was and I think that they wanted to prevent what had happened in WW2 or worse.  I read some interesting words in a book I have been reading during the last few weeks. They Greek praise –singer Pindar, living in around 450 BC was witness to the Greek- Persian wars.  He wrote: “War is sweet to those who have no experience of it. But the experiences man trembles exceedingly in his heart at its approach.” How true this is. If we look at today's state of the world the only person I can see plays with the thought of war is that “New kid on the block” in North Korea as he may be one of the few leaders in world who has not experienced any wars.

I got picked up by the same guy who picked me up from the station when I arrived in Moscow. I greeted him with a “Merhaba arkadas, nasilsin. (hello friend how are you) He immediately responded  in Turkish; it turned out that he spoke Turkish after all. I asked him why he did not talk to me before. He said as he did not know me he did not want to speak he native language. It turned out he came from Uzbekistan and they speak Turkish there and must have been afraid of”something”.

Although Russia is not the former USSR anymore and has moved to a free market economy plus has democratic elections it does not mean that people necessarily can relax and are free as we are in the west. Again as were in the case in Vietnam, as a traveler you can but see the surface and may only find out what lays below it when you make connection with a local who thrust you. What he was afraid off… I don’t know.  

At arrival at my point of departure I faced three separate stations next to each other and one across the road. I was going to St Petersburg (formerly known as Leningrad) and needed to find the entrance to Leningradski station. Unlike my driver in Mongolia, who delivered me all the way the train door, my current driver had just dropped me off and had pointed in the general direction.

While waiting, several trains pulled in and out of the station, (this was a terminal station) Interestingly  that they play a “Moscow” song every time a train arrived or departed

. At 9.30 pm we got going. I shared my compartment with two Russian guys of about 25-30 years old. One of them  did not say anything and just climbed into his bunk and went to sleep. The other one did not say anything either until I started a conversation. Interesting that often if I ask if someone speaks English they see “No” and then they continue to talk in English. So we shared a few stories and our pictures on the laptop and his phone and drank coffee together. Russians are a bit reserved so the best way to deal with that is to take the initiative to start a conversation.

The train windows have  heavy blinds to make the compartment dark ,as sunset is a 11 pm and sunrise at 3.30. As I was moving north this would change to 24 hours of light.
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