Leaving Moscow for the Trans-Siberian Rail Trip

Trip Start Jul 24, 2006
Trip End Jan 07, 2011

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Well, somehow I didn't get back to writing until now and it's already almost time to say goodbye to Moscow. We've been staying in a hotel which was used as accommodation for the junior Olympic games a few years ago, but which has been developed into quite a big complex now. In fact, there are all sorts of facilities and little shops downstairs - including bars and even a spa/sauna building just outside.

Unfortunately, although we're not exactly camping, e.g. sleeping in tents and trailing our backpacks around, we've decided that cafes au lait and visits to interesting places are on the menu but we'll have to wait until we get to India or Thailand to allow ourselves such luxuries as saunas etc. But never fear, I have managed to purchase a new silver bracelet and I'm busy selecting different 'charms' from each place we visit to put on it as a souvenir!

Moscow's a bit more grey and sombre than St Petersburg, and bureaucracy seems to reign all-powerful. This morning, I waited for at least 20 minutes behind a family who were trying to check into the hotel! In the end I just gave up and we went out to visit the centre again. After the Kremlin everything else looks rather tame, although there are quite a few museums etc. Our hotel is situated in the middle of a large 'wood' - but once on the metro it's only about 15 mins to the Centre. I must mention how splendid the Metro stations are - absolutely amazing in fact. They all seem to be constructed with marble walls and incredible art deco-style lights, plus an array of wonderful sculptures. These are often revolution-related but impressive, anyway.

As with the other cities, we've been doing a lot of walking - sometimes by choice and at others simply because we were lost! The language barrier has been brought home quite sharply at times. It certainly reminds me of what some of my ESOL students must have experienced - and at least some of the letters of the alphabit are the same!

Tomorrow we embark on the Trans-Mongolian Railway - we do the same route as the Trans-Siberian at first until Irkutsk, but then turn off towards Mongolia and on to Beijing. The first part of the trip takes 4 days, so I certainly won't be able to update this until we reach either Irkutsk or Ulan Bataar. However, it's more likely to be once we get to Beijing itself. In fact we might have to stay there a little longer than planned, as we didn't sort out our visas for India in the UK, and it takes longer(about 10 working days) as a foreign national. Never mind, I'm sure there'll be all sorts of experiences in store for us. We've booked into the Beijing Jade Youth Hostel - I hope they don't throw us out for reserving under false pretences! Will be in touch soon.....
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