From Russia with love... and a wee bit of fear

Trip Start Sep 02, 2009
Trip End Oct 30, 2010

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Flag of Russia  , Moscow,
Sunday, September 27, 2009

After a relaxing time in Budapest it was finally time for us to head to Russia.

After numerous conversations with different people about our next destination (thanks Becca's Dave!), our fear of Moscow was gradually growing, and although we had a two day journey to adjust, we were feeling really anxious. We stocked up on what we thought would be enough food for the journey and headed off to the station in excited anticipation of what would be our first experience of a sleeper train.

We had gotten onto the train and were finding it hard assessing who's cabin was who's ( the only tickets left were separate male and female compartments and having tickets in Russian made it harder to work out which was compartment was male only and which was female only). Finally we worked it out and Amy had a cabin all to herself, in which she soon cosied up inside.
I however was joined by two Turkmenistan brothers who insisted on showing me copious amounts of pictures of them traveling and their hometown and family.

The cabins were very cramped with 3 bunks all on top of each other, with 1 sink and about enough space for one person to stand up. At first I was very jealous of Amy for having a cabin all to herself but little did she know she had a roommate only a few stops away... whilst I enjoyed the company of two very friendly and good humored Turkmenistan brothers complete with their own library of pirated Russian blockbusters (though not in English).

Just as Amy settled down ready for a good nights sleep she was joined by a disgruntled old Romanian woman and her pride and joy grandson... and then a few stops later by a young Russian lady.So whilst I enjoyed the extreme generousity of the two brothers ( at one point even offering me money which I politely declined), Amy was sandwhiched between a Russian lady, a noisy child and a space hoarding elderly Romanian woman ( who gave Amy her shoes every time she even looked like she might leave the room... which made her feel like she had to leave the room). Needless to say Amy spent most of her free time in the party cabin ( my room).

The journey was long and uncomftable, and we had very little sleep mainly due to rigorous customs checks by very stern and mean looking customs officers... and we ate all the food on the first night so when we got to Moscow two days later we were starving!!

Arriving in Moscow we felt a combination of relief and fear as we had no idea where an ATM was and what any of the signs meant. After half an hour of walking around the station we finally found an ATM and bought a highly nutricious breakfast of a Coke and Snickers. It was cold but we liked that because it reminded us of home.

We found the hostel fairly easily after braving the confusing and frustrating Moscow subway system. We had no idea how to get into the hostel so Amy rang the lady who ran the place and she came down to meet us. She didn't speak much English and the hostel appeared to be the womans house...

We had a quick shower and asked the lady where to get some nice food. She explained about the delicious Ukrainian restarant just around the corner. We went to Pizza Hut.

During the hour or so we spent in Pizza Hut we gorged on the following; garlic bread with cheese, unlimited salad bar, large deep pan vegetarian pizza and a pitcher of mountain dew. We felt so sick but we had a decision to make: sleep or go sightseeing. We felt too sick to lie down so sightseeing it was. A short walk later we were surprised to find ourselves at the Kremlin surrounded by Lenin's Tomb and St Basil's Cathedral. The bleak weather seemed to compliment the Russian scenery and whilst we didn't enter any of the buildings we got some great pictures and a good idea of what we wanted to do the next day.

The next day was a day that we had dreaded but also looked forward to. It was the day for us pick up our Trans Siberian Rail tickets! We caught the metro to the outskirts of Moscow and with very limited directions tried to find the Red Horse Travel Agency. About an hour later we found ourselfs at the bottom of a dirt track near a railway line and a delapidated industrial area... we were lost. We had lost all hope of finding the place, I think Amy even considered giving up for the day as she was in no mood to be trifled with. We retraced our steps and wandered aimlessly down our previously chosen dead end when, looking like obvious tourists with our maps out and scratching our heads, probably one of the only English speaking Russians came up to us asking for directions to the same place! We banded together ( by that I mean she went off and asked people in Russian where it was and we just followed) and eventually found the place.

Happy in the fact that we had our tickets we had other business to attend to (aka our 7 day food supply for the journey and also we a means to cure the possible chronic boredom we could face ahead). This time we bought tons of food and Amy bought some Arts and crafts.

Tired and hungry we went back to the hostel to cook some food and prepare our rucksacks for the exciting journey ahead. Amy took everything out of my backpack and filled it with food, needless to say it was the heaviest of the two backpacks.

On our final day we wanted to get some proper sightseeing done so we headed straight to St Basil's Cathedral. It was very interesting to learn the history of St Basil and also it was interesting to learn that it's not just one church but has several different churches inside. We also went to the Kremlin but only had time to look at the cathedrals and the grounds as our train was leaving that evening.

After a satisfying day of sightseeing and some light shopping for more supplies we prepared ourselves for six days we where about to spend on a train...

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aph6 on

From York with love!
Dear both,

Glad to hear you were both OK, despite a few challenges. Story was a good read (well done Dave!) and the adventures continue, as well as the learning curve!

Everyone here is OK and sends their love.

We'll drop you an e-mail.


The Yorkies xxx

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