Trip Start Aug 15, 2012
17Trip End Sep 12, 2012
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I am convinced that God has foresaken the western countries (who have anyway forsaken God and are more wrapped up in the new environmental religion) and has taken up residence in Russia. Russia is the new Byzantium - latter day successor to Rome, and defender of the faith. Of that there can be no doubt - they are building new chruches and restoring the old ones here. And it's not like South America where the churches are filled with shabbily-dressed peasants - the churches here are filled with the well dressed. Religion is on a roll here in Russia.
We pick up our local guide here and begin the tour
When the tour is finished, we trek back onto the bus for the drive back to Moscow to catch the train. Our guide is concerned about the traffic, and we leave a half-hour or so early to make sure that we are there on time. This is a wise decision as the traffic is chronic - it is only 50kms or so, but it takes us well over an hour to punch through the traffic.
As it turns out, we arrive in plenty of time, join the queue to pass through security, and finally get to our reserved seats on the Moderately Fast Train. Our Moscow guide bids us farewell, and she departs to pick up her next tour group this evening at 7PM.
The train service is interesting - the rolling stock is all quite new, but runs over a mix of old and new tracks. Depending on which section we are on, the speed gets as high as 300km/hr, mostly drops back to about 240km/hr, and occasionally drops down to a crawl. Overall, it does the 650km in four and a half hours
Lunch is served shortly after we leave Moscow - we get a choice of red or white wine, and a three course meal. And it is served with real crockery and cutlery, which you don't get on airlines these days. Also, the train has WiFi, but they obviously turn it off when we approach the intermediate stops. It seems that the new breed of economic rationalists have covered all the bases here.
Our new guide meets us at the station at St Petersburg, and accompanies us to our hotel, the Angleterre. It is an old building, the rooms are comfortable, but it could probably use a bit of an update. Especially the carpets.
We have a chance to unpack our stuff, then our guide accompanies us to a local restaurant - where again, we have the three courses served in assembly-line fashion, plus a glass of red wine. The red wine is served chilled, and I am now convinced that it would be wise to stick with the vodka - which is generally excellent and reasonably priced.