A Travellerspoint blog

Russia

Vladivostok


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Arrived into Vladivostok in the evening. I walked to my hotel and checked in. After the first shower for 7 days I went to bed. However, sleeping was not easy as the bed was not moving and it was silent. After a week of getting used to sleeping on a train the difference of being back in a normal bed was noticeable.

I spent the next day walking around Vladivostok. It is a very nice city with a good mix of old and new styles. The atmosphere was similar to a large Mediterranean city, but quite cold. I went into a submarine that has been turned into a museum and the city museum which covered the history of both the city and the surrounding area. There is a small funicular railway which I had to ride, cost the outrageous cost of 6 rubles, 6 pence.

I found Vladivostok to be a much more relaxed place than Moscow. Also as it is not a tourist town there were no people trying to sell you things or get you to go into bars etc.

Posted by stephen_dann 20:54 Archived in Russia Tagged vladivostok Comments (0)

Life on the Trans-Siberian train.


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Each day followed the same pattern. Wake up between 7 and 9 local time, get up and eat breakfast. On 4 different nights the train traveled into the next time zone so you would get up at 8 and then find out it was in fact 9. The train stayed on Moscow time for the whole journey and the station clocks also displayed Moscow time. This made things confusing at times when the clocks said it was 2am and it was already mid-morning. After looking out of the window at the countryside for a few hours it was time for lunch. Many hours of looking out the window later time for tea. Later on in the evening I was walk down to the restaurant car and have a cup of tea, just for a change of scene.

Apart from sitting looking out of the window there was nothing else to do. I had books on a kindle and films on a laptop but during the day the view from the window won every time. The whole trip was very relaxing and gave me lots of time to not think about what was happening in the rest of my life outside of the train. The main highlight each day was when there was a 15 - 30 minute stop at a station. Everyone got off and stretched their legs. There were either shops on the platform or people selling goods. Some days I bought rolls, fruit and fruit juice. One thing I did miss was not walking any distance for some exercise.

On the last day the train ran alongside the Chinese border for 30km. most of the time between 30 and 50 meters from the tract but on a couple of occasions we were only 10 meters from the fence.

Posted by stephen_dann 20:50 Archived in Russia Tagged the train on life trans-siberian Comments (0)

Moscow Days 1 & 2


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Moscow day 1

Once I had arrived, phoned home and taken a quick shower, I headed out to explore. I took the metro up to the station close to the Kremlin. After walking across Red Square I walked right around the Kremlin wall. I had hoped to go into Lenin’s mausoleum but it was closed on Fridays so I went into St. Basils Cathedral instead.
As I was standing outside the cathedral the police by the Tower next to me started moving people away from the area in front of me. A cavalcade of cars including both police and army vehicles came up from the direction of the river. In the middle of the cavalcade was a large Mercedes with the flag of the Russian president flying on the front. As the windows were very dark I could not see if it was Putin inside.
After this excitement!! I went into St. Basils. This is the first Russian Orthodox cathedral I have visited and it was interesting to see the differences compared to Catholic churches. As I was tired from the previous few nights lack of sleep I headed back to the hotel for an early night.

Moscow day 2

Today I planned to visit the Kremlin and 2 of the museums next to it. I got to Red Square at 9.00 and spent the first 30 minutes taking photos around the square and on the monument of the unknown soldier. As I was walking back up to the square there was a group of people with communist banners and a large red wreath. Today was the anniversary of the death of Stalin and they were heading to his grave to pay their respects.
At 9.30 I joined the queue to visit the mausoleum when it opened at 10.00, I was the 4th person in the line. At 9.55 another large group of people arrived to pay their respects and the opening time was moved to 10.30. When we were finally allowed in and after passing through a security check I walked alongside the wall and past the various graves of people buried behind the mausoleum. Entering the mausoleum, I descended down a flight of stairs and entered the central chamber. Lenin lies in a glass Sarcophagus facing Red Square. You have to walk through in silence and not stop.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c4/Lenin-mausoleum.jpg

Next I went into the Kremlin and visited the Cathedrals complex. The best 2 were the Assumption and the Archangel’s Cathedrals. The first is where the Tsars were crowned and the latter is where many of them are buried. Just to be inside the Kremlin complex is something I find amazing, when I was growing up during the Cold War, the Kremlin was the place where a real world war could have been authorized and the name alone was a point for mistrust and fear.
After lunch I visited first the 1812 Museum and then the State Museum. Out of the 2 I enjoyed the 1812 more as it is a subject that I find interesting. The displays covered the build up to the invasion, including the Battle of Austerlitz. The State Museum had a vast collection covering much of Russian history.

Posted by stephen_dann 09:35 Archived in Russia Comments (2)

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