A Travellerspoint blog

Moscow

Moscow Fugitives!!

sunny 26 °C

One of the best things about staying in hostels is meeting new people and finding out about places they have visited. I have lost count of how many travel tips i've picked up, other travellers are a much better source of info than the travel guides you can buy in my opinion. We got to know a few people in Godzilla's hostel in Moscow and when we returned from Gorky Park we stayed in the kitchen drinking with a mad dutch guy, a couple of Aussies and a couple of nice girls from Berkshire. You all know who you are if you're reading this! The following morning we were hassled by some Russian cops who came and knocked on our door in the hostel. They wanted to check our passports and visa's, unfortunately we didn't have our visas at the time. The manager of the hostel had organised to register our visa's for us (at a hefty price of 600 roubles!) but had not given us them back. After a little mincing with our passports they returned them to us and we were told to report to their office the following day or they would come back to the hostel. After speaking with the manager, who gave us our visa's, he told us not to bother going to their office and that they were probably just looking for a bribe, which he would take care of! He advised us not to be in the hostel the following day should they return so we spent the day on the run from the cops!!
We were due to check out that day so we left our bags and went to check out Red Square and Moscow Zoo with the 2 Berks girls which was a lot of fun. We picked up our bags later that day and jumped in a beat-up lada and headed for the train station. Our driver could've taught Michael Schumacher a thing or two about driving as he swerved in and out of the traffic!! He was so good we tipped him 50 roubles! I'm sure he was fully licenced and comprehensively insured! Upon discovering we were at the wrong part of the station to catch the Trans-Mongolian we had a frantic search for our train which eventually we found. We had left plenty of time to buy provisions but this was seriously compromised by our earlier oversight and we only managed to buy some measly supplies. Nowhere near the station sold vodka, much to our disappointment! The Russians are definately missing a trick there, they have a long way to go in embracing the free-market economy and are not very enterprising! With only a few minutes to spare we ran to our carriage, which was right at the front of the train, and boarded just in time - not a train you want to miss since they are pretty much fully booked a long time in advance! Besides, Moscow is definately somewhere i would not want to spend anymore time in! We had a good experience and a lot of laughs but we had had our fill of poor service, poor food and Russian cops!! Avanti!!

Posted by worldwideG 22:55 Archived in Russia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

St. Petersburg & Moscow

"More is Better!!!"

So when we returned from a stroll around town and a couple of beers to wash our lunch down we returned to our hostel to be greeted by a lovely group of Slovenians. On their request to join them drinking in their room we gladly tucked into the bottles of vodka being banded around. At the cry of "more is better" i began chugging away whenever it was my turn, in between downing shots of the glass in my hand. I did note that others were not quite so enthusiastic when it was their turn to drink from the bottle but figured this could not go on long. 12 hrs later when i awoke, with one of the worst hangovers on record, i found that i had missed the night out and realised my mistake that more is often not better when it comes to drinking vodka!! Ah well, live and learn. We did manage to visit the Hermitage on the morning we were due to leave for Moscow but only saw it from the outside. It is a beautiful building and i later discovered, from someone who had not ruined themselves drinking excessive amounts of vodka, that within those great walls is some of the most beautiful pieces of art and antiques in the world. It was from this point i became determined never to let a great night drinking get in the way of seeing what my destinations have to offer! We had a good walk from the Hermitage to the train station and stopped off for a photo opportunity at a typically Russian cathedral - it was stunning. Caught the train with no problems and enjoyed a few drinks in the company of a lovely Russian family. The journey lasted 8 hrs and we arrived in Moscow at 9.00 p.m. only slightly worse for wear after the beer and 2 bottles of JD we had consumed with the Russians!
After a good hr or so of struggling to get to grips with the Metro system and asking a few beautiful girls for assistance we found our hostel and were pleased to find it an area not resembling Beirut, unlike our first hostel! After a good night's sleep we awoke to find that Andy had lost his mp3 player on the train - gutted! We returned to the train station and after a long hard search reached lost property but our search was fruitless as no-one had handed it in. Had an early start to visit the Kremlin where we had a tour of the 15th century Cathedrals. We were treated to a choir performance in one by a group of monks - they were superb. It was a beautiful sunny day and we had a long walk down to Gorky Park which is an old school theme park. We had a well deserved beer and set back to our hostel by Metro which we had now got to grips with!

Posted by worldwideG 04:38 Archived in Russia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

St. Petersburg

In search of Nevsky Prospekt!

sunny 28 °C

We (Andy and myself) arrived in St. Petersburg by train from Helsinki on Thursday 13th July. We had a very pleasant 5 hr train ride through some beautiful Finish countryside. Getting into the station at St. Petersburg we were confronted by vast communal housing projects, some passengers seemed to be aghast by this but i fear we will see far worse poverty on our travels. After a fruitless 2 hr search for our hostel we succombed and jumped in a taxi. When we reached the hostel we were pretty shocked to find it situated in something resembling Beirut!!
Having climbed the 2 flights of decaying concrete stairs we were welcomed by tim, nice but dim, who showed us to our very basic twin room. After showering we hit St. Petersburg and jumped on a 180 mini bus which cost the equivilent of 30p. We had a very nice meal and a couple of beers then set out to find Nevsky Prospekt where we were told the best bars were located. Another fruitless search led us to an Irish bar called the Shamrock where we enjoed another couple of beers and some traditional Irish folk music. We set out again and jumped in a taxi to Nevsky Prospekt and went to a club called Tribunal (opposite Peter the Great statue) where some lovely ladies were dancing in lingerie. Got talking to a couple of stunning Russian girls and did a little dancing!! Got lost again on our way home as the taxi driver didn't know where our hovel was located - got home tired and a little wet (it started raining!) at 6 a.m.
After a rough night's sleep with the hostels horrible little cat biting my feet, until i managed to wedge our door shut (there was no lock on our door), we returned to the statue of Peter the Great for a photo opportunity. Seems to be a special place for newly wed couples to go as we saw 4 couples of brides and grooms having photo's taken. That was about as much sightseeing we did in St. Petersburg - more on that later!!!

Posted by worldwideG 22:15 Archived in Russia Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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