12.08.2006 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!!