I wasn't going to keep the RR going while we backpack but this has sort of become our personal travel blog made all the better with everybodies comments so hope it's ok. We promise there are photos of motorbikes in it
As soon as we farewelled the bike at the freight company we bee lined it to the station to catch the Trans-Siberian, our home for the next four and a half days
The Trans-Siberian comes in 3 classes:-
- 3rd class for the peasants which has bodies everywhere and not much privacy. I imagined a wild four days of vodka shots and cards, but after four days it would get on the nose a bit;
- 2nd class which has four beds to a cabin and some degree of privacy. If you're lucky enough to get some good roomies it could be really fun. It's half the price of first class but double the price of third class; and
- 1st class for the Soviet elite too scared to fly with Russian airlines. Expensive and boring.
We went with second class and hoped for some cool roomies.
One of our roomies got on the train in Irkutsk with us - a very well-spoken, well-educated lady who has seen her fair share of life in the USSR. The other guy was in his early twenties who we think was avoiding us because we only ever saw him when he went to bed. We exchanged pleasantries and found out she was an English teacher and her husband (now deceased) a former biology researcher. I conjured tales of espionage and chemical weapons in service for the Red Army during the Cold War...they may or may not have; I was too scared to ask.
We quickly discovered there were no showers on board and the only free space was in the corridors. There would be no wild parties. Patty wanted off.
Throughout the trip the train stops at stations for an extended length of time and itís possible to get off and stock up from little vendors beside the track for a pittance.
Four days on a train sounds like a looooong time but it goes surprisingly fast. We got into a new TV series (Entourage) and finished two seasons and the rest of the time we spent staring out the window at the landscape thinking about life.
One of our roomies had bit of a continence problem so by day two we were covering our noses and opening the window to let the cold air blow the formidable odour away when they moved their sheets. I told Patty to wash but she wouldn't
I recommend everyone try the Trans-Siberian at least once in their life, if possible during the winter when Russia becomes a winter wonderland. We met this guy on the last afternoon and he was cool.
In advance we organised a couchsurf in Moscow but as we arrived very early morning we had the whole day up our sleeves before we could meet our host and drop our stuff off, so we left it in baggage storage at the station.
How fresh could ďfreshĒ burgers from a vending machine be? We didnít try one but I wish we did.
Easiest way to learn the alphabet - take a familiar word and translate.
Are they magic?
St. Basils Cathedral
State Historic Museum. Best collection of early human culture, tools and weapons Iíve ever seen. Each room showed how weapons and tools became more and more sophisticated through the ages, from using rocks to smash bone to the musket. The descriptions were all in Russian but you can tell by the implements and arts which age it came from.
Fishing hooks made from bone
Shrek and bugs bunny harassed two asian girls for money for taking a photo of them. We told them to fuck off when they came near us.
People stand in the middle and throw a coin over their shoulder and try land it on one of the four quadrants. The lady was collecting the coins they threw, but only if they were big coins.
Later that night we met our host Yuri, his wife Sveta and their son Maksim.
The next day we went to the Tretyakov Gallery with Yuri. It was mostly self-portraits which neither of us find interesting but there were some interesting pieces, like art of places weíve visited like Rome and Venice. Back in the 1800's photo's didn't exist so the art gave us some insight into how it looked back then. There were also some religious art from the tenth century which was interesting to see although we arenít religious people.
Looks like a photo
We met Sveta and Maksim around lunch time to go to the Natural History Museum. This was my idea, not Maksimís. I love this sort of thing.
I didn't know mammals got this big?!
Imagine that scorpion getting in your tent.
I thought it was better than the Natural History Museum in London because it had more than just the stuff kids want to see like T-Rex and Triceratops. This one had all the less known stuff and showed that life was more diverse than Jurassic Park.
That night we attempted to make some aussie burgers for the family but they turned out poo because we didnít have any pineapple or beetroot.
The next day we visited the Kremlin with the family.
Outside the State Historical Museum.
Inside the Kremlin there are a bunch of museums and churches.
Maksim my best mate
After the Kremlin we were left to wander the city. Everything is within a short walking distance on wide open streets or the metro if we felt lazy
Early the next morning we boarded the train to St Petersburg...luckily. We checked our tickets the day before and the lady in Irkutsk booked us tickets to another 'burg not St Petersburg. We changed them for a small fee and saved us some money in the process.
3rd class. You can't drop a fart without the whole cabin knowing...
In St Petersburg we arranged another couchsurf with a guy named Kirill who met us at the station and walked us to his house, a funky place in the centre of town.
We instantly felt at home in St Petersburg. It was like a mixture of all the fun cities in Europe. A bit of Amsterdam thrown in with the graffiti and funk of Berlin but the sophistication of Paris, London and Barcelona. It's a really cool city and somewhere we could stay a long time...maybe not during the winter though
Fire = warmth
Some asian tourists were rubbing their hands on this guy. I guess little head big body brings good luck
Throughout the day we were dodging shower after shower
Steal this car?
That night we went out with Kirill to a local bar to catch up on internet and play foosbol, or kicker as the Russians call it. Kicker makes so much more sense
The next night we boarded a bus to Riga. Exiting Russia I thought we would be asked about the bike but we weren't nor were we asked about registering in hotels which we didn't do along the way. Goodbye Russia and thanks for the memories.