Quick impressions written from the Godzilla hostel in Mockba…
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Brighton – Stansted
Woke up WAY TOO EARLY hehehe, nothing exciting (except us) on the trip to Stansted. Easybus worked quite well, good one to know for next time I’m travelling from Stansted. Otherwise… yeah it drizzled so I was quite keen to say f*** ya, England, and good-bye.
Stansted – St Petersburg
Flying was smooth and easy – mental note: Air Berlin, good company, again nice to get some service while flying. Fun to fly a prop plane again :), a nice stopover in D, except that on the way out at customs I first had to get back out of the queue all the way back to drink my cola, then passing through the scanner it went off for no reason, and then the man had to have a look in my backpack to see what these two large metal tins were. Well, cookies, duh! Anyway, that was the biggest worry so nothing much really.
Second leg was even less eventful than the first, we all slept a bit, and then the first impressions of Russia! Glad we have a Russian speaker with us or we might still be at the airport (well not really that bad but it helped so much, so thanks, Ted!), found a 1950 minibus that whisked us into town, and we were quite impressed to have our hostel right in the centre of everything! Ten mins away from the Hermitage, five from the Church of the Spilt Blood (or something). Unfortunately, as it turned out, it was also the most posh part of town so we spent quite some money on food etc. Well, it’s holiday.
St Petersburg was a good introduction to Russia in that it’s still very European, it could be in Italy or France except of course for the Cyrillic everywhere. It;s also one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen, up there with Prague, Florence and Paris.
What you get in post-communist Russia is that some things are very new, some are still old. Like the one night we left St P, we had dinner, nothing too fancy, crepes with cottage cheese, drinks, and ice cream, and paid 1460 RUR the four of us (around 30 EUR), then went to the Metro and paid 40 RUR (less than 1 pound) the four of us to get to the train station. It’s like that.
Of course the first stop next Morning, and words can’t describe this amazing museum. I tried but even my photos won’t. A W E S O M E. It’s such a beautiful building AND such an amazing collection, one on its own would be astonishing, together they are just… indescribable.
Then the rest of St P kept wowing us by being so pretty, we took a boot trip, lol boat trip (i’ll explain that joke but it won’t be as funny as when we saw it ;) ), always nice to explore a city that way. Then we walked all the way around across a series of bridges to the fort where was also a beach (with half naked Russian sprawled over it, yuck :p), then back and we relaxed a bit. Which is really easy when it’s still light at 11PM and 25 degrees with a light breeze….hmmmm
The rest of St P was more like that, we walked loads on the second day and saw theaters and churches, and then went to take our dreaded night train thrid class to Mockba!
St Petersburg – Moscow
Which turned out to be so nice :)! We were sharing the carriage with older couples, an older Russian lady, a young Chinese couple – who were going back after having done China – Thailand – Moskow – St P by train 2nd class and were now going back via Mongolia 3rd class to save some money (I just got an idea for a potential honeymoon, CC :p ;)! ), and families with young children.
We’d bought some classy vodka, 99 RUR (yes that’s just over 2 quid for half a litre), the OJ that we mixed it with was almost more expensive, but it gave us no hangover and when the lights went down at around 11.30 (and outside it was still not dark).
OK we’re about to make a move here… more later, and don’t forget the first batch of photos on Flickr!