Greetings from Russia.
So we’re nearly a week into our awesome adventure and already we have encountered many interesting folks and seen many sites. First stop was Helsinki, Finland, we only had the afternoon to sample Scandinavia but we tried the local delicacies before making our way to into Russia. Finland gave us a false sense of security; arriving in St Petersberg was almost terrifying, especially navigating the crowds in our very large backpacks…! Being this far north has really thrown us too, in Helsinki it did not get dark until 1 am and the sun rose at 3!
We are surprised at how hot the weather has been, so for all you cynics we are in fact getting a tan!
St Petersberg, Russia; no one speaks a word of english, cryllic is impossible to read, let alone understand. No one wanted to talk to us so it took us four hours to eventually find a hostel to stay in for a few nights. The city itself is beautiful; the churches are very grand and every street corner we are awestruck by the architecture.
The Hermitage is almost beyond words; there are over 3 million pieces of art there, and after seeing around 100 or so they all started to look the same… especially as the rooms themselves are so opulent that you barely take in the artwork some of the time (the Hermitage is partly a palace).
Russian culture dictates that anyone with spare time, a car and in need of some money can act as a taxi….we thought we’d get involved with local practices by sticking our arm out too…little did we know that this would result in a two and a half hour long twilight trip around St Petes and its outskirts… only realising later on that
we started out little more than ten minutes away from our hostel….nightmare!
Moscow, Russia: on our first overnight train we met a lovely russian called Sasha who taught us how to drink vodka, the russian way! Since then we have encountered more Russians, Ivan, a friend from Nottingham Uni has been showing us round. We have seen, the Red Square, St Basil’s cathedral, Lenin’s tomb…which was very surreal…the Arbat, galleries, war memorials and more. As for Russian cuisine, we’ve had borsch. Kate’s not a huge fan of the beetroot but all of us are loving blinis. Moscow has been much easier to get around seeing as Ivan has acted as our own personal translator and guide. We’ve learnt some essential Russian phrases which we hope will equip us well for Siberia! We have enjoyed home comforts of a real russian home,
especially as we face four days on a train without showers.