21 Jul 2010 @ 11:09 PM 

The pictures for the Mongolia part of our trip, so you can check those out now!

Finally, our train pulled into the Yekaterinburg station and we deboarded. Waiting for us 2 feet from our train was the travel guide assigned to take us to the border monument. On the way, he explained that there are actually three border monuments, and, as it was a Friday, there would be lots of weddings at them, which there were. The monument closest to the city was installed by the mayor because he was tired of taking guests all the way to the border (which is a mere 33km farther). This border monument is clearly not at the actual border. The second monument we passed was the old monument that the city tore down, which prompted an outcry from the people, so they just plopped it on the side of the road in no particular geographic location. The last monument was the real one on the real border. Sunil frolicked around in Europe and Asia at the same time and we probably ended up in the background of a million wedding pictures.

The next day, we got on a terrible train made of wood for 24 hours. We had the top bunks and a morbidly obese lady had the bunk below, so we were confined to a tiny bed where you can’t even sit up for 24 hours. It was pretty hot and we got pretty crabby. That’s all I am going to say about that.

The next morning we arrived in Vladimir and checked into a nice hotel because they have no hostels. Sunil finally showered and turned the water brown (insert racist joke here). We then took a bus to Suzdal, which is a tiny town famous for its many churches and its honey mead. It was really nice to spend the day walking around a quiet, small town in the middle of nowhere. We had an expensive meal at the kremlin monestary and tried the honey mead. It sadly tastes nothing like the name, it is very dry and acidic. I don’t think I am a fan. I also tried caviar. Also not a huge fan. I was, however, a fan of Suzdal.

We took the bus back to Vladimir and walked around the town during the afternoon. Vladimir was picturesque and we enjoyed wandering around. We then went back to the hotel where I washed some clothing in the bath tub like a peasant laborer. Then we accidently fell asleep at 8pm in the glorious air conditioning. At about 11pm we woke up, realized it was too late to go do anything, and drank some beers to facilitate our going back to sleep.

At 5am we woke up to board a train to Moscow, marking the true end of our trans-siberian journey. We arrived early in the morning and headed underground to use one of the busiest, largest metro systems in the world. It puts any other metro I have seen to shame. The stations are ornate and decorated with gold, stained glass, and mosaics. The trains come once every minute and ten seconds (seriously) and you can get everywhere using them. We dropped our bags at our hostel and headed out to see the city. First, however, we needed nourishment. We hit the nearest McDonald’s where Sunil ate a hamburger made of shrimp. Then we went to Red Square, which was huge and beautiful. At the other end of the square is St. Basil’s cathedral. It is just as lovely as on TV or in photos. We both got in for a pittance due to us having University of Washington ID cards and the ticket taker being English-challenged enough to believe we were students. Every surface on the inside is covered in ornate paintings, carvings, and art.

We then went to the Kremlin, where karma bit me in the ass. Here, they would not accept my fake student ID and I had to pay 1,050 rubles to enter, which is about 5 times any other entrance fee in all of Russia. We went to the armory, which was what made the ticket so expensive. It is a huge museum of the treasures of Russian royalty. Inside is a room full of giant diamonds… which we somehow managed to leave without finding. The rest of the kremlin involves a lot of churches with crazy art inside. We saw a lot of paintings of Jesus.

While walking around Moscow, we saw something called the ‘Red October chocolate Factory’, so we got really excited and decided to go there after the Kremlin. Sadly, ‘chocolate factory’ is Russian for ‘former chocolate factory’, so our oompa-loompa dreams were crushed. We saw some more sights in Moscow, like a fountain park and an advertisement for a metal-museum exhibit called ‘kamasutra spoon’, which contained warnings that it wasn’t for ‘easily offended persons’. I know I will wish I had gone into that exhibit for the rest of my life.

We got back to our hostel just in time to avoid a huge thunderstorm. Once the sun started to set and the weather started to clear up and cool off, we headed back out to red square, St. Basil’s, and the Kremlin area to take some more pictures. On the way out, we passed a man dressed in business attire sitting slumped over on the sidewalk. He had a few drops of blood on his shirt, but we assumed he was drunk or napping. On the way back, hours later, he was still there and hadn’t moved an inch and looked creepily stiff… in retrospect we decided he was probably dead.

The next morning, we went to the fallen sculptures park, which was the place where Russia stashed monuments in danger of being vandalized after the collapse of the Soviet Union. There were a lot of Lenin heads and a Stalin with no nose. Then Sunil went to Lenin’s tomb, where he saw the actual dead body of Lenin. Sunil managed to see two dead bodies in under 24 hours in Moscow. Some travel site said I wouldn’t be allowed in Lenin’s tomb in sandals, so I bought some postcards and drank kvas while I waited. Sadly the travel site was wrong, so I missed dead Lenin for nothing.

In the early evening we boarded the fastest train in Russia to go to St. Petersburg. We had a very expensive airplane style meal to celebrate my almost birthday and arrived in St. Petersburg in under 4.5 hours. Tomorrow we will explore the wonders of St. Petersburg and then board a plane for Turkey via Latvia to meet up with some friends for the rest of our journey. (Yes, Chris, I am talking about you).

Posted By: Robin
Last Edit: 21 Jul 2010 @ 11:09 PM

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