Attending the Olympic Games was a long time wish of mine that I kept on postponing for many reasons: Either it was too far away, too expensive or lack of remaining vacation days at my job. Moreover, a trip to these games requires careful planning – months ahead of the event – Or – maybe not.
The city of St. Petersburg is named after the Tsar Peter the Great who founded the city in the early 18th Century. The city is also known under two different other names in recent history: Petrograd (from 1914 on) and Leningrad (1924 – 1991). This place is full of history and culture. My stay of five days merely seemed enough to take in all the major sights. Continue reading “St. Petersburg, Venice of the North”
For a short vacation break, I did choose to visit the Baltic region, starting in Kaliningrad (Königsberg). The geographic location of Kaliningrad is quite extraordinary, being an exclave of the Russian territory, bordering Poland and Lithuania. Continue reading “At the Amber Coast of Russia in Kaliningrad”
Irkutsk is one of the main hubs for tourists in Siberia. There’s enough infrastructure to stock up on food and head either east (Vladivostok), south (Mongolia) or west (Moscow). When I arrived there, a number of administrative tasks were on my mind: Getting the visa for Mongolia, see a barber shop, post some postcards and mail a DVD containing about 4GB of pictures as backup from the camera’s memory stick to Switzerland. Eventually – among all these tasks – I would have some time to visit the city and also stock up some cup noodles for the onward journey.
Siberia is quite a different experience during this journey. Upon arriving in Novosibirsk, temperatures at 6am were around the freezing point – which is actually not too bad. But to explore the city I needed some extra effort, avoiding to simply stay inside in a cozy little cafe instead.
The last day in Moscow started uneventfully. In the morning, I went shopping groceries for the upcoming four-day journey on the train to Tashkent. I stocked some fruit and cup noodles. For lunch, I went back to the hostel where two roommates, Jeremie and Mark, were hanging out with two Canadian girls from the other dorm. We all decided to visit the city together, since everyone was somehow preparing to leave – either towards Mongolia, China or Europe.
Sleeping with ten people in the same room doesn’t bother me. Let’s emphasize the word “me” – because I do perform the art of snoring when being drunk or simply when being very, very tired. Therefore, I’m quite happy to report after the first night in the dorm, that others in the room snore, too. Which is especially true for the 22-year-old blonde girl from Indiana, sleeping in the bunk above me. She is performing her snoring with a thorough soprano voice. It is quite funny to watch new male arrivals trying to make contact with her before the night – then spotting their disappointment and – sometimes – sheer anger during breakfast next morning. I have come to the conclusion that men prefer a quiet night over good looks. Poor girl.
Packing all necessary stuff into a backpack isn’t that hard. With some experience, one knows what was missed during the last trip – or what proved to be useless and isn’t worth carrying around. And even for the inexperienced travelers, there are plenty of Rucksack packing lists available on the Internet. In my case, the random item was a portable stove. The original idea was to be able to boil water for coffee – one big luxury, I wasn’t willing to miss on my journey. But there’s always a source of hot water. And even if there isn’t: I figured out that I can get along fine without coffee for a day or two. The daily dose of caffeine seems not to be that important anymore.
My Russian is steadily improving, and I am quite proud of if. Today, I formed my first Russian sentence without the help of my trusty phrase book. I asked for “one liter of sparkling water” in the shop. And I actually got what I ordered. Fantastic! Little things like these make my day.