- Pre-trip preparations!
- Waking up in Warsaw!
- Warsaw, vodka and visas
- Hello Moscow – good to see you again!
- Russian cities and trains
- Banya in Yekaterinburg
- The second leg of the train ride: Yekaterinburg -> Irkutsk
- Irkutsk – Near the great Lake Baikal
- The last leg of the train ride. Irkutsk -> Ulan-Bataar
- Mongolia – 2 day tour!
- The end of the trip – our last night in Ulan-bataar
Well, where to begin! The last time i wrote was 4 days ago and as you might know by now. We don’t sit still!
The day in Moscow (25th july) went fast – we saw alot of monuments, took a free walking tour, ate some russian food, met some other tourists and even decided to meet up with one of them in Irkutsk as he (a german) also arrived when we did.
There is one thing i would like to mention from Moscow though – we visited the oldest banya (bath house) in Moscow and it was great!
From the outside it looks like a restaurant and it even says pectorah (restaurant) on the outside… which is kinda true. You then go in and people in towels are walking around. We were met by an english speaking russian who told us about the classes of the bath from highest to lowest and we opted for middle (1800 rubles each). When we got in, I for one was quite surprised. It actuallyt was a restaurant! We got a seat each and we were assigned a waiter. Everybody could order food and drinks and all kinds of massages and leaf treatments and whatnot. All while sitting naked in your towel. You then interrupt your food to go in the sauna to warm up and then go straight into some colder pools (20c) to cool down. Go back to the restaurant part, eat, drink, repeat.
We spent an hour there as we were in a hurry and quickly decided to try this again! Inside I believe that russian mob gangsters and rich businessmen were doing business. There were private cabins and lots of servers – even on second class. Finally we also bought a hat.. mostly as a souvenir but everyone wore one inside.
At 00:35 we boarded train 100 to Vladivostock!
We were riding third class. which meant 60 people crammed in small space. We knew nothing and noone spoke English. It was great! There is loads to speak of here, even though nothing really happened. Except for the evening where we met some crazy russians that gave us food and vodka in full excess. Read more about this on my travel companions travel diary:
Let me instead just show you some pictures we snapped:
Well there you have it. A picture explains more than a thousand words! 🙂
We met some russians on the train. They were all going from moscow (where they live) on the trans-siberian railroad to several russian cities and the first of them being yekaterinburg. At the same time as us 🙂
First arriving in Yekaterinburg it was a very weird feeling. Dear reader i don’t know if you’ve tried to be in a city where you understand nothing and know nothing and noone speaks your language. It’s a strange yet somehow appealing feeling. You find yourself out of your comfort zone and you succumb to basic communication. Pointing and general miming. We read from our guide book that the station is about 2km from the city centre and also that a hostel named Omnomnom was a good place to go. We also had a map of the city centre.
We went to a tram/bus station and quickly discovered that a map or a plan of the public transportation was nowhere to be found – let alone in english and decided to go with plan b. Find a nice looking babushka and point at the map saying your best russian “lenina” (for lenina street). Luckily she understood us and helped us get on the right tram. Things went smooth from there and with the help of our map and a couple of friendly strangers we found our hostel AND it wasnt booked! Although well hidden in a residential complex. We then dropped our bags and started wandering the city.
A side note is that they where 3 women working on the tram: 1 to drive, 1 to speak in the loudspeaker system and 1 to sell you tickets… and the tickets were about half a euro a pop. I can’t believe they get paid very well with such cheap tickets and 3 people working just one tram but thats another story.
With us wandering the city of yekaterinburg (more detailed descriptions in my travel companions before mentioned travel log) we noticed a few things. For example: they have starCUPS not bucks – although the logos look similar
And had some coffee at a great place called travellers coffee
We saw some race thing that was going on in town that day:
We also tried to go to something called “the amazing maze” but never managed to do so and generally looked at signs all day trying to read russian.
This all took maybe half the day (until 6 pm).
At 6pm we ran into the russians i talked about earlier that we met on the train. Two sisters and their boyfriends 🙂 They were going to see some “tent rocks” in a forrest somewhere and we decided to join. When we got there the rocks were nice and we snapped some pictures (well I didn’t as my phone was dead). We then continued deeper into the forrest by a huge lake where alot of partying were going on since it was offical navy celebration day. After that we went to a bar called Ben Halls pub which had live music and loots of pretty people – especially the girls:) All in all a very plesant evening with the russians. We enjoyed their company very much and hope it didn’t feel like we leeched in on their party 🙂
The next day i slept for like 10 hours and at the time of this writing we dont know what to do for the rest of the day – but a good bet is to go with one of the other russians staying here to another banya (bathroom) outside town. This time with local help to tell us what you’re supposed to do 🙂
4 days crammed into one post. I could easily spend 4 times as much. For example I haven’t told you about the soviet demonstration that met us in yekateringburg or the hostel and the people living there who apparently likes to sing 🙂
Tomorrow morning begins the longest leg of our journey. 54 hours on the train from Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk.