Russia--July 9-July 14, 2005
 

When will I get my luggage back?

I caught an early flight from Dublin to Warsaw and then connected to Moscow. Everything seemed to be going fine until I got to Moscow and my luggage didn't. Just having a backpack with everything in it, in a country where I don't speak the language or read it (different alphabet) was a challenge. After filing a claim and being assured that they would deliver it when they found it I proceeded to find my way to the hostel. I fought off several taxi drivers until I found one that would give me a decent price (they all said I couldn't take public transportation and nobody, even the information desk, wouldn't talk to me--- Welcome to Russia!) When I finally checked in, an American guy who works at the hostel took pity on me and helped my buy some toothpaste and shampoo so I could be somewhat clean. He also took me for a walk and for my first view of Red Square.

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Moscow

I had my initiation in taking the Metro and figured my way eventually. Very difficult because the alphabet is different and it is difficult to get around when you can't even sound out where you are going. I went to an outdoor market and had lunch and then did a walking tour of Red Square and went to visit St. Basil's Cathedral. This is what I always think of when I think of Moscow. Pretty spectacular.


St. Basil's Cathedral

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St. Basil's Cathedral at night

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More Moscow

Had the chance to visit the only Synagogue that survived Communist Rule. It is in the process of being restored. We tried to visit the KGB museum but it is closed unless you have a guide. The building is not even marked. We stumbled upon it... very secretive. I finally got my luggage back over 48 hours after I arrived. It was so nice to put on clean clothes!

I also visited Lenin's tomb. Another must when in Moscow.

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St Petersburg

From Moscow, I took the overnight train to St. Petersburg to see the sights. I traveled with two girls (Meg and Brie) I met from the US who had just finished taking the Trans Mongolian railway across Russia. As my Russian still isn't any better than it was when I had arrived in Moscow, I had problems finding the correct train. The hard part about Russia is that no one wants to help you out. They sort of stare at you and then will actually give you wrong information. This was true when trying to find the right platform. Finally after wandering fully loaded with our packs, we were able to locate the train and settle in for a night on the train. We arrived in St. Petersburg, not very refreshed or rested, but ready to start our busy day.

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More St Petersburg

We were able to see most of the sights in St. Petersburg including the Hermitage and the Peter and Paul Fortress. After spending 2 days in St. Petersburg I decided it was time to leave Russia. I had heard many rumors of corrupt police and was always on the lookout for one approaching to ask for documents. I was also tired of not feeling welcome in the country. This made me uneasy and I decided it was time to move on to bigger and better things. I was headed to Warsaw, Poland but could not book straight through on the train without going through Belarus (no visa for Belarus, so I couldn't go through). Instead, I booked a train ticket to Riga, Latvia and set out to see this capital in the Baltics. My friends were to leave to Vilnius but there bus was full, so they wound up going to Riga with me. Flexibility is what is great about the kind of travel I am doing.

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