Russia! Rubles, Robbery and dodgy charades!

Russia Travel Blog

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Collapsed in my seat of the surprisingly spacious plane covered in sweat struggling for breath is my first memory of this trip, London to Moscow for only £220 bargain I thought!!!! I didn't check the 15 minute transfer time at Berlin Tegal!!! for those who have not been there the departure and arrival areas are on different sides of the airport and you can only make it there if you run like a crazy man but that's exactly what I did and I made it how? I don't know its all a mad blur!
Eventually arriving at Moscow I was feeling pretty crappy and excited at the same time, I rolled up to a desk to grab a taxi and not a word of English spoken at this point I immediately regretted not learning more Russian but hey I am now a master of charades! I was staying at Godzilla's hostel not the best charade to do in front of a scary Russian cab driver in the middle of the airport! But after monster walking across the taxi rank I made it into the cab and he started driving at speeds that would put Lewis Hamilton to shame! Guess what he got pulled over by the police I have genuinely not been as scared before when the two of them started screaming at each other!!! whatever was said worked and we were on our way 2 hours later I finally arrived at the hostel which was pretty good and I would recommend it if you find yourself in Moscow. I dropped my bags and decided to head into town for a beer and some food and to meet a friend who was already here, a pretty exciting start to the trip!
The next day after some cinnamon buns and a cup of tea (how English of me!) we decided to hit red square and the hugely impressive St Basil's cathedral it did not disappoint at all. As we came round the corner to the red square a huge snow storm started and we struggled to see the impressive structure so we decided to have a huge snow fight as you do! Several people had the same idea and that was that I was covered from head to toe in snow and completely froze! Then the snow stopped and blue sky's came from no where it was incredible as was the sight of St Basil's Cathedral we did the obligatory tour on the inside and then decided to wonder around Moscow for the rest of the day stopping in random parks and museums off the beaten track a bit I was only stopped five or six times by the police trying to get money off me for being a tourist luckily I had my passport and visa on me if not I dread to think what I would have had to pay in bribes! The next day my friend and I decided to head to St Petersburg on a night train again the quality of my charades were tested as I danced like a train around ticket office in between pretending to sleep!!!! we got the tickets and headed into town one last time.
Night trains are a pretty good place to meet new people mainly because your stuck with your room mates for at least 8 hours like it or not. We got lucky and met a really nice Russian man called Dmitry he couldn't speak English but we still managed to chat, drink a few beers and play cards throughout the night. We arrived at St Petersburg about 6.30am the tiredness was kicking in and I regretted getting about 2 hours sleep we said our farewells and headed to the Nord hostel for a quick power nap.
The Hermitage is well not just fucking huge but spectacular it has everything you could want inside and we spent hours and hours traulling our way through the rooms and still didn't see everything you definitely need at least two days dedicated to that place. After a good day in the hermitage we wanted to see a bit of the normal side of life in St Petersburg and found a dirty little restaurant which served fantastic caviar and pancakes and started to chatting to the locals who told us to hit Bar Dascha later that night as it's the “Place Russian's go not the fucking tourists” taken aback and kinda feeling like id been accepted into the true Russian life I took the address down and decided we would head there later, little did I know this would be quite an eventful night!
Directions in Russian are not the easiest to follow but after about an hour of walking in circles and only just minuets away from the bar we found the entrance blocked by two of the biggest men I have seen in my life! The instant reaction was to turn and find the local hard rock café and have a quiet night but with a little bit of motivation from my friend Neil we went for it strode up nice and confident muttered dobryj vyechyer and they parted and we were on the inside! It was an ace little bar good music, cheap beer, table football and the friendliest people we had met so far. Lots of random chat and several beers later we met a couple of girls and a guy from the States studying in St Pete's we all got on like we had known each other for years especially the one girl and my friend. Neil by his own admission is not the biggest hit with the ladies usually down to his obsession with star wars and family guy! But he was doing ok ignoring this we drank vodka and danced like it was 1989 for a few hours and decided to follow our new friends to there favourite club! As we strode up a little merry Neil's friend had disappeared and along with her so had his wallet and several credit cards and quite a bit of money a school boy error to say the least! He didn't even realise until the morning thanks to the vodka! The club was ace lots of dancing and singing we left at some unearthly hour and headed back to the hostel by this point my coat had also disappeared luckily it had nothing in it!
We woke up the next day feeling like we had a sweet night but learnt a valuable lesson as well as feeling like shit! We wandered round for the rest of the day the cathedral yet again was fantastic as well as St Petersburg in general was it will definitely be the new Venice when visa free travel arrives (well if it ever does) after another night in the hostel we woke early and decided to grab a train to Helsinki leaving behind Vodka, Rubles, Fur hats as well as Neil's wallet!

Russia is definitely a challenge but I liked it! I liked it alot!!!!
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