The overnight train from Warsaw to Moscow went amazingly quickly, and before I knew it the carriage attendant was waking us as we were coming into Moscow. It probably went quicker as we lost 2 hours on the trip east.
In Moscow, I was CouchSurfing with a guy named Evgeny but due to him being at work, I had about 6 hours until I could meet him so I put my big bag into the the luggage storage at the train station, and went to explore Moscow.
First stop of course was the Red Square – the image everyone thinks of when they think of Russia. The Kremlin, St Basil’s Basilica, Lenin’s Mausoleum – everything is right there in the one spot. A bit like Sydney really – go to Circular Quay and you’ve seen the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Harbour and Aboriginals playing the didgeridoo. Now you’ve finished, you can go somewhere more interesting!
I then did what I do best, and wandered aimlessly for a few hours, absorbing the city and taking photos of things that look interesting. Don’t really know what most of the things were, but I was enjoying myself until it started raining heavily – so I decided it was time for lunch.
About 6pm I went back to the station where my bag was, and met Evgeny and went to his place where I was staying for the next 2 nights. It was not far away on the metro (ooh, did I mention, apart from London, Moscow is the only city I’ve got the metro or any public transport in since I started this trip!). He lives in a nice flat, that feels very homely – especially after several weeks of hostel dorms. He’s a very nice guy, and cooked me dinner and we talked about my travels, life in Russia and all sorts of things before watching a Russian film.
The next day, I did yet another city free walking tour – it was not as awesome as the other ones. The lady who lead it was a bit strange, and there didn’t seem to be that much to really show us in Moscow which made it difficult.
That evening, a Turkish guy who is living in China was also CouchSurfing at the same place as me which was interesting. The 3 of us talked about a whole bunch of stuff while having dinner.
Day 3 in Russia saw me get the high speed train from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, leaving at 13:00 and arriving at 18:00. I was instantly in love with Saint Petersburg, it’s a beautiful city!
And at this time of year it never gets properly dark – they call it White Nights. The sun does actually set at about 11:30pm and rise at about 4:30am, but the sky doesn’t get totally dark. It’s amazing! I get amazed enough by how late it’s bright and how slow it gets dark in the UK, because in Sydney it’s pretty much dark about 9pm, even in the middle of summer.
That night, I checked into my hostel and then went to a CouchSurfing meeting at an African themed bar, which was quite a long walk from where I was staying, but it was worth it. A very cool little bar, and always good to meet CouchSurfers – locals and travellers at these meet ups. I headed back to my hostel about midnight, and it still looked like it was proper daylight!
A lot of the next day was taken up with chores more than fun – laundry, catching up on internet, contact family, back up photos, check money, register visa… Things like that. I had several drinks with dinner and then back at the hostel, and about 11pm I decided I’d take myself off to a gay bar in Saint Petersburg called Central Station.
I normally don’t like to go to clubs by myself, but I’m glad I made this exception. I had a good time, although apparently got there very early as it was about 2 hours before the club started to fill up. My favourite part were the almost naked dancing men! 😉
I walked home about 4am, and again, totally bright like it was the middle of the day!
Wow, was I unwell with my hangover the next day! I woke up and knew I wasn’t well, but didn’t want to lay in bed all day so forced myself up, showered and to a cafe for breakfast. When they put my coffee and eggs in front of me I almost threw up! It had nothing to do with their food, it looked lovely and I felt bad that I got so unwell and couldn’t get my bill and leave fast enough, barely touching anything! I went back to the hostel and slept for another few hours and felt better.
To really enjoy the full effect of the white nights, I went to the top of this dome, cathedral thing (can’t remember exactly what it was, sorry!) at about 12:30am for about half an hour or so. Got some brilliant photos of the sky, looking like sunset, you’d think it was early evening, not middle of the night. As I walked back to my hostel, I could tell that half the sky was dark and half was bright… And it seemed the sunset was moving around the horizon, and slowly turning into sunrise. One of the most magical things ever!
I had planned to do a walking tour in Saint Petersburg too, but it was at 10:30am, and considering the late nights I had to see the White Nights, I never managed to get up in time!
It was then sadly time to leave Saint Petersburg, as much as I’d love to have stayed and enjoyed it some more. 13:30 fast train to Moscow, arriving at 18:00 and then I met Evgeny again and he showed me more parts of Moscow that I’d not seen previously before we had a picnic dinner in a park by a lake. It was a nice evening, before getting on my Trans-Siberian 4 night, 4 day train for about 5100km to Irkutsk.
Remember, you can see all of my travels pics on Flickr.