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Catching the midnight train to Moscow, near Georgia.

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View The Trans-Mongolian Express on LewisNolan's travel map.

After our big night on the Russian town we thought a more appropriate wake up time was in order so at about 11 we met Wowa again, he looked rather sprightly even though his boss had phoned him at 8 am, gutted. Today was our final day before traveling to Moscow so we had to check out and then store our bags before having a stroll around the sights we'd neglected. We visited the Kazan cathedral, which was quite busy with people praying and giving devotions it was a welcome break from the busy main road outside and interesting to see a different denomination of Catholicism as I think this was a Russian Orthodox Cathedral. From here we walked to the Cathedral of the split blood which was definitely Orthodox with its domes and colours, this was the place where Alexander the second was assassinated hence the name and his son Alexander the third built this memorial but also undid all his fathers previous work the bad'un. Walking around again we just relaxed, we'd seen everything really and St Petersburg was a brilliant city and an excellent start to my trip.
Relaxing for the rest of the afternoon we went the orange house again, had a bite to eat and just chatted. We met Wowa around ten to pick up our bags and get a mini bus to the train station. The stations in Russian are very grand. Big, marble buildings looking very official, nothing like Burnley Manchester road. Some how I was nominated to have everything explained to me and be 'in charge' when it came to boarding the train and after that Wowa said his goodbyes and left. When our train was announced we rushed in a sense thinking the train would go without us but turns out the do things different abroad, the announcement was for our trains arrival so we had to stand in the cold for 30 minutes since we couldn't be bothered going back in. But the train was good, St Petersburg and Moscow have regular shuttle services since they are major, modern city's so the train was fairly new, clean and comfortable. Helen, Catherine, Rosie and Diane shared one cabin, me and Richard teamed up again and then Lizzy and Jo were paired. We had two Russian gentlemen with us but one went then returned for his bags and moved whilst the other ragged off and went to sleep. Turns out Jo and Lizzy had the travelers from hell, two older ladies with about 10 bags barged their way in and made themselves quite comfortable much to the girls horror but at least we were on. We had all made it and no one was arrested, yet.
The train left on time at midnight and arrived around 8am so we were greeted by Masha our new honcho. She was friendly and full of life we were the opposite after not getting much sleep on the train but we weren't horrible she was chatty and took us to our bus and then told us all about Moscow on the way to Godzilla's our new hostel. Masha was a good change from Wowa, a different opinion on the things, more enthusiastic and mad plus she was a girl and they can apparently multi-task??? Arriving at Godzilla's we found the entrance to be surrounded by the death tape which is always a good sign plus Moscow had just had one of the biggest freezes in history so every step was treacherous to say the least. As Jo and Diane found by slipping within about 10 minutes of being in the hostel, Jo nearly broke her back as she was wearing her rucksack at the time where as Diane just went flat on her arse in front of the group but the owner assured us the steps weren't slippy, wrong! The hostel wasn't too far from the centre of the city so we walked in and noticed how different this place was to St Petersburg. This, being the capital, was a lot busier and felt much bigger. We gotten a feel for our last stop but this a whole new kettle of fish. We passed the government building where Lenin made his infamous speech and stood below the balcony where he made it from as well as the home of the Moscow state circus but they aren't really the same, depending on your views on communism?
Next to the famous red square, which wasn't so much red as just a big open space with the Kremlin on one side, St Basel's at the end, a shopping mall on the other side and an ice skating rink in the middle for some reason it just wasn't the red square we'd imagined? It should have been grander really. The one thing that was grand in a way was Lenin's mausoleum. One of the weirdest things I think I will ever witness. Its a black building behind many lines of security so you pay in, store your bag, get security checked and are then told that you musn't stop at any point you have to keep moving. Naturally we didn't listen and waited for everyone to get in and see it as a group. It was like a little maze of passageways through the building then you enter the middle and there he is, Lenin, in a glass case dressed in a suit looking like a wax work but its actually him. For some reason though two people who shall rename nameless stopped smack bang in the middle and in front of me. So as I saw a guard moving in for the kill a gentle nudge and reminder did the trick but as I tried to explain to them what was wrong he shushed me and pointed at the dead guy in a box so this sporned the catchphrase, 'shhh Lenin' which lasted a good few days.
From Lenin to St Basel's which is a lot smaller than I thought but that didn't mean I didn't like it, it was kept in good condition but hadn't been refurbished and spoiled which was a good thing. You were allowed in pretty much every room, even the not so secret stairs, only problem was it was freezing! Even cooler than outside as you had no sunlight.
After that it was gentle stroll home as we had all pretty much been on the go all day so Masha made sure we got home safely and offered to take us somewhere for dinner. Jo, Richard and I were interested but the rest were a bit too tired and since our new hostel had a communal kitchen they fancied having a go at being Jamie Oliver for the night. So we rested for a few hours and settled in to our new hostel. Godzilla's was more of a hostel than our last place, more in the way I imagined anyway. We were all in a 10 person dorm room but they had twins, doubles and four people dorms but it worked quite well being in one room we could hang out together. It had three joint showers and toilets, laundry facilities, a living space and free internet but the manager was a bit of a goober.
Masha met us three at 7 and took us for sushi, I was a sushi virgin at this point. For some reason sushi is extremely popular in Moscow if a tad expensive but I liked it, didn't matter too much about the price as the night was good. Masha answered any questions we had and she could ask us anything so we both got something. We also taught each other a few swear words but the rest of the chat was very mature honest. Coming back to the hostel was odd, our first time in a big dorm room you felt very conscious of the amount of noise you made and didn't want to be the one to wake everyone up but once in bed you were fine, I actually slept better here than in the previous place.

Posted by LewisNolan 09:09 Archived in Russia Tagged backpacking

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Hi Lewis,

Your latest blogs are hilarious. I don't envy you being there in the freezing cold but I am glad to hear about all of the places you are visiting, especially from the comfort of my own home. This will turn into a great book once you return home. Take care and Happy Easter to you and all the friends you have made. Monica x

by Monica Burns

hi Lewis,
i think i've managed how to get this right...
you seem to be having a good time which i'm glad of, Lauranne says you were just on facebook and i had just missed you. as you said you may get the chance to phone soon. take care love mum xxxx

by annnolan

hello mate, sounds like you are having a good time and even eating raw fish!!! What the hell is that about? i can't help thinking that you need more female friends as the six you have is simply not enough!!
tale care, speak soon, Andrew and the clan.

by Andrew Nolan

Hi Lewis,

Hope you are doing ok. The photos are brilliant. Most of them look like picture postcards.

Take care.

Monica x

by Monica Burns

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