26.02.2010 - 28.02.2010 -5 °C
So today was the proper touristy day, if that's even a word? Kremlin, Foreign market, Peace and just a general walk round. We walked yet another different way to the centre of the city so this confused us all which wouldn't help later that night. The Kremlin was awkward to get into but worth it. The actual word Kremlin refers to the domes on top of orthodox churches its just everybody refers to the political sight in Moscow as THE Kremlin, as our honcho liked to point out. It was impressive, you cross a bridge to enter as its kind of like a fortress. We did the extra bit into the armoury which I liked, several different rooms with a range of items in them from different periods of Russian history, we also got some pictures as everyone was doing it but one by one as we walked round we got told off by staff. Richard was first but the guy said 'no flash' so Richard did as he was told then the guy got quite frustrated so we moved on from that room rather quickly. The most impressive pieces were the chariots and transportation pieces they had. They were ridiculously decorated and it great condition.
After this we had plenty of free time to walk round the grounds you were allowed in but it was a bit samey on the outside, the buildings were all of a similar design which was good and we enjoyed looking round but there was about 15 buildings just different sizes. To break it up you could go inside some buildings and look at tombs and restored books which explained a lot about the history and the faith of the place. We got a lot of pictures and also saw what we guessed to be was the Russian changing of the guard like at old Buck house?
From there we had arranged to meet at good old Tepemok the pancake place yum. I dabbled with a mince meat one, wasn't to bad but I did wash the taste down with a nice honey one sweeeeeeet as! Masha met us later on and from there we walked down the main shopping street of Moscow taking in the Russian fashions and what they liked which turned out to be Starbucks and other mass capitalist brands. We also saw a great invention maybe soon coming to a mc donalds near you? A walk through station built into the side, genius the inventor of that should get a medal in my opinion. We passed by the peace wall which is something I'd never heard of but it seemed to be a graffiti covered wall carrying political messages and peace signs, some Russians did try and tell us about it but Masha didn't seem keen on talking to them, wonder why? From the end of the street we got the metro to the foreign market or I think that's what it was called. By the time we got there it was closed pretty much what was open was the only official vodka museum in the world and for a couple of pound you got the tour and a free shot. This wasn't a rip off this lady knew her stuff and they had hundreds of antique bottles and lots of history dotted around the place. Then it came to the free shot, she said she would give us a special infused and flavoured vodka and began telling us its vintage and place of make then dropped the old line about it being nut flavoured...
Luckily I hadn't shot it just yet so she had it and I got a nice Blueberry flavoured one, we all liked our little tipple before home. As Masha took us home we quizzed her on where would be good for a 'quiet' drink and maybe a little shindig but she couldn't really name anywhere so we went home disappointed. We did meet some travelers in our hostel when we got back though that had just done the same trip as us but in reverse, they told us of their experiences and made us even more enthusiastic to get on the road/tracks. As well as the returning travelers there were two Australians called Dean and Kurt who were on a different itinerary to us but were to start their trip the same day as we left for Irkutsk so it seemed we'd be joined by more people which sounded good, new blood and all that!
For tea it turned out the girls who had stayed in the night before had some ingredients left over so we became quite the efficient kitchen staff and made a massive portion of the tasty Godzilla's pasta, it was that spiral pasta forgive my lack of pasta knowledge, mixed vegetables and a tomato and basil sauce which went down a treat with everyone. Even though it wasn't home food it was despite us all being English. We decided we would go out and see if we could find anywhere for a drink and just a general night out as the hostel wasn't really party central, the living space was in the middle of the building and was 'closed' after a certain time. We got sorted and set off only to find one place that said we needed i.d. as a proof of age and they'd only except passports. Then when we said we'd return they suddenly decided it was over 21s so that ballsed up some of the group. Moving on we did find a cool music bar that was busy but meant we couldn't get a seat in view so we had to watch the performance on television, they were fair pants too. Drinks were a tad pricey as well and they had some of the most ignorant staff ever, especially for a capital and pretty much European city.
We got back to the hostel a little under whelmed but at least we can say we'd been out in Moscow.
Up the next morning and it was the train to Irkutsk. We were all ready and waiting for the mini bus, packed and all present and correct but we were joined like we thought we were going to be but not by the people we thought would be? It was Johnny from New Zealand and Hazel from Essex. They were doing the trip known as the ruski huski with the two ozzy's but they were no where to be seen. The mini bus took is time but did arrive strangely enough just as the Australians did, looking a little worse for wear. Turns out they'd been out with their honcho the previous evening shall we say for a few drinks, leaving Johnny and Hazel in the hostel, and this resulted in much intoxication, a fair few trips round the Moscow suburbs and quite a nasty head wound for Kurt after he slipped down the metro stairs. They smelt faintly of booze and had had only a couple of hours sleep if that but they were the best bus company I'd ever had, funny and slurly are the key factors why. We did make to the train though on time as well, we had to dash to the supermarket though as we hadn't had time and they did take Kurt to a nurse in the station who then wanted to call the police so I think our group left a lasting imprint on Moscow and its people.
The trains were not as impressive as our transport from St Petersburg as that was a regular shuttle service so these were a little more worn in. Our rooms were the same set up if slightly smaller and my cabin was Richard, Diane, Rosie and I. We packed our stuff away as best as possible and began acclimatizing to our new moving home. We were the middle cabin between the Ruski Huskis of Kurt, Dean, Johnny and Hazel and the rest of the girls from our group. The carriage had two toilets/washrooms that were old school but still more impressive than national rail, naht! We also had a sumuvar, not correct spelling, which is like a massive kettle much better than auntie Lucille's boiler thing, We could use this for tea, coffee and noodles which we regularly but some of the girls came prepared, unlike me, with hot chocolate and cup-a-soups. We soon noticed once we got underway that the trains were very hot, maybe to offset the outside temperature but it was mad so we got the pins out for the lads and it was shorts or leggings all round (I opted for shorts).
The day went well and soon blended into the next as we didn't have many stops the first day. The following morning we all woke up in our own time as there wasn't really much to see. Some people ventured to the buffet car which very close to ours and that was the main highlight other then staring out the window and seeing, snow, field, town and yes another train blast past us. We did eventually strap on a pair and get out at a station where we had like a twenty minute wait. Some of the group got kitted out in their winter gear again but I'm from up north so just went for it. It was fair nippy, rumours were it was minus fifteen or twenty but didn't feel like it. We were greeted by many food sellers and the odd souvenir tout but other than it was take pictures and make ice cubes for the wodka we'd brought aboard.
That night we had a little cabin party, the attendants two Russian ladies weren't too happy about the noise but were mostly British and on holiday nothing was going to stop us. We somehow got all twelve of us into a four person cabin, not ours thankfully, and drank and chatted away. Got some music going with the speakers we'd brought and it was a great way to get through the trip. Also since we were going to be traveling through different timezones as we trained it across the country there was no 'curfew' to be had so we went to bed when we wanted to and, depending on your cabin, could.