TravellingStrom

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Meandering in Moscow

Posted by TravellingStrom on July 24, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

Hi all, no real news on the China issue at this time, pursuing a number of different avenues, but it is starting to look like a detour up into Mongolia and then ride 2,000km of crap roads, then drop south into China from there. See what happens, I can only tear so much hair out you know!

OK, this is basically a catch up post to show what I did in all that time in Moscow, while waiting for my passport. So, yesterday, Friday I had done a bike day and had some beers, so it was after lunch before I ventured out, my main goal was as you would expect, Red Square and the Kremlin, but I also wanted to see the Lubyanka, from the outside. A bit ghoulish I suppose, but for those that don’t know this is the former KGB headquarters, lots of ‘stuff’ went on there and I grew up on spy stories ;). So, it was not hard to find, just go into the underground metro train system and exit at Lubyanka 🙂 It was a bit more difficult than that, because first off I had to try to understand the different routes, then try an interpret the stops, which is in Cyrillic, but the rail network map I had was in English translation. I was planning on using this day to get used to it, so I had plenty of time to get lost then found 🙂 Down there, the stations have all got their own distinct flavour of decoration, whether stained glass or statues or whatever. I did get to the big yellow Lubyanka building, and also down near Red Square for a bit of a look around 🙂

Just near RS is the eternal flame, here the guards stand rock solid still for an hour at a time, although I did see their eyes moving around, a bit undisciplined I thought, but maybe they are allowed. 🙂 Anyway, every hour on the hour they do the changing of the guard, or the Ministry of Silly walks as I call it 🙂 It is quite cool though.



After this I went for a wander through Red Square itself, this is HUGE, and the cream coloured building is GUM, a real high class department store, it runs nearly the length of the square, while on the opposite side is the Kremlin, which is not a single building like I thought, but a whole complex of buildings and is of course the seat of power. At the far end is the real nice coloured onion domed building, another bucket list entry checked off 🙂

After that it was time to hit the tube station again and try and work out how to get back, for some beers and a feed 🙂 Near the railway station I spotted this little drama playing itself out 🙂

And during the evening I met a couple of Dutch lasses, Maaike and Laura, nice to meet you, and as it was Saturday night in a hostel there were many beers to be drunk, once it got dark, about 11pm, all the young ones hit the town till the wee hours 🙂

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Sunday late morning I decided to go for a wander to a market, it was supposed to be a cheaper place to buy new tat and they also had a flea market, so you can buy someone’s old tat 😉 I used the metro again, this time having to change lines a couple of times, good practice though hard to do, the train line names need to be in English and Cyrillic on the map, it would make it so much easier! Even the metro entrances were grand affairs, many ways in and usually a very recognisable statue to find it with, even if you cannot read the wording and when you go down, you really go down a loooong way, all this for about 85c and if you stay down there, you can ride the trains all day! 🙂

Finding the market was easy, it had all these little false steeples and onion domes etc, but in behind them was a place with the real thing.

The market had as advertised, a lot of tourist stuff, excuse the blurred bits, a big thumb print 😉 But, they had old army stuff as well, including rocket launchers, or are they bazookas, whatever, big suckers. Of course, many shops had the Matroshka dolls, those ones that have another inside and another etc etc etc.

I spent quite a few hours there, met a Russian chap who used to run tours from Spain and after that I ended up buying a doll set and a Tshirt 🙂 This lady made her own and they were small enough to package up and either carry or send home, I bought the blue one with the other 6 dolls already back in each other 🙂

I then went for a hike over to the other many coloured building to take some photos and when I took a photo of the field gun I was busted by the photo police, apparently no photos unless you pay for the museum(vodka museum), so I took a few from outside and chuffed off over town again.

I headed back to the eternal flame area as I wanted a better video, which as it happened I have posted up top of this page in an earlier post(what day was it again??) Once that was done it was back to the hostel for beer, in the underground on the way back I met and said hooroo to a group of health workers who had been staying there as well, nice to meet you all 🙂

The evening was a repeat of last night, except this time I had a bottle of vodka to polish off, um, I think it was gone 3am when I crashed, this hostel lifestyle is bad for the health! 🙂

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Not a great deal happened Monday, it was a LATE wake up and I had nothing much to do until a meeting with Tony.P from the HUBB, he who helped me with the bike on Friday. He had been up to his dacha all weekend and just got back(dacha is a summer house) [Of course today was the fateful day the Chinese government decided to change the transit requirements for self drive tours, which was a post by itself HERE ] I worked my brain off during the day trying to work out a way around the problem, so were a few of the other riders, those who had been informed, Neil and Nacho and Chris. So anyway, Tony P. and I met up late evening, I had a couple of pick me ups prior to that while waiting and we hit a bar called Bourbon Street, a very Americanised pub, but comfortable and an actual bar to sit at, they are very hard to find over here. Anyway, we met a few local people and had some booze and just had fun for the evening, just to flush out today’s calamitous news.

We left later than expected, gone 1.30am and the metro stops at one, so we resorted to the usual practice of an unofficial taxi. These are people who drive around, all you do is wave your arm, agree on a price and you get a lift home 🙂 I think I might start one in Rocky 😉 Of course, once I was back at the hostel, another party was happening, different people different party, the only constant were the girls at the front reception desk 🙂

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Tuesday dawned at some stage, a long time ago anyway before I arose but I had some things to get done. Once I had answered a few emails about China, I grabbed some gear and went to find a post office, there was one around the corner, lucky I asked the girls what to look for as I would never have guessed, but after a bit of help from a lady in the line up, I managed to get some gear sent to Australia and Switzerland, so look out mum and Simon 🙂 The packages get wrapped by the lady behind the counter and tied with string, hopefully everything stays inside and does not get broken.

OK, one down one to go. Next on my agenda was security for the bike, this is insurance to pay for any injury if I get involved in an accident, in Oz we call it 3rd party insurance. [on a side note – One of the things I had confirmed yesterday was that my passport had left on the Pony Express and was due in today or tomorrow. Whenever it arrived I wanted to be ready to ride away, probably Thursday, I would then have 5 days to cross into Kazakhstan and not over stay my visa, a bad thing 🙂 ] [on a side note to the side note, apparently one of our group decided to go ride the BAM highway while in Russia and is now currently 3 weeks over their visa time and still inside Russia, the Lubyanka comes to mind!]

Anyway, I had asked the girls to write down the info I needed and it was a different metro line to find the office for insurance. It turned out to be a bank, but although we could not talk each others language, I came away with my ‘green card’ a massive $20 for 10 days 🙂 But, it was needed, when I cross into Kaz, I do not need the hassle like what happened in Latvia, I only have so many Koala bears you know 🙂 In the following photos is a sign saying BbIXOA, this is an exit sign, it took me a while to work out what to look for.

By the time I had sorted that, I then went to meet up with Tony P. and another HUBB member EyeCake, riding a Beemer he had just arrived and a quick visit by Motorreiter, another HUBB member. It took me a while to find them, I had been confused by the directions given but find them I did and we were soon sitting having beer watching the Chicas within sight of the Kremlin walls 🙂

It was not all glorious down there in Moscow, a lot of street people, this little old lady was not looking at a drink, but whatever money that was in the cups bottom!

So, we headed to a Tibet place for dinner, all you can eat and drink for about $A25, seemed good to me, once we had finished that we hit Bourbon St bar again before making a dash for the metro, I know I just managed to get my transfer with all the cleaning staff and the last train of the night, before a few more beers at the hostel, but not such a late one, well sort of 😉

And that is what happened in Moscow, of course, once the China thing hit I was pretty much in shock, but in the end there was not much I personally could do about it, except help the others and myself by find an alternative route if we cannot do this one.

Cheers from Moscow
TravellingStrom

2 Responses to “Meandering in Moscow”

  1. Carl said

    I was right, i always thought you collected and played with dolls.

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