Day 4 - 03:00 Thursday 2 March
Have moved at a regular speed from the Ukraine into Russia during the midnight hours, travelled quite a distance too. There didn't appear to be any change of train equipment at any point. We stop for Customs and passports at 3am, the Russian officials board quickly and we get an another customs officer who looks around our compartment after first glancing up into the corner where the shoes are. At this point he asks Rob and Martine to lift the lower bunk bed so he can look at their luggage, which he examines one piece of then he's gone.
The passport border official is almost smiley compared to the serious face of the Ukrainian officials in army fatigues, but he gives Rob and Martine's passports the same attention as ours and is quickly gone.
Then a man in a Puffer jacket and jeans arrives and asks us each individually what we were asked when we applied for a visa, which job, which school, what degree and what work we do now. Will we try to find work in Russia and where do we travel. Even having a third visitor went smoothly apart from Rob trying to use a Russian language app on his phone to translate his answers into Russian, this was declared "a bad idea" by our questioner in very good English. So it all went smoothly if not swiftly, we even got a smile on his departure.
My phone at last updated the time zone at the moment we crossed into Russia, but probably trying to atone for not updating for the Ukraine it over compensated and added an extra hour, for our 4 days in Moskva I alone was living in the Siberian city of Perm time zone, life is becoming complicated.
We all get 4 hours sleep before preparing for our arrival in Kievskaya station Moskva. After a slow trawl through the extensive suburbs we are there. Amazing to watch men working near to the tracks with no gloves, yes there is snow on the ground and it's pretty cold with a NE (from Siberia) blowing.
The sacks of shoes. As we pull into Moscow Kievskaya station 2 serious looking large men appear at our compartment, they don't look like the attendant's little helpers or trans dressers either. They are accompanied by the car attendant who is there to keep us calm but the carriage is now becoming quite crowded and there is a tension in the air. We are packed up and ready to go but are blocked from moving. The car attendant points to the sacks, nods at us and a man climbs up, pulls down one and then the second sack all in silence and then they are gone, with the shoes...
We'll never know the real story but can always spend a minute or two guessing.
Next up is meeting with Ruth and a 4 day break before the Trans Siberia Express takes us east.
Her smile is as big as ever, we meet Ruth again after 2 years and it's very good to do so, Rob and Martine meet her for the first time. She has already scouted the hotel we all stay in and the correct station exit. All exits except one are now closed due to a high level of security we found all over the city. It was required to put all bags through a scanner and each person is scanned, that was to exit the station too.
Our arrival station Moskva Kievskaya. Photo taken on leaving Moskva 4 days after our arrival, this is the only photo we have of it.
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The hotel Moskva Kievskaya Ibis is only 200m away from the exit, all local life is around and outside the station which makes the area feel lived in. First impressions are very good, it improved during our stay.
We are 4 days in Mockba and as this is a travelogue and not a city guide I'll just list highlights -
- Hotel superb in all aspects
- Moscow Metro system works as well as any we have used, well priced and looks like an art gallery in places, never seen the like of this.
- People look serious but are very friendly if approached, most try hard to help, we really enjoyed being with Moscow people
- They have Red Square which is pretty spectacular and larger than we expected. Everything is brighter and more 3D than any photos show. All the main buildings appear as though they were painted yesterday.
- The Cosmonaut Museum was for me to die for. They presented the USSR and Russian view of the Space Race, how they succeeded and failed with rocket and space travel projects, the human aspect and cost of pioneering space in a mixture of detail and overview. The dog space suits were worth the admission price alone. Possibly the very best aspect of the Cosmo museum is the gigantic rocket taking off sculpture above the museum reaching high up to the sky. All in all a quite inspiring and one of the very best museums we have ever visited.
- Food is good and can be had at any level easily, all well prepared to our tastes.
- An amazing number of elegant, tall, beautifully dressed women with such poise we think there must be something in the water. This view is what the 3 women in our party think by the way.
- A very easy, surprising, friendly and enjoyable city to visit.
The only lowlight is Rob and Martine leave us on Day 6 to train to St Petersburg and then fly back to London.
St Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, Moskva
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One of two soldiers attending the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, outside the Kremlin walls
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Lubyanka, Moskva. The headquarters of the former KGB - now home to the FSB
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Yaroslavsky station Moskva, the unforgettable start point for the Trans Siberian Express
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Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, gigantic monument sited above the museum - Moskva
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Edited by v v, 17 March 2017 - 11:50 AM.