Thursday, January 25, 2007

Moscow

Hey everyone,

I have responded to the comments on the last three posts, so be sure to check that. Sorry for not having time to post in the last couple days. We have had trouble finding internet.

Leaving St. Petersburg was quite tough as we had really gotten close with Marina and her family. They took such great care of us and it was an incredible experience. On the last night they told us all about Russian history and places to see, as well as the history of their family. Marina's grandmother showed us old photos of her relatives and an old sketch of a soldier that was her father (I presume). Afterwards we showed them photos of Calgary and Banff and so forth. It didn't make me feel homesick, but rather made me really happy to be from Canada, and I think it renewed in me a desire to explore my own country. Hopefully this lasts and I will be able to travel a bit more around Canada. We will definately be keeping in contact with them and when they come to Canada, we can return the favour.

We left Piter (St. Petersburg, as it is called by the locals) on the night of the 22nd and arrived in Moscow on the 23rd at 10:00 AM. Austin didn't have much luck sleeping but I slept quite well. I think I got about 6 or 7 hours. We took the cheap train which is called the hard-sleeper. I'm sure many of you know what this is all about, but this trip is my first experience with trains. Hard sleepers are slightly padded, but not very well. If I slept this well on the hard-sleeper, I am confident I will sleep quite well on the soft-sleeper of the Trans-Siberian train.

When we entered Moscow we were met by Alexander, a friend of Austin's mom, Lori. He first took us to our host's place which was actually quite easy to get to. The Moscow underground, once you get a bit accustomed to the Cyrillic alphabet, isn't too difficult to navigate. The St. Petersburg underground was much, much busier because it's not quite as extensive. Our SERVAS hosts are a lovely couple by the name of Leonid and Valentina. When we arrived we were greeted with a hot cup of tea and sandwiches. Valentina is a geologist and Leonid is a biologist. They had been on many expeditions to remote places of the earth and so we talked about these adventures of theirs.

We met up again with Alexander and visited Moscow State University as well as Red Square. Getting to Moscow State University was interesting and we got somewhat lost. On the other side of the Moscow River there is a large hill and we climbed up that. We stumbled across what looked like a ski hill at one point...Red Square was also quite impressive, but like everything, is much smaller than you would think. The Lenin Mausoleum was closed that day so we decided to return the next day. Afterwards we said our goodbyes to Alexander and went back to the home of our hosts. We had a delcious dinner and talked about Russia and Canada and other topics.

The second day we decided to get our tickets for the train. It was an interesting experience in that it was the first time in a long time that my French actually came in handy. We found the office of the ticket agency but couldn't get inside. There was a big metal door with a number-lock (not sure the correct name). We went into the grocery store next door and asked if anyone spoke English. Nobody did, and we couldn't understand what they were saying to us in Russian. Finally, a young Russian guy came in and could speak a little English. He said something about pressing 2 on the lock on the door. Austin and I proceeded to thank them and walked out and back to the ticket agency. We pressed 2 and someone said hello. We said that we didn't speak Russian and tried saying "Bilet" which means ticket in Russian. Finally, she asked, "Parlez-vous Francais?" Relieved, I asked her where I could pick up my tickets and she let us in. It turned out she wasn't actually the ticket agency, but was the neighbour, so she knocked on the next door and there, finally, was the ticket agency. Afterwards we went and visited the Lenin Mausoleum which was interesting.

Anyway, I am running out of time and will post later. We are going on the train tonight at 23:00 and should be in Mongolia in about 5 days. Talk to you then!

Will

8 comments:

Paps said...

Hey there, I'm getting some work done on the truck. You should get Austin some ear plugs so he gets some sleep also. How many Canadian pins do you have left? I haven't gone further other than todays entry. You guys are meeting some very interesting people. It would be great if we can return the hospitality back to them if they come to Calgary. Stampede would be a time for that kind of visit or to come and ski in March/April. Oma was in seventh heaven when she got to see your blog. Hopefully she buy her own computer some day and she can do more of this stuff...
All is well here. Enjoy your time....
Paps.

Liz vd. Laan said...

Hey Will,
I was wondering where are you headed to after Moscow? Also, what is SERVAS, is it a world-wide organisation?
Liz

Mike said...

Vilhem,

I am quite impressed with your travels to say the least. You seem to be having such an amazing time in Eastern Europe, which I would have to imagine is a lot harder than Westren Europe where english is used much more. I can definately relate to the feeling of not being able to sleep whilst travelling and I am glad to hear that you are able to get some good sleep. So you can tell Austin that there is someone else in the world that knows what it is like to spend 8-10 hours in a cramped, uncomfortable space without getting a wink of sleep.

Hmm what else was I going to add... Ahh yes. I know what it is like to be proud to be Canadian. Esspecially because we have so many Americans on my DTS and I constantly see how great a nation Canada is compared to other places. Also you really learn how lucky you are to live in such a great country and how we take so much for granted. But we both experienced that earlier on both our Mexico trips.

Well I hope to hear from you again soon, and I will definately have a lot of travel tips for you, plus a sweet place to stay in P.Penh and some touk touk drivers to take you places. They know my team well so you shouldnt have trouble getting a good price, jsut mention my name and it will be a done deal really!

Anyway that's all from me. God Bless and good luck on the rest of your travels,

- Mike

oma said...

Hello William. Oma here. I love you and keep on playing Frustration.

Nathan said...

STUPID MONGORIANS! TRY AND BREAK DOWN MY SHITTY WALL!!!!!!

Darren said...

Will,

After reading your blog, I've decided
to drop out of school and meet you in
Mongolia. Due to my overflowing debt,
I'll have to hitchhike to the boarder
and take a hump back whale across; hopefully
I don't miss you guys.

On a more serious note, it sounds like
you and your friend are having an
amazing time. The ham (or Spam) and
cheese sandwiches made my mouth water
and your account of stories definitely
put a smile on my face.

Anyways, be safe, change your underwear,
and what ever you do... don't pet
the monkeys; I hear they're vicious.

Mr. Lam

Anonymous said...

Hi Will,
I am glad you are having so much fun and that everyone is showing you such a good time. I cannot wait to read about your experiences on the Trans-Siberian. When you show pictures of Calgary and Banff what are there reactions/comments? How has the weather been? Everything here is good including the weather. No winter jacket required! Everyone here at Enercon really enjoys your blog and the interesting pictures, (especially the one showing tile being roof loaded. Take care Will.
Kevin and Tsering

Will said...

Hey Dad,
Good to talk to you today on the phone! I have lots of Canadian pins left so no need to worry. I really hope the people we meet will visit us in Calgary. I'm glad Oma liked the blog. Hopefuly she will get her own computer so she can read up on this stuff more often, as well as play cards with me.

Hey Liz,
We are currently in Tianjin, which is just outside of Beijing. SERVAS is a realy cool organization. Check out www.servas.org.

Hello Miguel,
Thanks for the tips on Cambodia and perhaps I will look into the places you recommended. It is funny how travelling makes you appreciate your own country more...You sort of take it for granted when you are at home.

Hey Oma,
Glad to hear from you and I'm happy that you are keeping up with my blog!

Nathan,
I PUT SWEET AND SOUR PORK ALL OVER DEY HEADS! Yo, where are you now?

Darren,
Make sure not that the hump back whale is fully insured, or else you may face a hefty fine if you get in an accident! Hump back whales can do a real number on automobiles! I have been changing my underwear weekly, so no worries there! Thanks for the tip though! Glad to see your keeping up with my blog! How is school?

Hey Kevin and Tsering,
Thanks for keeping up with the blog. When I get back I propose a pizza/photo viewing session!

Thanks for your comments,
Will :)