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I took a 23:00 overnight train from St. Petersburg to Moscow on Thursday evening. I had a second class coupe and met an Italian family. We chatted long into the night, so I got very little sleep, but it was worth getting to know Gea, Antonio and Zia Anna. My toothbrush was mint gum in the evening and my shower was a baby wipe.

Sharon met me as I got off the train and we to the Napoleon Hostel to drop off my things. The Italian family decided to come along and I actually ended up spending a large part of my day with them, visiting the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the tomb of the unknown soldier and walking around the Red Square. I was happy that Lenin’s Mausoleum was closed because I wasn’t really interested in seeing his preserved body or paying any types of respects to him! One of the nicest things yesterday was heading into a church were musicians began singing hymns in Russian. It brought tears to my eyes as I stood in a beautiful church, looking at icons of saints and listening to heavenly music.

Later in the day, we met Sharon for a cafeteria style lunch and I had some delicious kasza, kotlety, beets and fresh squeezed orange juice. Luckily the lunch was a reasonable cost, but it hasn’t always been the case in Russia. In fact, Moscow and St. Petersburg have been extremely costly. There are Russian prices and tourist prices. The entrance fees to museums and tourist sites seem to cost considerably more than in Chicago. And, Russians love to charge extra fees for everything–they know when you’ll want to take a picture of something and before you can snap a shot, they tell you that you need to pay for a picture. For example, today we went to a street market and I wanted to take a picture of some mangled poorly treated dancing bears. (yes, i find it strange too!) However, I was told that I needed to pay 50 rubles to do that, so, you won’t be seeing a photo of any poorly treated Russian dancing bears at a street fair, I’m afraid. I am not sure how the Russians themselves afford food here. I understand that there are thousands of mafia groups and there are many who do have plenty of money, but the disparity is also obvious.

The hostel life is fabulous, and I remember why I love it so much. It’s always hit or miss with hostels and this one happens to be really great. They give us sheets, towels, air conditioned dorm style rooms with 4 bunk beds and shared bathrooms. On top of meeting travelers who have been to exciting places and getting ideas from their travels(I want to go to Dubai now!) I tend to become more self aware of my culture when talking to other people about their culture, finding out what countries their from, and explaining where I come from. I love that feeling and I am so proud to be Polish. I love that I can understand a good amount of Russian and I feel like knowing Polish has helped me in almost all of my travels. There is always a kinship felt when talking to people about their culture and explaining your own. On top of this pride I have in being Polish, I feel even more blessed being an American. I am proud of that as well, I am proud of the diversity of our country and that I am able to have friends who are of all different ethnicities and religions. I am able to travel more freely and have all sorts of extra benefits from living in such a diverse nation. I wrote a draft of this note by a lake today and I wanted to bring that up because it was a great experience. Sharon and I were actually trying to get to the market I mentioned earlier and got off at the wrong stop. Well, it was actually the right name of the stop, but the map was not updated and the original station name was changed.(speaking of which, the metro is beautiful here like it was in St. Peterburg, but I believe it’s more ornate here in Moscow) We ended up walking around that stop and discovered a large wooded park with many Russians enjoying the weekend. One of the funniest things was seeing all these Russians sunbathing in their underwear. At first we saw just a few, and then all these heads kept popping up in the fields of tall grass and as we kept seeing more and more heads, we just burst out laughing.

The hostel life is fabulous, and I remember why I love it so much. It’s always hit or miss with hostels and this one happens to be really great. They give us sheets, towels, air conditioned dorm style rooms with 4 bunk beds and shared bathrooms. On top of meeting travelers who have been to exciting places and getting ideas from their travels (I want to go to Dubai now!) I tend to become more self aware of my culture when talking to other people about their culture, finding out what countries their from, and explaining where I come from. I love that feeling and I am so proud to be Polish. I love that I can understand a good amount of Russian and I feel like knowing Polish has helped me in almost all of my travels. There is always a kinship felt when talking to people about their culture and explaining your own. On top of this pride I have in being Polish, I feel even more blessed being an American. I am proud of that as well, I am proud of the diversity of our country and that I am able to have friends who are of all different ethnicities and religions. I am able to travel more freely and have all sorts of extra benefits from living in such a diverse nation.

I wrote a draft of this note by a lake today and I wanted to bring that up because it was a great experience. Sharon and I were actually trying to get to the market I mentioned earlier and got off at the wrong stop. Well, it was actually the right name of the stop, but the map was not updated and the original station name was changed. (speaking of which, the metro is beautiful here like it was in St. Petersburg, but I believe it’s more ornate here in Moscow) We ended up walking around that stop and discovered a large wooded park with many Russians enjoying the weekend. One of the funniest things was seeing all these Russians sunbathing in their underwear. At first we saw just a few, and then all these heads kept popping up in the fields of tall grass and as we kept seeing more and more heads, we just burst out laughing.

Afterwards, we found the market, which was fantastic. I bought an amazing chess set and some Matryoshka dolls. We also took a tour of the Vodka Museum and had a nice tasting! We haven’t decided what we’ll do this evening, either stay in the hostel and play some games or go to a dance club. I guess we’ll see what the night will bring us! Tomorrow, we’re headed to a typical Russian bathhouse and then we’re headed to Suzdal to see the most churches per capita in that city. I am not sure when we’ll shower again after tomorrow, so I look forward to a good long shower before we leave! And, no, I haven’t had any cabbage yet, but I have a feeling I’ll be eating some soon! :o)

Afterwards, we found the market, which was fantastic. I bought an amazing chess set and some Matryoshka dolls. We also took a tour of the Vodka Museum and had a nice tasting! We haven’t decided what we’ll do this evening, either stay in the hostel and play some games or go to a dance club. I guess we’ll see what the night will bring us!

Tomorrow, we’re headed to a typical Russian bathhouse and then we’re headed to Suzdal to see the most churches per capita in that city. I am not sure when we’ll shower again after tomorrow, so I look forward to a good long shower before we leave!

And, no, I haven’t had any cabbage yet, but I have a feeling I’ll be eating some soon! :o)

1 comments
Anonymous
Anonymous

Hi DD,Very nice report.You keep me anxious to hear about your next adventure and I enjoy every detail of your travel.You are a good writer too. Keep it up and enjoy your trip!acca