St Petersburg’s setting on the wide Neva River along with the pretty Griboedov Canal easily lends itself to being compared with cities like Paris or Venice. But that would be inaccurate because this city very much has her own identity and is unmistakably Russian.
After a 70-hour journey from Vladivostok my train arrived in the Siberian city of Irkutsk early on a summer’s morning and I quickly found a taxi to take me to my hotel in the city centre. I arrived several hours before check-in and assumed I’d have to store my bags then walk around until my room was ready. Continue reading “Trans-Siberian Railway: Part II”
Despite the fact that I couldn’t read my ticket the helpful people at RealRussia who had booked my trains provided me with a detailed English translation. That sounds simple but these four pieces of paper covering my four legs of Russian rail travel ended up being some of the most valuable things I possessed on the whole trip because absolutely nothing else was in my own language. So I knew that I was in Carriage 10 on the Vladivostok to Novosibirsk train but as the huge locomotive stood at the station I just couldn’t figure out how to find that carriage.
When the Iron Curtain came down the world changed as did the course of history. It was a momentous event that I witnessed on television as a teenager along with millions around the world. Like many of my generation and the previous one, the threat of nuclear war had always hung over us and for me it had been a reality since I was born. Even in far flung New Zealand I had frequent nightmares about seeing a mushroom cloud from our farm and the ensuing panic as I realised we would all slowly die from radiation poisoning. So one of the things I remember most vividly when the Cold War ended was slowly coming to understand that the Americans and the Russians were now unlikely to blow each other up and destroy the rest of us in the process. It was an immense relief and had a profound effect on me. Unfortunately my nuclear holocaust nightmares didn’t stop until I was in my twenties when they were suddenly replaced by ones about plane crashes. It doesn’t take a genuis to figure out what those ones stemmed from.