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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Russia - 29 August, 2003

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Suzdal (Hotel Likhoninsky Dom) N5625.461' E04026.359' 114 meters .
Vladimir train station N5607.847' E04025.287' 102 meters 40 km (by taxi)
-  Tour city . . . .
Vladimir train station N5607.847' E04025.287' 102 meters .
Finish Aboard Train #059 -  Volga (Vladimir to St. Petersburg) . . . .

Total (by train):

12,336 km

Total (Mongolia):

2,880 km

Total (Kamchatka):

1,339 km

Total (other):

1,074 km

Total:

17,629 km

 

Weather: Partly cloudy, occasional sun, cool and windy.

 

 

We have a relatively early start as we are heading back to Vladimir today.  We have asked the hotel to book us a taxi to take us there.  So, after we have breakfast, we grab our bags and check-out of the hotel.  The Italian couple that we have met will be joining us for the ride to Vladimir.  The taxi turns out to be a very small, old Russian car that has certainly seen better days.  We can barely stuff all of us in, but in the end we do with a number of bags sitting on our knees.

 

We leave at quarter to 10, and the ride takes a bit over a half an hour.  We ask to be taken to the train station.  After we are dropped off, we head into the building to try once again to change our tickets.  But this time, we have a secret weapon - namely the help of our new found friends who speak pretty good Russian.  It is amazing, after a short wait in line, we are able to accomplish in less than half an hour what has alluded us so many times.  They clearly want to dissuade us from making the change - they mention a number of times how much it will cost us to change the tickets and try to persuade us that it is not necessary.  But we are persistent and as we can now understand what they are saying, they cannot come up with any good reasons to turn us away.  In the end, the actual cost is much lower than the original estimate they gave us.  But it certainly was a lot of paper work - we can understand why they want to avoid doing it.

 

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So, once we have found the left luggage (down the stairs into the dark basement), we head off into town with our friends to do some exploring of this other famous Golden Ring city.  The train station is a good walk from the town center and it takes us some time and a bit of a climb up the escarpment to reach the main sights.  First we come upon the Cathedral of St. Dmitriy built in 1194-97 by Prince Vsevolod III.  It is a simple, single domed church of white limestone with the highlight being the hundreds of bas-reliefs covering the exterior walls.  The church is closed, so we are not able to view the interior.

 

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From here we walk along the edge of the escarpment behind the palace and get a view down towards the Klyazma river and the train station.

 

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We then come upon the Cathedral of the Assumption built in 1158-60 which at the time was the tallest building in Russia.  It is a beautiful church and we try to enter the church to view the frescoes that cover the interior walls and ceiling.  But we have arrived just when a wedding party is entering, and the priest keeps us out.  But we notice some other locals entering from a side entrance, so we enter by that means.  As with many Russian orthodox churches, it is dark inside, but that cannot hide the beauty of the paintings that cover the walls.  As we quietly walk around admiring the interior, we are regaled with the melodious sounds of the ongoing wedding.  There is singing and much chanting.  It is a small wedding party.

 

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Upon exiting the church, we discover another couple awaiting their turn at the wedding altar.  It must be Friday.  From here we wander down the main street to the other major attraction - the Golden Gate.  It used to serve as the gates to the city, but it is not not very golden nor very grand.  It stands forlorn in the middle of a traffic circle, surrounded by ugly modern buildings.  It is now time for lunch so we go and wander until we find a place with potential.  It is a small cafe and the food turns out to be acceptable.

 

We now have to part ways with our Italian friends.  They have a train to catch back to Moscow.  So, we then go in search of an internet cafe to quickly check our emails.  This turns out to be quite a struggle, so as we are getting cold, we decide to head back to the train station to get our jackets from our bags in left luggage.  We decide to grab one of the electric trolley buses that go up and down the main street.  We are not sure where it goes, but we hope it will take us closer to the train station.  After paying our nominal fare we sit down, only to be immediately engaged in a conversation with a drunk local.  He is very keen to help us and insists on showing us the way all the way to the train station, including a long walk down the stairs from the main road to the bottom of the escarpment.

 

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Once we have our jackets, we head back into town.  We had noted an internet cafe while on the bus, so we head back there.  After checking our emails, we continue our wandering.  We find a few souvenir shops where we end up doing a bit of damage (just as well, the prices turned out to be much higher in St. Petersburg and Moscow).  At around 6 PM we decide to have some dinner and the after a bit more of aimless wandering, decide to head back to the train station to catch our train.  Along the way we stop at a couple of food shops to pick up some supplies for the ride.

 

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Back at the train station we collect our bags (we had a bit of a hunt looking for the lady to open it up, during which Jacqui had the pleasure of a drunk peeing against one of the columns), and then sit in the main hall to await our train.  Lots of people are hanging around and a couple of policemen wander through checking the IDs of anyone who does not look like they are waiting for a train.  They ignore us.

 

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Our train finally pulls into the station just before 10 PM.  We grab our bags and head out to the track.  Our tickets confirm the train number and car, but do not list any seats.  We just hope they have some.  We hand our tickets, along with our passports, to the provodnitsa and, after a brief pause, she gestures for us to enter the train.  She yells something out to her colleague, who takes us to our compartment.  It is all made up and ready for us.

 

Train #059 - the Volga - departs a bit late from Vladimir - 1524/1225 - KM 191/9,098 at 10:25 PM.  This train originated from Nizhny Novgorod (formerly known as Gorky) and will take us to St. Petersburg via Moscow.  It is a nice train and we have a TV and all.  Just one minor problem - our neighbors are playing the Russian-dubbed Hollywood movies at rock concert volumes.  We just hope that it will a be a bit quieter towards bed time.

 

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After settling into our compartment we get ready to retire - change into our sleeper suits and then have a night cap of vodka and finally brush our teeth.  Fortunately, just as we are planning on going to bed, the volume on the TV next door is turned down.

 

After few hours, while we are sleeping, the train pulls into Moscow  - KM 0/9,298, technically the end of the Trans-Siberian train journey, but we will carry on up to St. Petersburg and come back to Moscow in a few days.

 

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