We arrived in Moscow at 1am after a long 83 hours on a train from Irkutsk. We took a very expensive taxi (just don’t even bother taking taxis in Russia!) to Bear Hostel on Mayakovskaya, where we checked in for three nights. I hated this hostel. It was filled with stinky Russians who lived there and their crap was everywhere: under our bunk bed, hanging from our bunk bed, hanging from every hook in the rotten broccoli-smelling ladies shower room, etc. I woke up one morning to find a guy digging under my bed. Creepy. The dorm room had a constant BO stench that never went away. When we got there all I wanted to do was wash clothes but the washing machine was broken and no one could ever give me an exact answer about when it would be fixed (we ended up being able to wash clothes the next night, thank God). There were no lockers or any other security measures to keep your valuables safe, the beds were squeaky and worn out, and there was no alcohol allowed. WTF? I could go on but this place sucks and the bottom line is: Don’t stay there! Unfortunately before my camera broke, this was the only pic I managed to take…
Needless to say, I was not happy on my first day in Russia. So, Daniel and I didn’t do much other than go souvenir shopping on Arbat Street. Highlight of the day: A delicious Frosty at Wendy’s! (Sad, huh?) Shortly after that my camera broke, which is when I got really upset. 😦
I was determined to have a better time on our second day in Moscow. We went to the Kremlin (not inside because we’re too cheap) and St. Basil’s Cathedral. St. Basil’s is gorgeous!! We wanted to see Lenin but his tomb appeared to be closed and under construction. (All of the following photos are from Daniel’s camera.)
On Thursday we took the train to St. Petersburg, where we checked into Soul Kitchen Hostel for our last three nights in Russia. It was definitely a step up from our crappy stay in Moscow! The staff were extremely helpful and the dorm room was spacious and clean. Great location right next to the train station and the main street (Nevsky Prospect). Lots of friendly fellow travelers to meet. Everything you would want from a standard hostel, plus free laundry, breakfast, and international phone calls!
On Saturday we walked down Nevsky Prospect to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Another gorgeous cathedral! Next we wandered down to the Hermitage, but chose not to visit (I’m not one for stuffy art museums and was kind of “over” sightseeing after five weeks!). We did come across the United Buddy Bears in a garden across the street though. So cool!
On our last day we went to the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. The way Lonely Planet described it made it sound really interesting: a “ghoulish collection of monstrosities, notably preserved freaks, two-headed mutant fetuses, and odd body parts”. But inside the exhibit there was a sign saying that the original collection had been destroyed in a fire and that what was displayed were replicas. And they were poorly replicated… Very fake-looking. Disappointing!
This morning we got on a plane back to America. We had an overnight layover in Warsaw and we are now at the airport Novotel watching the Euro Cup. Can’t wait to be home tomorrow!