Finally, finally an update. It has been very difficult to reach internet and to save some time for the blog.
Week one survived! I acheived these things:
- Getting a russian simcard and getting it to work propperly after 3 days.
Ahhh communication! When i arrived it was dreadful. My swiss mobile phone would not work. I got out of the bus and didnt really know where i was, somewhere in St. Petersburg. I finally found some other tourists and asked. Then i was desperately trying to find a payphone. NIET! Impossible. I even asked in Russias only tourist information (true!) and they told me to simply get a simcard. For communication, i walked along Nievsky Prosket and tried to find people who could lend me their phone to write sms to my host. After about 30 min that worked, some young russian guys helped me. That per se is amazing as i look like a vagabond and if you know about the russian dress code for women, its a nightmare. If not wearing high heels, you dont get any attention. But i only found out about that later.
- Finding the correct train station!
Thanks to my polish HC friends. And finding the ticket box thanks to a russian man, who talked some german! Amazing! German, i couldnt beleive it as i thought english would be easier NIET! again. Ha ha. Nobody speaks english here. Almost nobody. Buying a train ticket: thanks to my 2 hosts. One told me how its working and the other one wrote down the necessary words for buyinig it. Queueing is an art in Russia. Forget all your ideas about queuing in western world. This is Russia, anything is possible. But i managed, after under 1 hour of queuing, thats probably a new world record for a tourist. Russians do not queue like anybody else in the world. NIET! The go to one queue and then reserve the space. Then, they go to another queue and reserve a space again. And so on, and so on. Eventually, they will just pick then fastest place they had reserved.
- Being hosted by Anton Krotov. A crazy round the world traeller. By chance, through my host we ended up staying in that appartment. all the walls are papered (literally!) by articles about his travels. One shelf for photos about his travels. And one corner in the apartment for the books he wrote. He is also selling them. Unfortunately in russian only. Otherwise i would have bought one.
- Riding electritschka. Thats the russian suburbian train. Its slow, but funny. We climbed up the train station. Yes, climbed because we didnt want to pay. Thats what most of the people do. Then they just bribe the conductors. We made it 3 people from St. Peter to Moscow in about 12 hours, on 3 different electritschkas, spending 200 rubles all together (about 9CHF).
- Finding out a little bit about russian culture. Russians often make something up if they dont know what to answer to a question of a european. But its hard to tell if they are lying. So you spend ages asking the same to different people and then still you dont know the truth only until you are in the middle of it. They would say that its not possible to go to one place by electritschka because a) they have never been and b) they want to save you from disaster. They will feel much better afterwards because they saved you. But for an european its a disappointing experience. Let me tell you about how i found out about what to see in Moscow:
I asked my host and she said i should ask the other travellers here since they were all very experienced and from Moscow. That sounded evident. So i did that. The answer: "Many things" and he ran to the kitchen.. I asked the next person (an ukrainian, sorry Andrej) and he started about registration and all that. He told me that its very important and bla bla bla... so after one hour i still know nothing about the sights of moscow (except that there is no tourist information in Moscow) and since i dont have any idea where to get information from, i whondered around aimlessly. Saved one more person from good experiences!
That week was a cultural shock. But what i didnt know, i had only been in the most civilized plaes of Russia. After all i stayed in good health, was strong and alive, and still without diarrhoea! (the latter one was about to be changed, a dreadful imagination as toilets in Russia. NIET! Do NOT use them....
Important: The pictures here are only from St. Petersburg!!!