Raining cats and dogs.
In a completely unexpected way, when I wake up, I see that rain has taken full control of my day. I’m not talking about some thin rain or a shower going to last one hour or two. No, this time the rain is here to stay. How beautiful! What to do then? I had in plan of doing a small excursion by walk to St. George’s Monastery but this way is basically impossible. I drink a couple of coffee in order to be fully awaken and after that I decide that the only reasonable think to do is to stay in the hotel room and work on my travel route trying to plan at least one or two weeks.
Defining my Russian route.
Yesterday’s experience with difficulties in finding a way to reach Moscow convinced me about the urgent need of planning my days in Russia, in the best way possible. In order to do it I need to put together all the available elements. First and most important one is the expiration date of my Russian Visa. Based on it I know already that I need to be in Ulan Ude, final destination of my Russian trek not later than end of June. I start to plot on a Google maps all the towns I would like to visit using two colours in order to represent two different levels of priority. Then, as a second tool, I open an excel sheet in order to write down possible destinations and how long it takes to travel from one to the next one. The third tool is going to be the Russian Railways Website. Now I have also an account and I can use it. Lonely Planet guide helps me when I need to decide among two locations. I soon discover that there is another constraint I didn’t have taken into consideration and it is that the availability of places (berths or sits) on the Trans-Siberian route is very limited. Searching on the web site I notice that in some day there are no place at all or just sits or maybe only the quite expensive 1st class compartment. One town after the other one, first draft route starts to be defined and, due to shortage of availability on trains, in parallel I also book what I can. At the end of my work I have more or less planned in detail next two weeks. After Novgorod I will go to Moscow, then Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Tobolsk, Omsk and Novosibirsk. Some nice place like Samara was canceled because out of the main Trans-Siberian route and some other, maybe not too appealing like Omsk was included also to give me the chance to rest a bit.
A better afternoon.
Quite satisfied for the achieved result, I decide to face the rain at least to go to eat something. As I’ve mentioned in my yesterday’s post, I’m right in the centre so it is not hard to find a place near by. Once I’m back to the hotel I have the feeling that maybe weather is going to improve soon so I start to work on this website keeping an eye to the window. After one hour, finally rain seems to have stopped and then I jump out. In 10 minutes I reach the tourist office to see how can I reach St. George Monastery by bus. There is one leaving in 5 minutes. In reality it takes 20 minutes before I can see bus #7A turning around the corner and reaching the bus stop but is ok. Of course when I arrive at the monastery rain has started again but now I’m here and then I keep walking around this peaceful place laying by a quiet pond. There are almost no tourists. The church that outside features a classical set of blue domes with stars inside has a quite peculiar plan and no frescos. About 600 meters far from the monastery there is Vitoslavlitsy, an open-air museum hosting wooden houses from the region. Is nice but it is hard to get nice picture with this weather. Good think is that when I get out I don’t have to wait too much for bus and so I can come back to the hotel quickly and prepare everything for the night train ride.
Night train to Moscow.
I arrive at the railways station one hour before train’s schedule so to have enough time to eat something in a small restaurant nearby. This is my first night train in Russia and many others will come, some of them already booked. In the train I have a place in four berths compartment but one is not occupied yet. Everything is arranged in a very rational way so it’s easy to store the luggages and also the berth seems to be very comfortable. However it is too early for me to sleep even if I know that tomorrow I must wake up very early so I decided to let people sleeping and go to the restaurant for a beer. Some people is eating but most of them are just drinking like I do. I spend a couple of hours in this nice place, sitting at a table while Russia is flowing behind the window pane and the relevant little tent. Now it’s really time to sleep, tomorrow when I will wake up I will be in the fantastic Moscow. And while I sleep, you can take a look at the gallery of Novgorod.