Our first steps in Asia!

Trip Start May 24, 2010
1
6
162
Trip End Jun 13, 2011


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Flag of Russia  , Sverdlovsk,
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We are now sitting on the train bound for Yekariningburg. Its a nice modern train, quite different to the old latvian train that took us to Moscow. It has power sockets and even a TV – but no channels to watch! We have a cabin with two bunk beds, but there is none in the upper bunks, so we have the cabin to ourselves. This is nice in a way, but a lot less social than the 'open plan' Latvian train.

We have now been on the train for 20 hours and the landscape is beginning to change from  plain boring forest as we start to get nearer the Ural mountains and the terrain becomes more mountainous and there are many lakes scattered about.

There has only been a few small stops. At the first there were many people on the platform selling glassware. Apparently there is a local glassware factory and the workers come to the station to sell off some of their wares. There was other things for sale as well, like vases, food, beer, vodka and even some stuffed rodents! 

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Arrived in Yekaterinburg. The center of town appears nice and modern. We walked around for a while looking for our hostel and then we realised that the street we thought the hostel was on was a street with a similar name. Turns out that the real street was not on our map. We asked some locals and they suggested we get on bus number 1 or 9 heading out of town.....so we hopped on the bus, showed the driver the address, to which she gave a vague nodding motion and mumbled some words in Russian.

After the bus had driven out of the city center and into something that looked like a suburb, the driver waived at us to get off. Some seemingly friendly students hinted in bad English that we should follow them to the hostel. After wandering for 5 mins it began to be clear that they were as lost as we were! By this time we were in a run-down residential area full of soviet-era tower blocks and small playgrounds. Many Russian people were sitting on picnic tables drinking vodka and beer.

This definitely didnt seem like an area to find a hostel. After the two Students asked for some directions and were pointed to go back where we came from we managed to find the address....but still no obvious sign of a hostel. After walking around the building we found the entrance and some small words painted on the wall that indicated that it was probably the right place. We thanked the students and gave them a couple of small swedish aquavit bottles. So far it appears that the Russian people are really helpful. Travelling in Russia is definitely a challenge!

We walked up seven flights of stairs and the owner of the hostel let us in.....it looked more like someone's flat than a hostel. This is not what we expected after booking through hostelworld.com. They then took us to another building where we were told our double room would be. Turns out to be an old lady's apartment. So we are sleeping in her spare room. We are surprised, but enjoying the 'dynamic' experience of travelling here. Good thing we get free internet though! :)

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Our first full day in Yekaterinburg and we decided the most important thing to do here is go to the Europe – Asia border. Without taking an expensive tour, we were told the only other option is to take a local bus number 150 from the station. After searching for 10 mins in the pouring rain we managed to find the correct bus stop, but after waiting for an hour, the bus had not shown. Not knowing what else to do, I asked a lady if she spoke English;- she was carrying a very expensive camera, so I thought the chances might be higher. Unfortunately not! But as we were the clueless tourists, she suddenly felt it necessary to help us in anyway possible. So she told us to follow her and took us across town on a tram, where she found us a bus going in the right direction. We were a bit bewildered, but we said spa-si-ba and got on. Outside town, on the motorway we came to the border! After getting off the bus we realised that there wasnt much to see, other than a dull cafe selling a few souvenirs and a monument marking out the border. So we took our obligatory photos and then pondered how to get back into town.

At the border we met the first tourists we have seen in Russia so far! Four Germans got out of their camper-van and told us about their 6 month trip driving through Russia, China and back through Khazakstan and other countries.

In the afternoon the sun came out, so we spent some time walking around looking at various churches, monuments and parks.

Tomorrow we plan to relax in parks all day and catch our train late in the night heading towards Irkutsk. Three days on the train... 

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Comments

Ilona on

Hi guys )) You are still alive, safe & sound! or at least it seems that way from your stories :) Hope you are enjoying your trip so far?
My main question is (obviously!) - How was Moscow? Did you enjoy it? Did guys entertain you well?
We miss you here! But hope you are having a great once-in-a-lifetime experience :)
xxx

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