Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
124Trip End Feb 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
So sorry about the delay on updating our blog but we have been in the Mongolian desert and steppes for the last two weeks and had no (thankfully) Internet access. Hopefully we will catch up over the next few days. Sorry if we bore you with so many blogs coming at once!
So back to Yekaterinburg! Man it seems so long ago but in reality it was only 3 weeks back!
Our train from Nizhny Novgorod took about 20 hours. On the way to the train station we realized that we were in separate cabins! Oops, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Karen was sharing with a Bulgarian tour guide who has done the Trans-Siberian over 10 times. He gave us some good tips and helped us with the Provodinista's
Once we arrived in the city, we jumped on a bus towards our hostel. It took quite a while to get to the right area and it was getting dark. We got out and started looking about just as it started to rain. We were only there for a few minutes when a man came up to me and said "Europe/Asia?" (our hostel) and we said "yeah!" and he went "follow me". That was the only two sentences he said and we had no idea who he was. Anyhow, we followed along at a rapid pace and the area was getting darker and grittier. I was starting to think that he was dodgy and what would i hit him with if he started anything when we came to a sign saying EuropeAsia (albeit sprayed on a tower block!). Feeling a bit better we got in the world's smallest lift with him. It was rather cosy with the 3 of us and our 2 backpacks. Oh well, the porn pictures on the wall kept me entertained. Once we got to our hostel it turned out that he was the owner of the place! It was more of a homestay than a hostel and we were mighty relieved when we found out that we were not the only two staying there. Again in turned out to be another blessing in disguise as the two people we were sharing with were these 2 crazy American girls called Theresia and Jen.
We immediately made friends and decided to join them the next day on an independent trip to the Europe Asia border
We met Natalia the next day at the famous Mama's biscuit house....strange name for a place that sold no biscuits, but hey ho we're in Russia after all. Natalia was wonderful, a true free spirit who had just hitch hiked from Kazan to Lake Baikal (i.e. thousands and thousands of miles) as she was a student and could not afford the train ticket.
It was great to have someone who spoke Russian with us...she soon figured out the route we needed to take and off we went to the border. The journey there and back was definitely better than the destination. The place has a tiny monument (think of a miniature Eiffel Tower) with Asia written on one side and Europe on the other. It's also placed on the edge of a motorway..so much for setting. We created our own entertainment by experimenting with the self timers on our cameras and by chatting to the four or five wedding parties that came for the photo opportunity by the mini monument.
The journey back was slightly less straightforward
In the evening we got back to our hostel owner sitting in his underpants on his laptop! He reeked so bad the whole place stank. We were pretty puzzled by the hostelworld staff award hanging on the door (printed by himself, me thinks!) as this bloke provided more eeriness than a character in a David Lynch film. Luckily it was our last night there and the following day we set off on our short train journey of two days to Irkutsk, where you will next hear from us!
Peace and love,
Karen & Paul xxx