After sightseeing in St. Petersburg, Katie and Evan catch the train from St. Petersburg to Novgorod and onward to Moscow, and take a lesson in vodka consumption along the way. It’s the ultimate Russian adventure!
Our daytime train from St. Petersburg to Novgorod was about four hours. On board we were able to sneak on a little wine and beer. Although it is it not permitted to drink on board, nobody else on the train followed the rules! I guess the saying “Out of sight, out of mind” goes for all the train attendants so we made sure we hid it. At one of the stops we made en route, Evan and I watched four men polish off a bottle of vodka in a couple of minutes. We couldn’t believe how they were able to do it with such ease! After seeing that we knew we had some practicing to do.
Novgorod was a real treat. Being one of the oldest cities in Russia, Novgorod is home to a magnificent museum where you are able to go inside old traditional Russian homes. I personally love museums that allow you to take a step back in time. At our hotel we took part in a traditional Russian banya (sauna). At first, my dad refused to take part but then I convinced him that if mum had to ride an elephant he had to get doused in cold water. I think Evan enjoyed it more than his traumatizing experience at the hammam in Syria. I even had a chance to give him a good beating with the branches soaked in boiling hot water!
Our overnight train to Moscow from Novgorod was great until we had to call it a night. Being the shortest of the group, Evan and I took the beds in aisle. They were extremely narrow and short, so every time I wanted to move I would startle myself awake because I felt like I was going to fall out of the bed. At one point we picked up new passengers and a lady walking by my bed, stopped where she was and put her bags on my face! Despite being a bit uncomfortable it was fun to be on a train.
We arrived at our hotel in Moscow at about five in the morning. Unfortunately the hotel had no rooms available to have a quick power nap before our day of sightseeing at the Kremlin and Red Square. However, we were able to stuff our faces at the breakfast buffet. The breakfasts here at the hotel in Moscow have been incredible. They had everything you could possibly imagine! I had feta cheese, salmon and bread every single morning. Mmm!
Seeing Red Square was definitely a highlight. I remember learning all about Russian history in high school but what I really cared about was seeing was St. Basil’s Cathedral in person. To me when I think about Russia I think about that church. I imagined it to be a bit bigger but it was amazing to be up clse to such a famous landmark regardless of its size. My dad was excited to visit the inside of the Kremlin and was very proud of himself of making good use of the facilities inside! What a crazy old man. I hope the washroom attendants had good air freshener!
Everyone in our group opted to take in the circus in Moscow. Before telling Evan I wanted to go I thought for sure he would make fun of me and my dad would want to pass, but to my surprise they both wanted to go and they seemed to enjoy every minute of it laughing and clapping along with the clowns. When we walked into the lobby of the circus they had all of the animals out on platforms for photos. In Canada you wouldn’t see animals involved in a circus to the extent they were involved in there. It was incredible to see animals perform though. There were so many kids there, I felt like such a big kid being able to buy my own popcorn and cotton candy. I didn’t even have to beg my dad to buy it for me but after the circus when we went for drinks I was out of money and had to beg for a beer!
Stay tuned for more Russian adventures from us. We’re off soon on the Trans-Siberian railway!
– Katie Powell