From Russia with Love
In August of 2016 I walked into Student flights to decide where I would go to in a years time. I was contemplating South America,
but was pointed in the direction of Russia, somewhere that has always interested me. I was at first a little hesitant to do the Vodka
Train, due to the fact that it was group travel, and I’m more of a solo traveller, and also because it veered into Mongolia and Beijing,
whereas I usually like to stick to a single country at a time.
Come June of this year, I jumped on a plane bound for St Petersburg, and my adventure began. Whilst I did book a group experience, I was quite relieved to find out that I was actually still by myself, as no one had picked to go on the dates I did.
My first destination was St Petersburg, formally known as Leningrad. I was staying in a little hostel right beside Nevsky Prospekt, one of the biggest in St Petersburg and very central.
St Petersburg is built upon many canals, and one of the locals informed me that it was designed to be like Venice.
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
Kazan Cathederal, one of my favourite’s in St Petersburg.
One of the most famous museums in the world, The Hermitage.
One of the main cathederals, St Petersburg allows visitors to climb to the top, yielding fantastic views.
St Petersburg felt very similar to Melbourne, it felt quite modern, and I found myself in many cafes and restaurants that felt like they belonged in Melbourne. Here I visited an Arts precinct that was similar to the parks around St Kilda Road and the Arts Centre.
There is an enormous amount of history surrounding St Petersburg, and they are very proud of the their efforts in the second world war. Here is The Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad.
On the way to the Monument, I got quite lost, but thankfully I stumbled upon this statue of Lenin.
On one of my last nights I was very fortunate to be taken to the Ballet.
On my final day, I caught a boat to Peterhof, a magnificent palace that is said to be the Versailles of Russia.
Now, time to catch the overnight train to Moscow. St Basils Cathederal, one of my favourite sites of the whole trip.
There are many awe inspiring buildings in Moscow. Here is one of the Seven Sisters, which are all over Moscow.
Just like St Petersburg, there are large monuments everywhere, many a homage to the Soviet Union. This is the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman.
Visiting a Nuclear Bunker, Bunker 42.
Moscow is known for it’s stunning Metro (train) stations, which are all Beautiful.
Time to board the Trans-Siberian for my journey to Lake Baikal and Irkutsk.
One of the many stations in Russia that I stopped at. I didn’t speak English for 5 days and the train was an interesting experience to say the least.
Whilst I saw many Stations, there was plenty of fantastic countryside.
Along the way I saw many kilometres worth of oil trains.
Next stop, Lake Baikal! An amazing lake, the worlds deepest at 2KM. Felt like I was somewhere in the Mediterranean. A great little lakeside village.
On my first night I hiked to the top of a hill to a great little viewpoint.
The next day I did a nice 22KM hike, on the Lake Baikal Trail.
After a few days it was time to head to Mongolia. I spent the day in Irkutsk, which felt like a smaller St Petersburg.
After about 30 hours of Travel, I arrived in Ulaanbaatar. Here is Chinggis Square, the seat of government.
Naturally, the further I travelled east, the architecture and sites changed dramatically. The Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan.
Zaisan Memorial, a monument to the Mongolian and Soviet soldiers who perished during the second world war sits on a hill over viewing the city.
It is adorned with incredible mosaics.
After a day it was time to head to the steppes. On the way we stopped of at the huge Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue.
I then travelled into Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, where I would spent two days camping in a Ger Camp.
It was a great change of pace and scenery, and was really tranquil.
Gunjiin Sum Monastery provided some magnificent views.
Last stop, Beijing. Here is Tiananmen Square.
I really loved Beijing, which I was not expecting to. Besides the almost unbearable July humidity, the city was wonderful. I stayed in a hutong that was wonderful, and really loved it. It was a highlight of a wonderful journey.
Thankfully better than the movie bearing the same name. A great section, and can still see miles ahead even with the clouds coming in.
We’ll keep the blue flag flying high!
The night markets were great to witness, though I don’t fancy eating fried scorpion.
The CCTV building is quite impressive.
I really loved the Temple of Heaven
The Forbidden City, situated just behind Tiananmen Squre is a huge complex and definitely a highlight of the trip.
It was a wonderful journey that I will never forget. Whilstt I was quite apprehensive about Mongolia and Beijing, they ended up being wonderful experiences. I highly recommend anyone thinking about going on this trip to do so. I also would like to thank Nick at Student Flights in Knox for his help with booking the trip.