dimanche, janvier 16, 2011

Tuesday, December 21rst, 1:00pm, Beijing (China)

Dear Blog,

I have finished my journey now but I still have things to write about Vladivostok.

While I was not writing I went to see the Mermaid Statue of which I took a picture: 

And I also went to see the monument in the honor of Admiral Makarov, a commander in the Russian Navy and a scientist. His name was also given to one of the biggest icebreakers in the world.

And finally, Saturday I went to eat in the famous restaurant, Nostalgia. As soon as you come through the door you can  see all the paintings and portraits of  ancient tsars, the plush red seats that stand out. I can't remember exactly what I ate there but I can remember I ate a russian cabbage soup, and pelmenies. 

And then I went to the Café Monmartre to get a hot chocolate and a little treat. Mmmh!!

Now you must be wondering why I'm in Beijing. Actually I just wanted to visit a small part of the country so that is why I am here and I have a friend of mine who lives here so I'm staying a few days at her house.

I've finished my blog now so thank you for your attention. ;)

Friday, December 17th, 5:00pm, Vladivostok

Dear Blog,

I'm finally in Vladivostok, but I have not finished my journey yet, I still have a lot of things to visit. I'm am right now staying in the Primorye Hotel for $99 per night.

Yesterday, I went to visit the Church of Our Lady's Dormition wich is located just under the Golden Horn Bay Bridge. It was built in 1876 by the neighbouring Cathedral of the Dormition as a facility building but later was converted in an Orthodox Church.

I also went to see the Triumphal Arch. It was originally built in 1891 in honor of Tsar Nicholas II but was then blown up by the Communists before being rebuilt in 2003. 

I went to see the Egershel'd lighthouse which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Although it is not huge and you can't go inside, it is worth a visit. I walked right out to it because the ocean was frozen and I could see the ferries pass by very close to it. 

Well... this is all for now. I'll be writing to you soon. 

samedi, janvier 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 15th, 4:00 pm, On my way to Vladivostok

Dear Blog,

I'm on the train on my way to the end of my journey. I've seen many more things since the last time I wrote to you.

I went to see the Savior's Church, one of the most beautiful churches located in th most historical place in Irkutsk. It was built in 1706 and it measures 42 meters high. 

I also went to see the eternal flame located next to the Savior's Church. It is dedicated to the unknown soldier lying under it; in his the grave. He is an unidentifiable soldier killed in World War I.

And finally I went to see the Lenin Statue at the end of Karl Marx Street located in a small park. There are a lot of them all around the world. Well... I guess that's it for now!

Like you've heard I'm back on the train with a new cabinmate named, Olga. She was born in Moscow but now lives in Rome. She's nice but I don't like her that much... I don't know why.

Monday, December 13th, 3:00pm, Irkutsk

Dear Blog,

It's -29°C outside and I'm still freezing to death! I've pratically finished my journey now but I still have a day and a half to visit Irkutsk so it's ok. I'm sleeping in the Baikal Business Center Hotel for $58 a night. 
At lunch time I went to eat in the Russkaya Chaynaya restaurant and I ate a crab salad, a blini with  smoked salmon and eggplant and a Black Russian Cake with chocolate, vodka and liquor in it. Mmmh... Delicious!! I'm sorry I didn't take a photo of it but it was cool!

So first of all, yesterday, I went to see the Bogoyavlensky (Epiphany) Cathedral. Apparently the first epiphany Cathedral was built in wood  by the citizens of Irkutsk in 1693 but was then destroyed in a fire in 1716 so they built another one in stone and then in 1815 they built a belfry and installed the biggest bell in Irkutsk which weighs 12 tons.

I also visited one of the most popular train stations in Russia. It is huge and has a very nice pastel color. This is where I got off the train yesterday. It was built in 1898.

And of course, I went to see the Lake Baikal which the world's deepest and oldest lake and the second most voluminous one after the Caspian Sea. It is 636km long and 744.4 meters deep, it also contains 20 percent of the world's fresh water. 

mardi, janvier 11, 2011

Saturday, December 11th, 9:00am, Novosibirsk

Dear Blog,

We're in the Novosibirsk stop where people are getting on and off the Transiberian. Outside I can see people on the platform selling crepes and tea cakes so I hurry to go get a little treat before the train goes off. I get two sugar crepes and half a dozen of tea cakes for me and my cabin mate (I haven't told you about her yet!). So I give a tip to the woman who is freezing outside so that she can earn enough money for the day and then I quickly get on the train arms full and head to my warm cabin. I knock on the door so Irina (My cabin mate)  can let me in. She thanks me a lot.

Irina from part Russian, part French, part English. She lives in Omsk but was born in London. She is getting off in Vladivostok to see her mom who had a car accident and will probably die of her injuries. She is  a very kind  and gentle person.
 The train starts to go now so I sit down. Those crepes and  walnut tea cakes are delicious! This early morning I was a little bored so I had a sudden inspiration:

I stand here,
There is nothing on the horizon,
Not a mountain,
Nor a house,
Nor a tree,
Just plain blankets of snow.
A field,
An ocean,
An entire planet of snow.
I stand here,
As I am trying to find my way,
Through those tiny pieces of torn paper,
Falling above me, while I walk,
'til they bury me completely until I can't breathe.
I stand here,
With no one beside me,
No one to help.

Wow! I just looked out the window and saw two artctic foxes  playing in the snow... they were so cute. I had  time to take a picture:

They're so cute! Magnificent!I  don't even have the time to write all of this down because I can see a whitetail deer!

What vegetation!  Irina and I are amazed. It's not everyday that you can see those wild  animals.

I learned some other facts today: there are big climate problems in Russia. Apparently 10,000 people die because of floods, storms, typhoons and hurricanes. The heat in Moscow and other cities has reached 44°C which has caused major fires in the cities. 

I also learned about the economic inequalities in Russia: the average salary in Russia is $640 a month and approximately 13.7 percent live below the national poverty line. The economic inequalities in Russia are huge.

I also learned that Russia has a rich country history in arts especially when it comes to literature, cinema, ballet, architecture, etc... which have an immense influence on the world culture.

And finally I learned about the secret police in Russia. The first secret police in Russia was the 'Cheka' (ЧК) created by Vladimir Lenin after the Russian Revolution on December 20th, 1917. The members of the Cheka were called chekists. Chekists of the years wore leather jackets creating fashion in the country. 

samedi, janvier 08, 2011

Friday, December 10th, 14:00pm, coming near Omsk

Dear Blog,

I'm back on the train now. Now, I need to get to Irkutsk...I'll be there by Sunday. 

I've visited a lot of stuff since my last post but I still slept the Atlantic Hotel. 

I visited the Ganina Yama which is a forest near Yekaterinburg. It's the forest where a pit was built to secretly throw away the bodies of Nicholas II of Russia and his family when they were murdered on the night of July 17th1918. Seven chapels were later  built at the site, one for each member of the royal family. Each chapel is dedicated  to a particular saint.

I also visited the house of Sevastyanov also known as the House of Trade Unions. It was built by Nikolay Sevastyanov, a rich merchant in Russia. It is a magnificent estate.

I went to the statue of  the founders of Yekaterinburg, vasily Tatishchev and Georg Wilhelm de Gennin. It's situated next to the House of Trade Unions.

Sorry for the quality of the image

I went to eat in the Medvezhya Pad which is a family restaurant where all the dishes are cooked in the traditional Russian way. There is very good atmosphere but it is a bit expensive. I ate wild duck over there but you can also eat wild bear and I also ate a rasberry Pavlova and pickled mushrooms accompanied by a small glass of vodka.

samedi, janvier 01, 2011

Wednesday, December 8th 16:00 pm, Yekaterinburg

Dear Blog,

It's been a day since I'm in Yekaterinburg and think Yekaterinburg is fabulous. Yesterday night I slept in the Atlantic Hotel for 2.734 Roubles (= 67€). Right now its -10°C outside and I am still freazing, my hands were shaking.

I have eaten at lunch in a restaurant named the Sani which is a peculiar restaurant. In the brochure they say there is a banya (Баня) which is a bathhouse supposedly designed for washing body and soul relaxation. After washing in the banya I ordered a massage and a milk bath. When  finished I tasted a delicious fish soup and Russian kvas(= russian bread based sweet drink) with russian teacakes and a russian torte. Hmm, delicious!!  

Sorry for the quality of the image
And for breakfast I ate bagels and cereal at the hotel.

I visited The Ural State Technical University which is very big and kind of cool. It looks like  the Pantheon in Ancient Rome. I heard that it was the biggest technical institution of higher education in Russia. Its motto is " Brilliance creates work", I think what the motto says is actualy true.

I also visited the Church on Blood which is a Russian Orthodox church built between 2000 and 2003 so it's all new and very nice inside. It is dedicated to the Romanov family because it was built on the site, where the Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and other members of his family were executed.