Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Vladimir and Suzdal

As I said in the previous post I awakened at 5:30am had a quick breakfast before grabbing my over night bag and heading off to Kurkskaya metro station to meet my friends for our mini adventure to two towns about 3 hours train from Moscow. Despite not entirely knowing if it would be possible to stay in the hotel we wanted we decided to set out anyway and if it was not possible simply return later that night on a late night train.
After three hours on an electritchka full of Russian people we arrived in Vladimir cold and tired but in one piece and surviving only one minor incident where a woman wanted to sit next to me and because I was asleep decided to poke me as hard as possible between the ribs, as I was only half asleep I didn’t react and decided to play possum and make her stand until her stop as punishment.
We decided it was best to have a quick look at the train times then head to the hotel so that we knew the times in case we could not get a room. It was not a surprise to find that the hotel had not received our reservation and we had to check into a twin and a single room instead of a room for three people. This problem was quickly resolved by moving the bedding and mattress from the single into the twin when the maid and security staff were on a break.
Being hungry after the long trip we headed to a restaurant serving business lunch for 150r and then took a look around the town. This was done in stages as the temperature was -11 and there was a strong wind, we took some pictures around the main churches then headed for some hot chocolate to warm up before we made our way back to the hotel Zarya to relax and sleep before heading off to Suzdal.
Our hotel was interesting to say the least, it turned out that we would have had to move the bedding into the twin anyway as the window in the single did not shut completely and being as it was then -12 outside there was no way one of us was sleeping in there. We also discovered that we had no hot water except in the shower, toilet paper could not be put down the toilet and that even though the heating was on the only was to stay warm in the room was to dance to the music videos on Muz TV then wear hats and scarves while in bed. We decided to put this one on the experiences list and just move on.
The next day was spent in Suzdal a small town about an hour from Vladimir and four hours from Moscow after waiting for half an hour at the bus stop we were on the tiny bus to Suzdal, this trip once again goes on the experiences list. As we were driving along the driver’s door kept opening by itself, the seat Becky and I were sat on moved every time we braked or of us moved and the engine nearly stalled every time the road changed gradient.
It was worth it once we arrived in Suzdal centre and began our excursion by looking at the wears in the Bab market in the centre it was the usual stuff- matroshkas, mittens, hats, magnets etc but it was still interesting to look at to avoid freezing, it was -17 here, I bought a new pair of woolly mittens from a lovely little old woman with gold teeth.
Our excursion to Suzdal was short mostly because the place is tiny and the only things to look at were the market and about 8 churches, that and it was -17 and it was hard to stay outside for more than about 30 minutes without freezing. I still have failed to work out why it seems in Russia that even the tiniest town will not have one church but usually three or four, it’s not as if they are offer a different dogma as they will all be Russian Orthodox.
Having had enough of freezing in Suzdal we made our return to Vladimir, first by taxi to the bus station, our bus had already left so we smiled sweetly as another taxi driver and were driven to Vladimir for 500r. This was much better than the bus as we got to listen to modern music, have the heater on full and sit on a seat that was not going to fall to pieces if the driver braked too hard.
After a three hour train journey to Moscow sitting on a bed in Platskarta with a couple of lovely old Russian people who thought it was wonderful that we were from England and found it amusing that we were cold in Russia we returned. Becky and I got bored on the trip and started rating the men on appearance and madly drinking tea to keep warm. This was a brilliant experience and I would strongly recommend that anyone travelling in Russia should visit these two towns but not stay in the Hotel Zarya if it’s winter unless you like being very cold or you have an amazing hot water bottle.

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