The first steps of our journey around the world led to Russia. Given that we only had 30-day visas and Russia offers a lot to see, we planned our trip and stops on the Trans-Siberian railway in advance. Getting tickets for this legend last minute is not just like that. At the beginning, we visited two cities with Kremlin – the first one was red, the other white.
Afternoon in Moscow
The capital of the Russian Federation welcomed us with a hot summer day, and its inhabitants made it even warmer at the baggage claim. They obviously hurried a lot, our backpacks circled the belt twice before we finally reached them through a crowd of people. However, we spent more time at the airport as we needed to buy a SIM card at the Megafone mobile operator office. The one on the ground floor reported a lunch break and referred to a branch on the first floor, but there we found a sign “I’ll come in a minute, turn to colleagues on the ground floor.” Well, we did not mind waiting, we had schnitzels.
We finally got out of the airport and the Aeroexpress train took us to the center of Moscow. We passed the street sellers of toys, food, newspapers and SIM cards! and headed for a short tour of the city’s main attractions. In Gorky Park, we cooled our feet in a fountain, passed through a promenade along the river under the statue of Peter the Great, and went to Red Square. Photo of Lenin’s tomb, photo by Basil, a photo of the red wall of the Kremlin. Although Moscow offers plenty of cultural and historic sites, I am also in the Petersburg team and the Venice of the north have a more prominent place in my heart. At the main square of Moscow, we were most attracted to GUM. From a distance, the security guard at the oldest shopping mall shook his head, “Backpacks down and open the pockets.” Although the scanner in my backpack screamed like hell, the guard let us in so we can enjoy the Russian cuisine. On the first floor, there is Stolovaya No. 57, where we picked up local specialties.
After dinner, we slowly headed for the Kazan Train Station, where we had the first train transfer. Transsiberian Kilometer 0 can be seen at the Leningrad Railway Station, but we couldn’t enter without the tickets. The platforms in front of the train occupied refugees on their carpets, which would not have surprised us in the center of Europe, but it was an unexpected sight in Russia.
White walls of Kazan
When the city of Kazan is mentioned, the Russians are usually all “ahh” and “ohh”, so we were quite curious about the center of Tatarstan. But when we got out of the train, we had a suspicion that the night train took us to southern Europe instead of a city in the middle of Russia. Temperatures attacked 40 degrees, our buttocks were leaving greasy stains and just as we left one shadow, we were already looking for another. Fortunately, the white Kazan Kremlin, which is just like the Moscow’s one in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is not far from the station. There are many historic temples and a mosque behind its walls, which makes it a melting pot for Christianity and Islamism.
What attracted us besides the Kremlin, was the local Ministry of Agriculture, one side of which was a stone tree piercing into the walls. After a short walk along the Volga river, we headed to another Russian canteen and with full stomachs, hurried for the night train to Ekaterinburg.