Trans-Siberian - St. Petersburg and Moscow

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Trans-Siberian Trip
St. Petersburg and Moscow
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The Trans-Siberian
The Trans-Mongolian
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The Ger Camp
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For the first four days, we toured St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Immediately after landing in St. Petersburg (via Frankfurt), I got my first taste of the adventure that was to follow as I navigated the St. Petersburg bus and metro system with no language and minimal ability to decipher the Cyrillic alphabet. Fortunately, I was able to follow the instructions from Intrepid and arrived at the starting hotel with an hour to spare before the 6 o'clock group meeting.

After introductions, we went to a local restaurant for dinner. For evening entertainment, some of us went for drinks and a midnight cruise on some of St. Petersburg's canals and to watch the opening of the many bridges across St. Petersburg's main river, the Neva River. We staggered back to the hotel very late.

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Leaving Toronto
Lifting bridges on the Neva River

The next day, I spent a large part of the day touring the Hermitage Museum, one of the largest art galleries in the world. In addition to the Picasso's, Da Vinci's and famous European art, I was struck by the incredible building, the Russian Tsar's Winter Palace that now houses the museum.

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Inlaid wooden floors
Huge paintings

After the museum, I wandered through some of the streets of the St. Petersburg, then north across the Neva River to the Peter and Paul Fortress which was formerly a prison for political prisoners under the Tsars. It is now a tourist area and museum. I had an afternoon nap and then some of us from the group met for dinner.

Nevsky Prospect
Palace Square

Russian bear
Fortress warnings

The next morning we checked out of our hotel rooms but left our luggage in storage as our train did not leave until midnight. I walked to the Church on Spilt Blood and toured the incredible mosaics - hard to believe how much work it took to place the millions of tiny ceramic tiles to create the images.

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Exterior with ornate domes
Interior mosaics

I then toured the St. Petersburg railway museum that contained huge intricate models of bridges, steam engines, signal systems and other railway hardware. Unfortunately the museum charged five times as much for photography permission than for the basic entrance fee so no photos by me. I also checked out St. Isaac's Cathedral, one of the largest dome's in the world.

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St. Isaac's
Evening light on Nevsky Prospect

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Late in the evening, we all met at the hotel for the short taxi ride to the train station where we waited for our midnight departure. I slept for the entire trip into Moscow where we arrived at 8am.

St. Petersburg train station
Arriving in Moscow

In Moscow, we checked in at the hotel and then headed downtown by metro to visit the Kremlin - the fortified centre of the Russian government but for tourists consists primarily of churches. The group split up as people's interested in old churches differed. I wandered through Red Square, GUM - a huge shopping centre, and did some souvenir shopping. The group convened for dinner just outside Red Square which was memorable for the very enthusiastic waiter.

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Our 2000 room hotel
Russian guards outside the Kremlin

Tsar's cannon
St. Basil's Cathedral

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Buying matryoshka

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The next morning we hit the supermarket for noodles and crackers for our 4-day Trans-Siberian train trip. With our bags and food we boarded the train for the start of the journey to Siberia, Mongolia and China!

Boarding the Trans-Siberian in Moscow

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