Moscow to Tallinn
Rolling down the highway toward Prague, nestled in Hajji's boob, tapping this out on Paul's computer. Knew we had to catch up on the blog and keep you all satisfied. The trip is definitely on now, and it's getting tough to find time to sit and write, what with all the fun to be had otherwise...but you still need to hear about my and Ren's solo jaunt from Moscow to Rostock.
We got off the train in Moscow city and got right into the metro to head to the home of our Couchsurfing hosts, Dmitry and Elena and their 2-year old Jaroslav. So we found his building, but hadn't counted on him being at work all day. We were wondering what in the Sam Hell to do when a Russian lady walked up to us and started speaking French, seeing if she could help. She called Dmitry for us, figured out that he'd be home around 10pm, and then brought us up to her apartment where we left our bags for the day so that we could go see the town; turns out Russians are only terribly scary on the outside.
We met Dmitry and his family later that night, and they were amazing. So friendly and eager to accomodate us in any way. We told them that we wanted to catch an overnight train to St. Petersburg the next night, and so, at 11pm, after a long day working, Dima took me out in the pouring rain to the station to get tickets, trading jokes back and forth the whole way.
The next day was a juggernaut through the city, running this way and that, scoping all the scoops. Started off at the Red Square, the Kremlin, Lenin's Mausoleum, St. Basil's Cathedral...all that necessary mumbo. Then I super wanted to see the War Museum at Victory Park, so we went and ended up having lunch with all the hilarious rollerbladers striding around. That night, it was off to St. Petersburg.
Ren - that´s my girl.
SPb was more of the same, as far as Couchsurfing goes: our host Semeon was working until 11pm so Ren and I dumped our fat bags at the train station and danced down the boulevards of the prettiest city in Russia. Made it to the Hermitage, didn't go in, but the outside was just darling, then had an ice cream on the lawn and walked along the river...and actually bumped in to a Korean guy that we had met on the train from Ulaan Baatar...what a gentle soul that Asian was.
Midnight in St. Petersburg...so light!
Next day, Ren and I made it out to Peterhof, the Russian Versailles, in the drip drip of the rain. It was a sight for sure, even with the throngs milling around everywhere, with elaborate gilded roofs and gold fountains. Semeon took care of us after that, feeding us some tea and warming us up. It was really too short to spend in St. Petersburg, only 36 hours, cus it's such a delightful babe of a city, but we were happy to be heading to Tallinn.
We arrived in Estonia's capital earrrrrly, at 6am, and walked over to the next CSer's place. That day turned out to be one of the best of the trip: Sven took us to a friend's bicycle repair shop in the middle of an old Soviet industrial factory park, and we had a barbecue, drank beers, had laughs, saw a skate demo in the next factory, and took in the Estonian hospitality. There were actually two other CSers there - a German and an Italian - and the dynamic was dynamite.
Ivo and I, lover´s roll.
The following day was also a beauty, and our real host, Ivo, took us out on some bikes to see the famous old town of Tallinn. Man, that place is good. Chock-a-block full of timber houses lining countless cobbled alleys, Tallinn is known around Europe for having perhaps the most beautiful and well-preserved old town centres. The sun was shining and the bikes were riding smooth, even though mine was sans brakes. We spent a quiet night back at Ivo's place, as the next morning it was an early ferry that was to take us across the sound to Helsinki, and Finnish Anna.
Ivo and Ren momenting on the Parliament wall, overlooking the old town.