Dateline: Moscow, Russia
I made it to Moscow. And I made it to my hostel. I managed to take a nap. It’s 7pm local time now. I’ve updated my blog to reflect the local time for when i make the posts. I’ll see about adding a clock so you figure out what time it is here without doing too much math. Things on the agenda. Get food. Get money. Although not necessarily in that order. More posts tonight and maybe some pictures.
My friend, Eric Boyd, left this comment on my Facebook wall regarding my trip:
That should be a lot of fun. Watch out for Gypsies though. I’ve heard they like to break into train compartments and rob you blind. But I’m sure in your case they will try to unzip your suitcase and find themselves fighting for their lives against an army of death-ray wielding nanobots;)
They’re actually going to be sporting 1.21 jigawatt lasers, not death-rays.
After talking to Jeff the other week, I called up Mr. Staples (Jeff’s dad) to ask about what travel agency they used. Mr. Staples referred me to Mir Corporation. I took a look at their packages, and they’re quite expensive ($5,000 for 10 days), plus their dates don’t line up with mine. They did, however, have some very useful information on their website.
I’ve received my official invitation, filled out the visa application, and had my visa picture taken last week. Today I sent everything, plus my cover letter and a $131 check in the mail to Dad. Dad will add my passport to the set and drop it off at the Russian Consulate in Downtown Seattle. It will take no less than six days to process it, so here goes nothing.
- The Central Museum of Armed Forces1
70 ruble, or 30 ruble if I get the student discount, plus another 100 ruble so I can take photos
- Kremlin Armory Museum
700 ruble, or 200 ruble if I get the student discount
- Cosmonautics Memorial Museum
- The Polytechnical Museum at the Ilinsky Gates
- Moscow State University Zoological Museum
- Underground Moscow
Useful resources: http://www.moscow.info/
I also talked with my friend, Erin, who’s currently in Turkey. She gave me the low down on what’s what in Turkey.
- Istanbul (2 days-ish, Hackett did 4 days)
- Grand Bizarre
- Blue Mosque
- Ephesus (1 day)
- Cappadocia (1-2 days)
- Turkish Aerospace Industries2
Erin also says I need to :
- See a Whirling Dervish dance
- Eat GÃ¶zleme and Kanafeh3
- Read up on AtatÃ¼rk
- “Also, when in Turkey, you can’t miss out on a Turkish bath. Its a fairly odd experience at first, but you have to do it!”
Random thought, do I need a phone?
I’ve talked to the Russian Consular in Seattle, United Airlines, and a Russian man in Moscow with decent English.
I have a confirmed (but not booked) flight from Seattle to Dulles (UA916) to Moscow (UA964) leaving at 7:30am on June 2nd and arriving at 10:45am on June 3rd…15 travel hours later.
I also have the return leg booked (a la “Open Jaw” magic) from Frankfurt to Chicago (UA945) to Seattle (UA929) leaving at 8:25am August 3rd and arriving at 2:24pm August 3rd…13.5 travel hours later.
All for the low, low cost of $95.00 plus 105k airline miles 🙂
As for actually getting into Russia, the process goes something like this:
- Figure out dates to be in Russia
- Find hostel that will issue you a tourist voucher and confirmation
- Book hostel and acquire tourist voucher
- Fill out Russian Visa application form
- Turn in original passport, a xerox-copy of it’s vital pages, the original tourist invitation voucher, one passport size picture of applicant (that would be me), a cover letter explaining who is going, where to, when, and with what purpose
- Pay $131.00 for 6 day processing (cheapest)
I currently still think it’s worth it to go to Russia. But there sure are a lot of hoops to jump through. I currently have an email into the HM Hostel Moscow (US$36.05/night) in Moscow and I may end up contacting the Olimpia Hostel (US$17.35/night).
Progess is being made! I’m calling this Itinerary v0.2. It appears that the only country that will need a visa is Russia. Thus, I’m going to going to start my travels there since it will have to be the most planned part of this trip. I talked with Jeff last night, as he had traveled to Russia several years ago, and got some good information on places to go. I’m hoping to have trip start and end dates locked down and reserved by the end of March, along with all the Russian parts locked down and reserved.Â
I also talked with Quinn and Charlie, both of whom have indicated they would at least be interested in doing some traveling with me as well. I have calls in to Katelyn and Erin, both of whom have been and are currently in Turkey, respecitvely.
Below is a list of places that I think I would like to visit, in roughtly the order that I would visit them. I’ve also added notes (mostly to myself) about things I’d like to do there. I think this seems like a more managable list than previously. I’m also trying to setup a framework of things to do, however still allow the trip to progress organically.
- Day 1:Â
Dulles, Washington, DC
- Airplane/10 hrs/UA964
- Day 2: Moscow, Russia12
- Red Square
- The Kremlin
- Airplane/1.25 hrs/$60 USD/Rossiya – Russian Airlines3
- Day 6: St. Petersburg, Russia45
- Bus/6 hrs/â‚¬30 ($40 USD)/EuroLines
- Day 10: Tallin, Estonia6
- Paris, France (Paris Air Show – 15 to 21 June 2009)
- Toulouse, France7
- La Barre, France8
- VÃ©lizy, France9
- Bidos, FranceÂ ((787 Production Stop: Messier-Dowty))
- Rome, Italy
- Venice, Italy
- Grottaglie, Italy10
- Agnone, Italy11
- Arbon, Switzerland
- Interlaken, Switzerland12
- Czech Republic
- I’ve heard you can visit Chernobyl…could be cool.
- Germany -> Seattle (UA8718)
- Denmark->Seattle (UA9394)
After months of plotting, I think I have a possible itinerary. I’m going to call it Itinerary v0.1. It’s basically a version of The Lonely Planet’s Behind The Old Iron Curtain in reverse.
- Seattle, Washington
- Paris, France
- Berlin, Germany
- Moscow, Russia
- St. Petersburg, Russia
- Tallinn, Estonia
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
- Berlin, Germany
- Seattle, Washington
A quick glance at the math yields 21 countries in 60 days, or about three days per a country. I still think this is a little fast, so I will be whittling this down to hopefully 15 countries or less (4 days per a country is a bit better, I think). The entire Behind The Old Iron Curtain trip is supposed to take 2-3 months, according to The Lonely Planet, with a budget of €30-50 per day. Currently, this would be $38-63 per day. Or up to $3,800 for 60 days. This is definitely within my budget. Although I don’t think that includes transportation. Still, I think things are looking pretty good.
I also checked United and A) I definitely have enough frequent flier miles; and B) it will only cost about $60 to book the US to Europe part of the flight.
Now, at this point you may be wondering why I want to tour former Eastern Bloc countries. Two words: Cold. War.
A little know fact about me, if I had to be a history major, my area of expertise (I’m assuming history majors have these) would be the Cold War. I think the Cold War was amazing for a variety of reasons. Two super powers on the brink of self-annihilation. Covert operations. Incredible leaps in technology that we’re still taking advantage of today. The list goes on.
There’s a still a lot to figure out though, including, but not limited, to: A shorter list of countries I’d like to visit. Medical Insurance. Theft Insurance. Visa for Russia (and possibly other countries). A travel partner (for at least some of the trip).