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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Russia, Motorcycle & Ardennes

A trip to Russia with my dad, my new Triumph Street Triple R and a trip to the Belgium Ardennes

Ever since I was in university I promised myself to take my dad out for a trip somewhere cool as soon as I started making some money. Once he mentioned he would love to see Moscow and St. Petersburg. Knowing that my mom would never want to go visit those places and I would love to go see them I decided to take him there. We managed to keep it a secret up to his birthday which added to the fun! Unfortunately, due to a mistake from me, we missed our original flight and left a day later...

Arriving on the 17th in the evening we checked into our hostel and went our for some first sightseeing.
Russia the way we know it. Always in need for a map :-)

After some walking around we found a nice bar, had some beers and went back to our place where we ended like you should in Russia: with caviar and vodka!!!

The next day was planned for a trip to the Hermitage. I found out it was International Museum Day so we could get in for free :-) (we are and will always be Dutchies...)! A visit to St. Petersburg has to include going to the incredibly large and impressive Hermitage and I must say it is worth every penny (when you do actually have to pay the entrance fee ;-)

Gold Room...

But there is more! I can impossibly post all the pictures of huge buildings we saw, but you have to take my word for it!

Peterburg is the original Summer Palace of Peter the Great and is a nice day trip from St. Petersburg and my suggestion is to go! It's awesome!!! The amount of fountains are insane and the grounds are truly beautiful.

To end with a picture of some tasty Russian food and our hostel: The Apple Hostel.

On Wednesday we left with an early morning train to Novgorod. We took a small commuter train and it took about 5 hours to cover the 200km to Novgorod...

We had an entire day to spend in this town, but after a couple of hours we kind of were done... luckily for us the weather was absolutely fantastic so we joined the Russians at the "beach", enjoyed a beer and got a tan :-) But not after we joined the Russians for lunch in a great, local "cantine".

The night train to Moscow was pretty crappy. It was hot, the train was shaking a lot and they did not switch of the lights... nonetheless we arrived at dawn (read 6 AM) and had a whole day to explore this massive city. After checking in to our hostel we started with a tour of the amazing Moscow Metro Stations!

Then we went on to the Chruch of Christ our Savior and could enjoy a nice view towards the Kremlin.

The next day we scheduled a visit to the Kremlin! We knew this was the only day this week we could see the switching of the guards, so we wanted to be in time. Forgetting the size of the city and possible cues, we arrived late and I had to do some sneaking in line to get us in in time. But we managed!!

Afterwards we moved on to the Red Square...

Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy and the square was filled with some kind of sports fields so we never got to see this massive square empty. It was amazing nonetheless!

The GUM - The shop that was the only place people could go to to buy stuff...

At night we went back to see how the square is lit up. Pretty good job!

Of course I had to go back the next morning when it was all sunny to take some more pictures of the Red Square. Oh and I also visited Lenin's Tomb. He seriously looks like a wax candle...

The next day my dad decided he wanted to see something of the suburbs of Moscow and so we planned a visit to one of Moscow's many suburban parks. Again very, very nice!

On the way back we came across this park which is filled with "left-over" statues... pretty kewl! But besides one of these occasional awkward scenes, Moscow is clean and pretty and gives you a very safe feeling. one of the best parts is that drinking beer on the streets is allowed. So you see all these people walking around with half liter bottles of beer and enjoying themselves. I have to admit that we are guilty of joining them quite regularly in one of the many parks to enjoy a drink, the sun and the views.

And finally we made a stop at one of the super famous stores of Moscow. Looked more like a museum than a grocery store :-)

The way back home was a mess... in short: we rescheduled our flights a day later (due to the missed first day), due to this our visa were expired and they would not let us leave the country. Had to rebook again for the next day and show up in time for a day extension of our visa... All-in-all an expensive "joke", but we managed to get home! I had an amazing time with my dad and am very impressed by how well arranged everything is in Russia (well, in St. Petersburg and Moscow at least).

Back to something else. I got myself a motorcycle: a brand new Triumph Street Triple R - Matt Blazing Orange! And I am loving it!!!

Last weekend Shosh and I and some friends planned a short weekend-break in the Belgium Ardennes with some LandRovers. The weather was perfect and we had a blast!

That's all for now! More next time!


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