Saturday (21st) very early morning (04:40!) we arrived at Moscow station and were met by a driver who took us to our hostel. This was a huge relief as we were a bit drowsy after being woken at such an early hour to disembark. However once we got to our hostel, we found out that our booking was cancelled the night before and someone else was put in our room! Tired already, this made us quite irritable, as the booking had already been paid for! We were finally put into seperate dorm rooms for a few hours rest... needless to say we were not happy and have already sent a terse email to our organiser.
But anyway, not to let a mix up get us down we were up early for our 10am walking tour of Moscow. We met up with Archie our guide out the front of the hostel, which is conveniently located right near ... a short walk to most of the major Moscow sites. It was perfect weather and we had a great intro to Moscow with a bit of local input. We saw many famous Moscow sights including Red Square, the Kremlin, St Basil's, Gum shopping centre (a converted military training building right near Red Square), the Bolshoi theatre and heaps more. Along the way we asked Archie what the most popular foriegn cuisine was in Russia, and was surprised to hear that it is sushi! Once made aware we couldn't help but notice that it seemed every restaurant had a sushi menu...even restaurants that were Italian or Russian!
A rebuilt cathedral that we were not allowed in on our tour because we were wearing shorts.
After the tour we were able to return to our hostel to properly check in, have a bit of a rest and head out to do some exploring by ourselves. We wandered around locally and had a beer before venturing to Red Square in the evening. We grabbed some dinner at another popular Russian cafe inside the GUM store (at most Russian cafe/restaurants, you line up with a tray and pick the food you want as you walk along, kinda RSL/Cafeteria style, needless to say the food is OK, but not about to win any stars or hats). We then went outside to take in the night time atmosphere around Red Square, which was buzzing as there was an open concert going on right next to St Basils with techno music from Tiesto (UK DJ) blazing into the night! Quite a contrast.
Night time at St Basil's, down to the bottom right is the stage on the top photo
Sunday morning (22nd) we got up and went to Starbucks for a bit of breakfast. (Now, before anyone derides us for our choice of venue, the number one reason we went there was for the free wireless) So we were sitting around minding our own business with our iced coffees, when all of a sudden a guy near us next to the window starts fitting...He had previously been shaking but was now having full blown convulsions! We of course know no Russian other than the niceties so called over the staff, who then called another over, and then they finally called and ambulance. But in the mean time no one seemed to be doing anything for the poor guy! The guy was at this stage going rigid in his chair and still seizing, frothing mouth and all. We of course were in a bit of a panic but didn't really know what to do! However rather than stand around helpless (which is what everyone else was doing) we went over and as he was sliding down out of the chair, moved it and all other furniture away from him, so that he was lying on the floor free from obstabcles. At this stage we had no idea what else to do, the ambulance was on it's way but the poor guy was not doing well - he was semi-conscious and sort of spitting to keep breathing. At this stage some Scandinavian guys also started to try to help and suggested rolling him on his side, but the staff told us the ambulance people said not to touch him! Anyway it all ended OK, the guy slowly started to get back consciousness, but looked completely shell shocked. He looked like he had had no idea what had happened.
It surely made our morning cofee a bit more interesting but also made us feel quite helpless, we did what we could but realised we had no real idea what to do in that situation. (PM: Mum, maybe you could comment on what the correct course of action would be, we have speculated a bit but do not really know)
After our eventful morning we headed over to the pier to take a river cruise. Although the weather was not as good as the Saturday, it was still a very nice way to sit back and relax with a few beers and take in the sites of Moscow. The river goes past a lot of the major sites that we had already seen on our tour and from wandering around, so it was good to just sit back and watch it all go by. After the tour we made our way to Red Square on foot before having some food, beer, and dinner, and then got ready to head off on our next leg. A short train one this time, 8 hours overnight to St Petersburg. It is safe to say 2 days was not enough time in Moscow, but figure that this trip was more of a taster anyway.
On the boat with the no shorts cathedral in the background
The view of the Kremlin from the river
Next to a statue of Dostoyevsky, the author of Crime and Punishment which is the book that Joss is reading at the moment... and has been for a while.