BootsnAll Travel Network


Get up at six am, shower and dress, pack up and head out for the train. It is early in the morning, I have my money belt around my waist, my pack on my back and this is the final journey, the train to St. Petersburg. I give myself odds of around 50 / 50 of being allowed to cross the border without a hassle or a bribe. It feels almost unreal that the trip is finally drawing to a close; I feel like I have been doing this my whole life. I walk past the park along the lake in Toolo where the fragrance of planted flowers masks the scent of the homeless, still hiding away in slumber. Climb aboard the train to Russia. I take a status check: blister on foot has reappeared, water in watch has disappeared. Right knee hurts, legs and back sore but not too bad. Beard growing – electric razor has run out of juice. May have poison ivy, either that or warts, spots have appeared on thumb, forehead and left thigh. Toenails getting quite long. Running out of soap, and clothes smell. Other than that, all systems go. The train takes off, we ride for a few hours, then the announcement comes that we are nearing the Russian border. The train slows then halts, and a group of sneering people in uniforms board, striding disgustedly through the train cars. They collect passports and paperwork from everyone systematically, then disappear. I assume this is where the fun could conceivably begin. But astonishingly, they return a little while later and I seem to have the green light, stamps on everything and whoo hoo. The train remains at the station without moving, however. Soon comes another announcement that there is an electrical problem and that there will be a delay. The train gets hotter and hotter. People fan themselves, sweat visibly. “Could we get some ice?” one guy asks. “A woman is sick here.” We begin to feel like cattle in boxcars, sweltering as the sun beats down on the metal roof. But after an hour or so the train gets moving again, although the air is still off and it remains hot. I go and get myself a beer to celebrate my success at the border. I come back, sit down and watch the trees out the window. A pretty barefoot girl sits next to me, I watch her for a while as well. And suddenly, safe in the knowledge that I am securely within Russia, I am electrified, I feel like I am fifteen again, I am ready to take on the world, hop on one foot to Vladivostok, hitchhike to China, stowaway across the Pacific and hike it on home, I am invincible. Another few hours, and we pull into St. Petersburg. Sure enough, there are those crazy signs. I wander into the station cluelessly, surrounded by cyrillic. First I find a bank to change euros into rubles (based on the pictures on the wall). Coming out, a taxi driver offers me a ride in a cab, but I decide to be adventurous and try the metro. I get a token and descend on the longest, fastest escalator in the history of mankind into the subways, this thing burrows into the bowels of hell itself. (In fact, I read later that it is indeed the deepest subway system in the world). I know the line I need but not the direction, I guess and hop on. My guess is correct, and five stops later I transfer, guess again (2 for 2) and voila I am at Nevskiy station. I get out, the sun is blazing. I walk for ten minutes and after spinning around a bit, lost locally, I ask a few people for help in rudimentary terms and finally find the hostel. The Nord hostel is a great little place here, an upgrade from most of the other hostels, free towels and bed sheets, free internet, free breakfast, shuttle to the airport, lockers, air conditioning. I was actually expecting an adventure, and am thankful that it is otherwise. I go upstairs, collapse on the bed and pass out, dog tired. I am more tired than I realized, I sleep for hours. It rains a bit while I do. After I wake up, I chat with an older couple in the room, they are from California. She is a meek, soft-spoken, peaceful creature with white hair and has almost an air of nobility about her, he is a tall bald fellow originally from Russia, and he has a bad cold. His voice is raspy and strained as he talks. She tells me she had her bag stolen while they were in Moscow. I tell them about my adventures with pneumonia while in Germany, and they say that the air quality is quite poor here. I take my leave, and walk up and down Nevskiy prospect a bit (the main drag). I eat at McDonalds, too tired to mess with local cuisine yet – leave that for tomorrow. Ketchup is an extra nine rubles. A guy on the street is twirling metal rods in the air while they are on fire, entertaining the spectators. There is evidently quite a bit of money here – I see fancy limousines on the street and upscale restaurants here and there. The girls seem to like to get dressed up, they wear fancy clothes, short skirts, high heels, lots of makeup. Some good-looking women here as well, for sure. I stop in at a bar with a music motif, pictures of Led Zeppelin and the Beatles and Bob Dylan on the walls. I get a few beers, try to practice my working vocabulary of about five russian words on the bartender, Anton. His range in English is about the same, so we don’t make much headway. There is a picture of Ian Anderson on the wall from Jethro Tull (one of my favorite bands), I mime playing the flute and try to indicate that I like him. In response, I think he is trying to tell me that Ian actually ate or at least stopped in at the bar at one point. I finish my beer, locate a supermarket to get some stuff, and head back to the hostel. When I get back, there is a line for the bathroom, so I go down a level to the reception desk and ask for a toilet down there. The girl points me to s set of metal double doors in the stairwell. I go in, it looks like a private suite of some sort, like a penthouse for someone who is willing to pay extra. There are a few different rooms, larger beds, a TV. I use the bathroom, come out, and to my complete surprise find that I can’t find the exit. I wander in circles; the only doors I can find are two white double doors which are locked. I pound on the door like an idiot, “Can anybody hear me?” It is like a scene from The Twilight Zone. I am trapped in a small Russian room forever, to be entombed here for all eternity, never to be heard from again. Futilely, I circle around the place once more, then resume calling for help. I pound on the door so hard that suddenly my fist goes through it, cutting my hand and sending pieces of wood everywhere. I peer in through the gaping hole and see another bedroom beyond it. This is obviously not how I came in. And if I ever do get out, I will now be sent to a Russian prison for attempted burglary. Finally, I realize that the doorway out is actually in the closet, which has a back wall colored black that completely conceals the door itself. Free at last, free at last. I go back upstairs quickly, and go to bed, hoping that no one will notice the hole for a while.

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2 Responses to “7/10”

  1. led Says:

    Hi, i must say fantastic website you have, i stumbled across it in Yahoo. Does you get much traffic?

  2. Posted from United States United States
  3. scott Says:

    hi, thanks very much, i’m glad you like it. no, i don’t get too much traffic, i’m a bit of an unknown i’m afraid…:) -s

  4. Posted from United States United States

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