Get from Moscow to Saint Petersburg on a particular day, starting at a particular time, and on a particular train.
I don’t read Russian! Nor do I have a grasp on the phonetics of the alphabet, although I can now successfully remember/guess the sounds of some letters and thus near-cognates (e.g., “ДOKУMEHTA” is probably something about a document, although Google Translate throws up its hands).
The trip to Russia is in planning–our traveling companion is researching hotels (so we can get visas!) and sight-seeing destinations in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
What’s been surprising me is how much negativity I get when I tell people I’m planning a visit to Russia. “It’s depressing!” (with pictures like the one to the right) “Don’t go to XYZ!” “It’s super-dangerous!” “The USSR?!”
It’s disappointing that my friends and colleagues have little other than (relatively uninformed, I think) skepticism and dire warnings. I find wonder in so many things; a few pictures from the internet don’t suffice to satisfy or discourage that. I might choose not to visit an active damn war zone. I might choose not to flirt with women or gender-bend in a homophobic country. I might also choose not to travel alone.
But as someone who still marvels at standing at the edge of a country or continent in their own damn state, how can I pass up an opportunity for this kind of experience?
So last year was Iceland. That was pretty spur-of-the-moment. We decided in May and went in August. Done. I would love to go back, particularly to see northern and eastern Iceland.
This year is up in the air, though. St. Petersburg, Russia is maybe an option, but talks stalled a bit over the break, and I’m a little undecided on traveling with children. Greece or Germany are still appealing.
I’d toyed with going on an adventure cruise with Explor Cruises to the Amazon last year, but the prices were nauseating (see the “Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon”) and I didn’t get a great feeling when I spoke with the agent at Explor Cruises.
That exact same cruise is offered through a few other agencies, including REI, which at least gives proper credit to the actual company running the cruise, Amazon Nature Tours. It’s also cheaper through other agencies.
It’s August 23rd. After an overnight flight (including my first “visit” to New York), I was blearily standing in Keflavik International Airport with The Runners. One (A.) was there to run a half-marathon, and M. was there for a full marathon.
I will never forget that first look at the beauty of Iceland from my plane. The color palette was just… different. Different greens and browns, and lots of black.
(One does not just fly in to Reykjavik, apparently, unless you’re already in Iceland or (maybe) the UK. One flies to Keflavik, then buses or drives to Reykjavik.)