Showing posts from October, 2008

Goodbye Quarter Card, Goodbye Russa...NOT - Part II

If you're just picking up on this story, scroll down and start with Part I...I just finished spending my third day with the Russian police in the Siberian city of Ulan Ude, just hours from the Mongolian border. The process of getting a single piece of paper that will allow me to travel to the nearest US Consulate in Vladivostok (2 days by train) has been painfully slow and bureaucratic, and I have recounted every single detail of my travels from Moscow to 11 different police officers through my incredible translator, Olga. Most of my time today and yesterday was spent in an office at the police station answering questions like: "how much did your wallet cost", "how many zippers did your security belt have", "who were you sharing a cabin with and what country was he/she from" (I loved saying my roommate was a North Korean diplomat to Russia), "where, exactly, did you remove your security belt to pull out your train ticket before boarding", e

Goodbye Quarter Card, Goodbye Russia...NOT

When I was a kid, my Uncle Brad would give me "quarter cards", which were his business cards with a quarter taped inside. The thought was that I would always carry it, and if I was ever in a bind, I could use my quarter card to call him (and although I've never used a quarter card, he has come to my aid on multiple occasions, by the way). Even though it has been over 15 years since I received my last quarter card, and cell phones have since rendered them obsolete, I still carry it in a safe place when I travel as a sort of symbol of what it represents. Sadly, I lost my quarter card sometime in the past few days. And along with it, my passport and Russian visa. In my adult life, I can't remember ever losing a key, wallet, or anything else of significance. Now there's certainly a chance that I could have dropped by security "fanny pack" between the time I removed my ticket to board the Trans-Siberian (Moscow to Ulan Bator, Mongolia) train in Moscow and the

Trans-Siberian - Day 4

Throughout Siberia we have stopped at small stations to pick up coal to heat the train, which is shoveled into each car from a wagon pulled by a tractor. Passengers utilize such stops to purchase supplies from locals including water, juice, cigarettes, vodka, lunch food and the like. Although it usually takes 20 minutes to "top up" the train, for some reason, the two Chinese men who look after our car always frantically hurry us back onto the train after five. EXCEPT in Ilanskaya. After taking a few pictures, I turned around to see our train pulling out of the station, with many of the passengers AND the attendants running alongside and jumping on. Guess someone missed the memo on that one! I'm really glad someone in Moscow told me to bring some food, because while the dining car is good, it's very expensive and I have planned for Asia to be the cheaper leg of my trip. I still haven't figured out what the hell the attendants do other than text their friends and co

The Trans-Siberian Railroad

I just departed Moscow on the Trans-Siberian railroad. There seems to be a mixture of Russians, Mongolians and Chinese on board, plus a few westerners. I opted for a first class cabin (two beds) when I booked, knowing that it could detract from my interaction with the other passengers, but I'm looking forward to a little privacy as I'm sure I will be meeting plenty of people in the dining car and about. Russia is tough for me. Even though my experiences one-on-one have been great, there aren't many English speakers (I know it's a bad thing to rely on), and I received plenty of stares. Actually, in Moscow I received more glares than just stares, and as I had heard, Russians don't seem to smile very often, which kind of took the spirit out of me as I roamed the city and rode the subways. Upon thinking about it more, I remembered that New Yorkers in public are the same way...I also think understanding a bit more of Russian history would help. I just met my roomma

Goodbye Europe, Hello 6,000 Miles On the Trans-Siberian

Originally, I had planned to visit Europe for only a couple of weeks, but it's been two months now and I still don't want to leave. I am now on a train from Riga, Latvia to Moscow and am comforted by the warmth of the Russian people on board. Upon boarding, the 40-something stewardess sat down next to me to explain the entry paperwork and began to softly pat and rub my leg. For a second I thought it was a bit weird, but then realized the customs in Russia will be the most foreign I have experienced so far on this trip. But what may be a common gesture for her reassured me that I would be taken care of here in Russia. I think I'm in for a heck of a week... It has been incredibly difficult to say goodbye to the many friends I have made over the past two months. Gut-wrenching actually. And for some reason, it's getting harder and harder, the longer I'm on the road. I'm not sure why that is, and to be honest, the only way I can continue to move forward is to believe

More Posts

I have decided to post a bit more frequently, so here's an update (I can only post one picture from the BlackBerry, so here's one of my cousin Vivi in my work button-down): I'm in Berlin this week via Milan, Paris, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Munich. I stopped briefly in Milan, thinking I might be able to stop in on a few of the fashion week festivities (yeah right), then stopped in Paris for a few nights to get a hotel, get my back worked on and rejuvenate again before destroying my body for several days in Amsterdam and then Oktoberfest with my Cuz (Dan Adamson came over for the week from Boston - Dan and I realized we have the same great, great grandparents after becoming close friends in college) and Dan's friends who are living in Rotterdam. From Munich, I headed to Berlin, where I've spent the week with a Russia language tutor, arranging a Russian visa, and preparing for my long trip on the Trans-Siberian railroad next week. The first leg of that trip will