Travelling: Russia - Introduction

In late summer of the year 1991, I met five young Russians, lodging in an asylum's centre. They deserted from a Russian fishing training vessel and asked for asylum. They came from different places in Russia and in the centre I met some more Russians. One of these guys I met in the centre came from Novosibirsk, a big town, with more than two millions of inhabitants, in western Siberia. To his opinion Siberia was an underdeveloped area, absolutely not interesting for anybody and he didn't like to go back to that country. Thus I found myself travelling through Russia and Siberia in 1992. In the summer of 2000 I went to Russia for the second time. That time I travelled from Moscow to St.Peterburg and Volgograd. I lived in the house of a friend in Akhtubinsk and visited also Astrakhan and Baskontchak. The five Russians.
Alexander, "White" Slava and Vitaly-->
Black Slava
"Black" Slava from Novosibirsk.
Alexander, Slava en Vitaly

When I, quite honest, replied, that I very much would like to see that country, he asked if I was serious. "Of course", I said and Slava wrote a letter to his mother and although I didn't believe too much of it I gathered some information about costs and possibilities for a flight to Moscow. However I was surprised to find a Russian envelope in my letter box in April 1992, containing a letter from Slava's mother and an invitation with all the necessary stamps of the counsel of Novosibirsk. "White Slava" from Moscow organized my living in Moscow at his relatives, who also would buy a ticket for the train for traveling from Moscow to Novosibirsk. The Dutch Travel company liked to organize my trip by train; it should be impossible for me to organize that by myself, they said. But I told them that my Russian friends would organize..

Schiphol; departure per Austrian Airlines
With this plane of "Austrian Airlines" I departed from Schiphol (Amsterdam-Airport) in the year 1992.
Per KLM in 2000.
But in 2000 the differences between the prices had gone down that much, that I travelled by K.L.M. (Royal Dutch Airlines).
Misty and cloudy Amsterdam drops down.

Clouds At a height of 13 km!
At that time, it was not allowed for foreig-ners (in fact the inhabitants also were not..) to travel freely inside Russia. But my friends said that I just had to go and once inside the country the Russians would organize everything I liked... Officially you had to get an invitation of a Russian citizen and signed by the authori-ties. You were then allowed to travel to the town of origin of the invitation, in my case Novosibirsk only. That's why I as-ked the people at the Russian consulate in The Hague to permit me to stay in ot-her places in Russia as well. No problem! Where are the invitations? No invitati-ons? Sorry then. But impossible! But I can't say I was in Russia and didn't see Moscow at all? Oh, you want to stay in Moscow? Of course I like! Well, please give me the visa. I guess that man came from Moscow, so in fact he invited me and put the stamp in my document...
In 1992; changeing plane in Vienna...
Am schönen blauen Donau...
  Not; "Am", but; Über den schönen blauen Donau...

Russian plane in Vienna.
 Russian airplane in Vienna
...and another from France.
 But another one from France...
 "Lumber" in Vienna?...

Because of the price, I flew to Moscow with Austrian Airlines (In 2000 however, I flew with K.L.M. directly from Amsterdam to Moscow). The flight went via Vienna. There I had to change my plane, but this event didn't take more than half an hour only. On my arrival in Moscow, somebody I already knew from his prior visit to the Netherlands, was asked to await me. He also should change somewhat money; Dollars against Russian Roubles. What to do, if it showed up to be fake? But I didn't think too much about this. On my arrival in Moscow I was a little bit nervous. But anyhow, if you don't want to take any risk, you shouldn't start an adventure like this one! Clouds, moving in-between us and the earth.
Clouds over Russia

                                 Moscow; Ostankino!..—>

Really; in the clouds!
Below the clouds; Ostankino
Arrival only counts...
But in the cabin there's nobody interested; it's the arrival that counts!..

Moscow - bird's eye view Bird's eye view on Moscow Lonesome sailor at the lake..
Yes, sure... Moscow and Aeroflot!

Hightech chaos?
 High tech chaos..
 Sheremetjevo-2, for departures only.
But after all, everything came as was planned before. I only had to wait a long time before I got my luggage. It didn't appear on the carrousel as was shown on the billboards, but turned up somewhere else... But the customs were not difficult and the man had arrived and awaited me! At that moment I didn't realize myself that I just started a real journey! A crossing through Russia and Siberia and then to Caucasus and back to Moscow through the Ukraine; a trip of 14.000 km by train! I stayed a few days in Moscow and then I departed by train to Novosibirsk. From there I travelled to Irkutsk and Lake Baikal and back to Novosibirsk. Mother Ivanov has a daughter living in Yessentuki in the northern Caucasus and we travelled via Chelyabinsk, Kuybyshev, Volgograd (former; Stalingrad) and Stavropol to Yessentuki. And after all back to Moscow.

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Last updated on January 10, 2004 by: