Today we’ve left Tallinn by train heading to St Petersburg and we are extremely excited! As if our trip, after two weeks travelling, is now really starting. This was the excitement we expected two weeks ago, but apparently, we needed some time to recover and realize what we are doing. The latter is btw still work in progress.
We are about an hour too early and are crazy making pictures of the Russian train. In front, at the sign post, at the side, inside. We are the only ones, the rest of the passengers is patiently waiting, bored about the long trip in front of them. We ignore it, and continue with our smile from ear to ear, as this train is eventually going to take us to Beijing across different worlds, cities, different time zones, different cultures, nature and people. How cool is that!
We share our section with a couple and a little boy. The train has barely left, and they already give some insiders advice on where to go in St. Petersburg. Ha, 5 minutes on the track and we already love train travel! The little boy is our new best friend as he does seem to be interested in our big smile and for that you don’t need to speak Russian.
Which is great as our Russian vocabulary consist currently of three words: Yes (Da), No (Net) and Thanks. Which sounds like spasiba – and for the Dutch: ons ezelsbruggetje is sperzieboon – so you can imagine we have a long way to go. We are dedicated of learning some Russian to enable us to interact a bit more than just smiling. As a first challenge we set our self the goal to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. So that we at least can read street signs and simple words. The first learning: it is far from easy! Hopefully we master it before we leave Russia… It is a funny contrast. Some weeks ago, our minds were still full of work, business plans, deadlines, meetings and the preparations of our trip. Today we learn Cyrillic letters and are satisfied when we decode the word ресторан (restaurant) or кафе(café). Very helpful for our daily doses of coffee :).
While the train rumbles on we digest the last week of travelling in Eastern Europe. It was very nice and also necessary to get ready for Russia and beyond. We slowly lost our tiredness. This needed some help. We got better and better in sleeping in – the first week we still woke up at week-day-alarm-clock-time! Urgh. We had some nights sleeping ‘around the clock’, afternoons of doing nothing and now and then still took naps during the day. In between we discovered the towns of Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn.
Warsaw was a high light and at first sight a city we did not really know what to do. But we were lucky as Robert and his family took us on board and ensured us a real Polish experience! We walked around the beautiful ‘old‘ town, which is completely rebuild after WWII, so basically sort of a ‘new’ town in old style. We drank Polish beer and ate traditional Polish food. This got me as far to eat flaczki. Google tells me this literally means ‘guts’. I couldn’t agree more as the soup is made with beef trip… (stomach of a cow). Wouter got out of his comfort zone and took żur, which is fermented rye soup. It was sold to us, as a good practice for China… but to be fair it was actually very tasty. We also did some culture activity and visited Wilonow Palace, a wonderful Baroque royal residence of the 17thcentury. And moreover, it was really nice to catch-up again and talk about all kinds of interesting things. Thanks Robert and fam for the great hospitality and time together!
We also enjoyed hanging around Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn. Each of them has a beautiful cozy medieval old town and own atmosphere. Whilst Tallinn is probably the most beautiful, we liked Vilnius most as it lacks the many tourists and ‘the big city feeling’ of Riga. We mainly spent time exploring the cobbled streets, playing around with the camera to learn how it works in manual mode and performing our meanwhile very well-developed skill of ‘relax and having a coffee in a cute café’.
Overall, we took the days easy which got us to the excitement of today while crossing the border to Russia where the next part of our adventure is waiting for us. Yay!