Trip to Russia: World Cup & Trans-Siberian Railway

Now let’s write about our trip to Russia:

Russia is the largest country in the world, occupying part of Eastern Europe and Northern Asia.

Moscow is the capital and has 12 million inhabitants.  Saint Petersburg is the 2nd largest Russian city, with approximately 5 million people.

Russia is a country marked by a lot of history, from the Romanovs’ Empire, USSR and the Cold War.  Nowadays the country is modern, full of art, museums and friendly people.

We traveled to Russia to experience the Trans-Siberian Railroad and to watch the 2018 World Cup.  Since we were in Brazil, for the 2014 World Cup, it is hard to resist not attending this awesome event.  Also traveling along the Trans-Siberian railway, has been on Keith’s bucket list for a while.  The Trans-Siberian, is the longest line railway in the world, with a length of 9,289 km (5,772 miles), connecting Moscow with Vladivostok since 1916.  There are also 2 famous branches: The Trans-Mongolian, and Trans- Manchurian, connecting into Mongolia and China.   Of all the journeys, the Trans- Mongolian, which goes through Mongolia, but finishes in Beijing, China, is the most popular.   We chose this route, and stopped in the capital of Mongolia, Ulannbatar, instead of finishing in Beijing.

We first flew into St. Petersburg.  It is a very charming city, that lays on the banks of the Neva River surrounded by bridges, which cross its various waterways.  St. Petersburg is also known as the Cultural Capital of Russia, and it has several beautiful places to visit.  With a short staying in St Petersburg we tried to see the most important landmarks such as:

The Hermitage Museum, the third largest museum in the world. located in the winter palace.

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Hermitage Museum

Church of the Savior on Blood:  It was built in 1881 in honor of Czar Alexander II, who died assassinated in the place, the victim of an attack, that’s why the name is church of savior on blood.

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Church of Savior on Blood 

We took a trip on the Neva River and other canals.  This is one of the most beautiful tours to do, especially at night, when all the lights are illuminating the most important landmarks of the city.

We also had the chance to witness the white nights, when the nights are clear and the sunrise happens at 3 am in the morning, making this one of the most beautiful natural phenomena created by nature.

And of course we went to a World Cup soccer game.  The country was filled with people from all over the world, partying and excited about their soccer matches.  It was such a great event!

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Brazil vs Costa Rica

After spending a few days in St Petersburg we flew into Moscow.

Moscow is one of the most beautiful cities we have visited, the mixture of ancient and modern buildings make this city an extremely interesting place to explore.

The red square is a very historical place, that is impossible to be missed.  Here many historical events, such as executions, processions, military parades, and important speeches have been given by important Russians.

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St. Basil’s Cathedral 

There you will find the Kremlin’s walls and towers, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and the mausoleum of Lenin, the first Soviet leader, who died in 1924, and his body is embalmed and is still on display today, during limited visiting hours.

The Kremlin is a fortress with several palaces, churches, museums and other monuments inside. It was once the citadel of the Czars, the seat of government of the Soviet Union, and today is where the current president Vladimir Putin works.

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Kremlin

The subway stations are also another attraction in the city, the architecture is made with mosaics, sculptures and it’s very efficient.

Ballet at the Bolshoi Theater:  Founded on 28 March 1776, this is the most famous ballet in the world, where people of various nationalities dream of performing, and where only the best ones can enter.

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Bolshoi Theather 

And then our journey by train had started!  

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Train

We embarked on our journey from Moscow to Yekaterinburg, where the last of the Czars were killed. Now a church is built over the site of the assassinations.   It was a somber visit, but good to break the monotony of train travel.

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Yekaterinburg

On our particular train, there were three classes: first, second and third. There was a restaurant, bathrooms, but no showers.

If you have some phobia I would not recommend traveling on this train.  You will are basically confined to a room, not able to shower, and if you travel in the third class, you will see a bunch of Russians walking around without shirts, kids crying and a bunch of boring soldiers that can not even drink vodka!

But the scenery is beautiful, and the experience is unique, especially if you travel in the first class.

After spending a day in the city of Yekaterinburg, we embarked again towards Siberia.  Here we had the opportunity to see Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world.  We stayed in the city of Listvyanka, on its shores and enjoyed a relaxing time from working and our travels.   The water was too cold to swim in, but the views were amazing, the food was good, and there was plenty of soccer on TV.

Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal
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Lake Baikal

Before entering Mongolia, the last destination of our inter-continental trip, we had to go though the immigration process, while remaining on the train, on both sides of the border.  The Russians and Mongolian agents checked our passports and cabins very thoroughly.  Our journey was almost at the end.

Mongolia borders Russia and China.  The capital is Ulaanbaatar, which is considered the coldest capital city in the world.  Mongolia is surrounded by lush green mountains, beautiful national parks, villages, a vast desert, and home to one of the world’s last surviving nomadic cultures.

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Mongolia

The National Parks are some of the most beautiful places to see in Mongolia.  Such as: Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Terelj National Park and famous Turtle Rock.  Here you will find horses, camels, stunning rock formations, temples and villages.  Not to mention the Gobi Desert, which is full of valleys and stunning sand dunes.

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Turtle Rock

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The monuments are also a must seen while in Mongolia.  One of the most important is The Ching iKhaan (Genghis Khan) Statue Complex.  This is a huge monument of Ching iKhaan the founder and first emperor of the Mongolian empire.  Here you also have the chance to interact with live Eagles, and take pictures with them.

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Genghis Khan Statue Complex

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Mongolian-Eagle
Beautiful Eagle!

A lot of tourists opt to stay in a Ger, the traditional Mongolian tent, to experience the nomadic lifestyle of Mongolians. The locals can cook traditional food for you as well.  The milk tea is delicious, do not miss the chance to try it!

Mongolian people are friendly and shy. Maybe because they live in such an isolated part of the world.

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Ger
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Mongolian Tea

 

The whole train journey was incredible, the scenery and the lessons we have learned will be never be forgotten.

Currency of Russia: Russian Ruble

Official language: Russian 

Currency of Mongolia: Mongolian Tögrög

Official language: Mongolian

 

Russia-Moscow

 

Author: Traveling the Continents

Traveling the Continents features adventures in travel, destination guides and travel tips from around the world.

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