Flat in Moscow

by Nora Dunn on September 23, 2011

Ultimate Train Challenge threesome in Moscow

Despite a roller-coaster ride in Ukraine leaving me feeling higher than lower, I roll into Moscow (literally “roll”, on the overnight train) feeling pretty flat.

 

train to Moscow from Kyiv

 

Although I’m very excited about the Trans-Siberian rail experience, there are a few things pressing on my mind:

  • Between Sept 17th – Oct 1st, I’ll be spending a grand total of three nights in a bed that’s not on a train.
  • I have accepted a house-sitting gig on the Caribbean island of Grenada immediately following the Ultimate Train Challenge (more on this later), and I need to buy plane tickets in the next day. (And traveling from Vietnam to the Caribbean isn’t exactly a hop, skip, and a jump – nor is the laborious process of booking flights my favourite thing to do).
  • The Trans-Siberian journey involves one week – solid – on a train, with….no…..internet. (For a gal who gets about 50 emails/day and makes a living online, this is a pretty big deal, as it means one heck of an eventual workload to contend with).
  • To compound the above problem, the last week of September involves a mad dash from Beijing to Saigon, with very few rests, and access to China’s notoriously unreliable (and restricted) internet only a couple of times – if we’re lucky. So ultimately – I’m looking at no internet access for the last half of September.

(This post, if you haven’t figured it out already, has been scheduled in advance!)

 

train timetable in Moscow

 

With these thoughts occupying most of my brain-space, I arrive in Moscow.

Trying to find the hostel is a challenge because, like Ukraine, nothing is in English, and English isn’t widely spoken among the people. Playing a “match-up” game of the Cyrillic symbols on the Metro is a crap shoot, and even when I emerge from the Metro to find the hostel, I’m still not even sure I’m at the right station.

 

But look really lost and ask enough people to help, and you find help. I eventually arrive at the very cool, super-clean, and funky Prosto Hostel, and happily reunite with my fellow Ultimate Train Challenge compadres.

 

Prosto Hostel

In our two days (and one night) in Moscow, the weather is rainy, cold, and relatively uninviting. And although this is my first time in Russia, I feel – like I’ve felt many times so far on this lightning-fast train challenge – that I have to pick my battles. I can’t possibly conquer Moscow in a day, and I have a boatload of online work to accomplish before I board the Trans-Siberian.

 

As irreverent as it may seem, this is one of those occasions when I choose work over touring. There has to be a balance between work and travel, and when you travel full-time as I do, that balance is very difficult to achieve and maintain.

 

This is why I’m ultimately a proponent of slow travel. Slow travel gives me a chance to both work and live around the world, and to really sample what local life is like. I learn where to shop, what to eat, what activities people enjoy in their spare time, and experience the pace of life. I make friends, and avoid the motion sickness you can get from traveling too fast.

 

My slow travel preferences, combined with the contradictory fact that I’ve visited seven countries in the last two weeks, contributes to my sense of feeling flat in Moscow.

 

So unfortunately, this post has no pictures or stories of the Kremlin, Red Square, or the many galleries, markets, and museums. Instead, my 36 hours in Moscow are spent sleeping and working (as is the case for my train challenge partners Michael and Jeannie).

 

working in Moscow

 

Lucky for us, Prosto Hostel is a welcoming and comfortable place for us to hang around.

 

 

As you read this, we will be nearing the end of the Trans-Siberian rail journey – one solid week on one (hopefully-solid) train. We look forward to arriving in Beijing, stretching our legs on The Great Wall, and reconnecting with solid ground (and possibly some internet too).

 

One more week to go, and we’ll have traveled 25,000kms by train from Lisbon to Saigon!

 

 

 

 

Thanks to HostelBookers for hooking us up with Prosto Hostel – a place I’d recommend in a heartbeat. And fill out their survey before September 30th for a chance to win the Trip of a Lifetime.

 

 

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy & Shawn Power... Inspiring YOU to travel! September 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Hey Nora,

Thanks for filling us in. Hope the LONG train ride went ok, or should we say, going ok.

Yes, travel and work combined, as we are learning is a balancing skill and slow travel is definitely our preferred pace too.

You’ll be in need of some rest after all this is over we’re sure…as you get to the Caribbean.

Thanks, and safe travels!

Nancy & Shawn

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Richard Elzey September 25, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Hello,

I found you website and read the journey…very cool. Just thought I’d say hello and good luck, I’ll try and follow your travels.

Stay Safe,
CyberHobo

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Chris Schwarz September 27, 2011 at 6:04 am

Awesome journey – quite inspiring. I think a lot of us have that massive train rides on our bucket list (although no internet might be challenging).

How much does it cost? (for the 6 day one).

Ive also added you to my web app, which tracks the social media data for digital nomads
>> http://www.freelancebackpacker.com/travel-blogger-stats

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theprofessionalhobo September 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm

@Nancy & Shawn – Work life balance is a challenge no matter where you go or what you do I think! It’s just exacerbated when you travel and people surmise you should be on “vacation”.

@Richard – Thanks!

@Chris – I think the cost for the Trans-Manchurian depends on the route you choose and the time of year. Check out Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk) for rates – they’re great.

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