Solo world traveller looking to find a bit of herself wherever I go.
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  • Day1

    The Adventure Has Began

    October 19, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Just hanging out at the Edmonton Airport ... Took advantage of the food and amenities here.

    Had a great meal with a wicked Caesar at Chili's and then indulged in a back massage.

    Otherwise not much to report from the Edmonton Airport.

    Have to say though, the cheap flight from Abbotsford was definately worth it ... First time ever I've been on a flight that actually left ontime!
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  • Day2

    Lima Llama Lima

    May 10, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    It was a long travel day yesterday with the red eye flight, short connection in Mexico City and the a flight delay. By the time I made it to Lima I was so exhausted I chilled in my hotel room. I did go out to grab food, yay for Papa Johns lol.

    I was so tired I went to bed at 8:30 pm, and slept till 8 this morning. Lima is a pretty loud city, reminds me of New York with all the traffic, sirens and honking.

    Today though I got everything in that I wanted to see! And only bought a couple things too, and we know that’s a feat for me!

    I walked my way around Miraflores pretty easy, and started with heading up to Plaza Agustin Gutierrez, here I visited Starbucks and McDonalds, don’t judge it’s my thing. After this I opted to see the ruins Huaca Pallana. These were a step pyramid / village built eons ago. It was a pretty cool site to see to be honest.

    A guided tour of the site was included and what got me was that 37 years ago it was still undiscovered, and the local kids were using it as a dirt bike track!! The guide said in another 30 years it should be done, which would be cool to see.

    After this I decided to see the Miraflores Central Park, and the John F. Kennedy Park, the parks were small but nice and oddly enough offered free WiFi. I did go to Starbucks and grab a snack so I could get inside for a bit since I noticed I had a sunburn starting.
    I continued over to the Choco Museum, which was pretty interesting. I bought some tea, because it was delicious . Felt like I had ate a chocolate bar.

    Next I decided to head to the park of love which was quite nice and a 20 minute walk away. I wandered around and went and saw the lighthouse as well which was nice. I headed back to the hotel to relax, shower and get ready for the meeting that night.

    All in all it was a pretty good day. I can’t complain about any of it.
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  • Day20

    Moscow

    October 16, 2017 in Canada ⋅ 🌫 12 °C

    We are here!! It’s Moscow!!

    As we stood in the train station, it dawned on me that we were in Moscow, I’ve waited so long to be here and here I was.
    We caught a transfer to our hotel, and were allowed to check in right away, which allowed us to freshen up from the night on the train.

    Alex was giving us an orientation walk that started out with us heading over to the metro, where we picked up our metro passes, and we were on our way. When we got off the train we stepped out right outside the Red Square.

    Most of us were in awe of the architecture of the city, I think it blew most of us away. We got a quick briefing of the immediate area and took a quick peek at the Red Square and St. Basils.
    After lunch we went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the Kremlin guards change. It was quite a sight to see these high kicking guards.

    Then we were free to roam Moscow!!

    I went to the Red Square first to snap photos of the GYM shopping center, the Red Square, and worked our way towards St. Basils. As we got closer to St. Basils it was just as beautiful as I thought, although slightly smaller than I expected. But none the less I was standing in the Red Square looking at this beautiful Cathedral. We all took tons of photos here and then thought of going inside but it was slightly expensive.

    We walked over to the old KGB headquarters. It was a bit of a walk from the Red Square, but we got to view more of this fantastic architecture so we were too distracted to notice the distance. Moscow is surprisingly cool.

    When we came up on the KGB building it was just as impressive as the rest of the city. What was funny was that a massive toy store was right across the street from it. The toy store had a viewing platform, so we went to the top and took a look at the Moscow skyline.
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  • Day19

    Moscow or Bust

    October 15, 2017 in Russia ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

    It’s a full 24 hours on the train to Moscow. Super excited can’t wait to see this beautiful city.

    We’ve got the upgraded train car, which means more amenities, food and space. Oh it is glorious compared to the trains we started out with!Read more

  • Day18

    Yekaterinburg in Full

    October 14, 2017 in Russia ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

    Today started off with a fantastic local guide who took us on a great walking tour around Yekaterinburg. She took us to see the old wooden houses, the historic squares and houses, various important monuments etc., and specifically to the Church of Spilled Blood. This is the site where the Romanov family was murdered nearly 100 years ago.

    The church was a main sight for me and it was beautiful. It was under renovations, so we weren’t able to see the recreation of the basement where the slaughter happened, but it still was a beautiful sight. I have to give our guide credit, she knew the history for both sides of the stories, and gave an unbiased story. She told us what she believed, and how her family was connected to the story, but she never forced her views on us, and really left it open for our interpretation.

    [I do recommend reading up on the Romanov family, and the tragic events that happened. The guide, Valentina, really poked at my curiousness and I am now reading a book on the deaths of the family, and the controversy around the bodies.]

    The other thing Yekaterinburg is known for is its military installments. There are tons. This used to be a military city locked off to outsiders, so it has a lot of history and museums attached to it. We did got by a few places and it was pretty damn impressive.

    After our tour finished, and we had a fantastic lunch (Alex nails it with the food!), the girls and I went to a local craft store, then headed down the pedestrian corridor. There wasn’t much to see but we ended up at the local hockey arena, then a flea market, and walked through a beautiful park. We found a random Beatles monument and a Michael Jackson one too, lol.

    We got back to the hotel, were able to get some groceries and then called it a night. I did have dinner at the hotel which was ridiculously overpriced and expensive for what I got.
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  • Day17

    Yekaterinburg Arrival

    October 13, 2017 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    Today was a bit of an off day ... we went through two time zones last night so when we woke up this morning thinking it was 7 am, it was 5 am ... ugh, mornings 😞

    This made this day a bit longer since we still had another 6 hours to go on the train ride, but it was helpful to allow us to pack leisurely, condense bags down, and just relax.
    We had a few stops along the way, and I did get out at the first one just to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. I joined a group as we walked to the train engine and back again. The conductor however thought it would be funny to prank us through and honk the horn so that we started to run to our car. When we saw him after he was in hysterics (very rare for a Russian) ... I should also mention our car was the last car so we had a bit of a distance, but we realized shortly that the train was still in the station for a bit longer. We all had a great laugh at ourselves.

    We arrived into the city at around 1:30 pm, and traffic was so horrible it took us almost an hour to get to the hotel, when it’s maybe a ten minute drive. Yekaterinburg is hosting the 2018 World Cup, so they are doing a lot of upgrades. Hopefully it will be better than Sochi.

    We had just over an hour to get showered and changed as we were heading to out to dinner and then to the ballet that evening.

    Alex took us to this cute restaurant that was devine. The decor was super cute, and the food was amazing. The piroshkis were out of this world. We even sampled some of the restaurants homemade Horseradish vodka ... that was different.

    The ballet was held in the opera house, and the building was magnificent. It was just draw dropping to be inside of this place.
    Our seats were in rows 1, 2 and 3, and were excellent. I made friends with a Russian lady beside me, who was quite nice and very sweet.

    The ballet ... now I’m open minded to new experiences, even though I don’t consider myself an artsy/interpretive person who can look past the brush strokes and see the anger or pain, blah blah blah. I take it at face value.
    So this ballet was a bit of a challenge for me, there were parts that were what I expected a traditional ballet to be and that was great ... then there were the other parts where I was like WTF is going on. The women were graceful and beautiful, a little too skinny to be honest, but they are ballerinas. The men were just as graceful and had butts you could bounce quarters off of (legit!)

    After the ballet we headed back to the hotel, some opted for a nightcap, I opted for bed. It was a great day, with some new experiences
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  • Day16

    Train Time

    October 12, 2017 in Russia ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

    By 9 am today I had already done a train station tour, had two breakfasts and a nap ... I had a productive morning. That’s what happens when your cabin mate is an early riser and there is a time change.

    It’s a full train travel day today, so nothing exciting but relaxing and chilling out is on my agenda.

    We did decide to check out the restaurant car as we heard fantastic things about the pancakes (crepes) and red caviar. While there we met an Australian guy who was on his way to being drunk, and insisted we have vodka with them. We did one shot with him, and it wasn’t bad vodka, but since I can’t drink vodka cause it grosses me out right now, it was a bit of a challenge.

    The Australian then decided to bring back a couple friends, and things changed in the atmosphere, one of the guys was Mongolian and kept making violent references, the other guy was Irish and he was cool. He’s a Game of Thrones extra. Because of the actions the Mongolian guy was making the restaurant manager was giving him hell, the girls and I opted to settle our bills and leave. Seemed like the safest alternative since I’m pretty sure the manager was going to chuck him out the rail car window and leave him. And if she couldn’t do it, I’m pretty sure the chef could have.

    That was the highlight of our day to being the most eventful thing to happen. Other than that it was a pretty relaxed evening with a beautiful sunset that made the sky look like it was on fire.
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  • Day15

    Irkutsk & Train Adventure

    October 11, 2017 in Russia ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    Well, it was another early one today as we had to leave the lovely area of Lake Baikal, and head back to Irkutsk for a city tour and then leave on the train.
    I had enough time to eat breakfast quickly, and then run to the post office.

    When I got back the bus had arrived and we were just loading everything up, so it was perfect timing. The drive back to Irkutsk was uneventful, just some beautiful scenery along the way.

    When we arrived in Irkutsk we picked up our local city guide who took us around to various sites, and churches, etc. We learned about the founders of Irkutsk, the history and just lots of information. At the end of the tour we got to visit the Russian Orthodox Church which was beautiful. It was very ornate and the decoration inside was amazing.

    After lunch and a bit of wandering around we had to head to the train station to catch our afternoon train. We would be spending about 54 hours on the train give or take the few stops we can leave the train on. This would be the longest section of train time we would be doing, and covering 3470 kilometers to Yekaterinburg .
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  • Day14

    Irkutsk / Lake Baikal

    October 10, 2017 in Russia ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    This morning we were met with a “lovely” wake up call at ten to six in the morning, 😖.

    We had to be off the train a few minutes after six, so we had an hour to eat, pack our packs, strip the beds in the cabin and be ready to disembark. There was a shuttle waiting for us as we left the train station in Irkutsk. We had the most Russian driver possible, who also had a wee bit of road rage.

    We were getting taken to the resort town of Listvyanka on Lake Baikal. This is said to be the Riviera of Russia where the celebs etc. go. However at this time of year it was frighten cold, and it was.

    On the way to Lake Baikal I fell asleep so I couldn’t tell you about the drive, but I can tell you it was lovely getting that extra hour of sleep.

    When we arrived at the local B & B we were staying at we couldn’t check in, but they would store our bags, and we also could get them to do our laundry (clean clothes, yay!) We chilled out here for a bit using the WiFi, and warming up since it was quite cold here. As well the place was on the lake, so we had a beautiful view we could take in. After a bit Alex took us on a tour of the town and we got into some of the local delicacies.

    We were a 20 minute walk away from the market / main area, so we walked along the lake enjoying the sights and gathering information about the area. When we finally arrived at the market they were just setting up for the day, Alex gave us the task of buying Omul ( fish only found in Lake Baikal) that was smoked and steamed, then coming into the cafe beside the market to eat.
    In the cafe I bought some piroshkis and a coke to go with my omul. The omul was really good, you eat with your fingers and it was delicious. The piroshkis were just ok, not as good as the first one I had.

    After lunch we wandered the market and picked up little souvenirs, I finally got some nesting dolls. When we finished this we decided to do a two hour boat cruise on the lake. It was wonderful. We even saw a naked man on the beach praying, it was hilarious. We saw ample amount of old trains, abandoned boats, luxurious beach properties ... there was a mixture here.

    After the boat I opted to skip the hike since I was still a bit sick and walked back to the B & B. I did stop off at the post office to grab some stamps which was super convenient. Once back to the B & B we were allowed to check in.
    The rooms were really cute and cosy, we also had a central living room to gather with everyone that was in the rooms upstairs. The showers were fantastic, and it was also like a private sauna, it was so warm, and great for my breathing.

    I hung around in the common room with half the group. We had a blast laughing, joking, and just being silly. It was simply great fun. After a bit everyone did break a part to go do their own things, but Nigel and I did go off to see the sunset and get some pictures. It was quite beautiful.

    Dinner was at the hotel tonight, and it was a typical Russian feast ie: covered in dill.
    After dinner we again just spent time laughing and telling stories, just enjoying ourselves. A great way to end the evening off.
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  • Day13

    Train To Russia

    October 9, 2017 in Mongolia ⋅ ☁️ 3 °C

    This morning we woke up at the Mongolian border with Russia.
    Our train engine played crash boom ditch (similar to ding dong ditch, except with rail cars) during the night, and left us in the middle of the tracks. When we woke up we only had 30 minutes to use the border washroom, which we had to pay for. Because from 8am till 10 am we were without passports as we had to surrender them to the Mongolian officials. Just after 10 am we received them back.

    Next we were taken to “no mans land” which is the area between Mongolian and Russian borders.

    Without going into the glorious details, the Russians were very thorough with their carriage inspection, passport inspection, and dog sniffing inspection. There were about four different officers we had to deal with.

    After everything was hunky dory with the Russians we were given our passports back and allowed to leave the train. We had a three hour window to wait until our engine came with another set of carriages to attach to us. We were in the village of Naushki and it was a tiny cute village. We saw babushkas selling their goods, to which I bought my first piroshki!!, a cow just walking down the Main Street, and ramshackle buildings. We walked to this little rustic cafe where we had hot borscht, and drinks. The food was very good, and cheap, just the way I like it!

    As we made our way back to the train station we were allowed to explore the area a bit, not that there was much to see, except the cow that was wandering around Main Street was now wandering around the train station. He also picked up a friend too. None of the locals batted an eye, while tourists like me were like Wtf. It was pretty funny.

    I boarded the train shortly after, but with time to spare so I could enjoy my warm piroshki. My goody attracted me some new friends, six to be exact. I had dogs follow me to this carriage door, it was quite funny, except for when I asked my cabin mates if I could bring one with us ... I was met with a resounding no, lol.

    After this I’ll be honest, nothing exciting happened except good conversation, a beautiful sunset and instant mashed potatoes.
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