Travel Countdown – 14 Days

With fourteen days to go before my Russia travel adventure begins, I’ve mostly been focusing on the details of how I’m getting to and from the places I plan to visit.  And by the places I plan to visit, I mean the places I plan to visit in the first five days of a seven-week trip, because I don’t like being tied down to a specific itinerary when I’m on a long trip.

Condor Air 747

I am ticket to and from Russia on Condor Air, which is an airline I have never flown before.  They are a German budget carrier who will take me from Canada to Frankfurt, and from there I will connect via Aeroflot.  The advantage of Condor Air is that I can fly in business class for just a little bit more than the price of economy with a regular airline, and I’m looking forward to arriving in Frankfurt feeling refreshed after a decent sleep on the plane.  The disadvantages are yet to be known, although I will say that bizarrely, it took Condor almost a week to email me my confirmation and flight details after charging my credit card.

Pushkin Monument

In Moscow I’ve booked two nights in Puskhin Hotel.  I couldn’t find a good photo of the hotel so I picked a photo of a monument to Pushkin.  Sometimes I wonder if Pushkin might be my spirit animal, as I once stayed only a few doors down from his old house in Chisinau, and I also once stumbled across a bust of him in a park in Mexico City.  It seemed fitting that I stay in the hotel named after him for two nights upon arrival, after which I will mainly be switching to hostels and other budget accommodations.

I’ve printed out a metro map (even though there is one in my guidebook, it’s pretty bulky) and feel confident that I can figure out how to take the train from the airport into town, and then connect to the metro line that will take me to my hotel.

aeroflot airplane

Next I’ve booked an overnight flight from Moscow to Vladivostok with Aeroflot.  I’ve heard that the train that connects Vladivostok’s airport to its city center has closed (even just since my guidebook was published this April!) so I will need to sort out transportation into the city upon arrival.  Once there, I’m booked into a hostel for two nights, and then plan to begin my epic rail journey all the way back to where I started!

I am keeping an eye on train availability through the official Russian trains website.  At the moment there seem to be many spots available in second-class sleepers for the days I will probably travel, so I’m not going to book anything unless I see the stock dip dangerously low (like, fewer than twenty-five spots remain or something).

I’ve just found out that I need to move to a new office in the days before my trip begins, so while I’m packing for my holiday I will also be packing up my professional life for the first time in five years.  I’m a procrastinator at the best of times, and chances are good that I’ll go twice as slow as usual since I’ve got twice the work to do!

I’ll be back in a week with a seven-day update, and hope to get in a post or two between now and then as well.  If you’ve got any Russia travel tips, especially for people riding the Baikal-Amur Mainline or vegetarians leaving the big cities, let me know in the comments!

Condor Air photo via Oliver Holzbauer on Flickr, Pushkin via the Russian Wikimedia Commons, Aeroflot via Aleksander Markin on Flickr.  All creative commons licensed at publication time.

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