Warsaw, Krakow, Auschwitz, Prague …

Auschwitz … even though I’ve read a lot about this place over the years, on visiting the site I was skeptical about how bad it really was; which is apparently quite common for ignorant people. However I’m becoming increasingly convinced that this place was very, very fucked up. The more I read eye witness accounts about the ghettos around Europe, the deportations and the testimony of those involved, the more I realise what I’ve just seen … I don’t understand how or why.

Auschwitz

Nationalist party skin heads ... antithesis to Auschwitz

Moiwa liked Prague, but preferred Krakow ... she's tired too.

Leave a comment

Turkey

Turkey has been fun, but due to extreme fatigue I just haven’t seen that much of it really. The people are friendly, the food is great, the atmosphere is surreal. I especially enjoyed the Turkish baths and seeing Ayasofia. The Blue Mosque is just a big mosque. Nothing special. The Grand Bazaar was much the same – just a big shopping centre in a nice building. There was an interesting palace owned by previous Sultans that was quite good to see. Very cushy lives. Currently in Cannakale, just across the Dardanelles from Gallipoli. Six hour bus trip to Istanbul for a flight to Warsaw. Getting sick of all this travel. I need some rest.

Basilica Cistern ... underground ... awesome place ...

Grand Bazaar spices

Blue Mosque ... big on the outside, boring on the inside ...

Lone Pine memorial - Gallipoli

Leave a comment

Kiev

Pripyat, Chernobyl and a lovely city. The weather is great, but I’m feeling crap. A little better this morning, so hopefully things will continue to improve. The shooting range was a lot of fun, but kind of surreal, as I was half asleep at the time. Still, I shot quite well, given the circumstances. The AK-47 was a lot smaller than I expected and the recoil not as harsh. The Dragunov on the other hand kicked like a mule – a light gun firing a heavy calibre. Turkey up next – another Muslim nation – it’ll be loads of fun 🙂

Dodgem Cars

Hopefully this won't make my health woes any worse ...

Downtown Kiev

Leave a comment

More Moscow and St Petersburg

Pictures tell the story, so here’s some pictures. Quickly though, St Petersburg is a wonderful place; at least during Spring. It gets to -25c during winter and sometimes even lower …

Moiwa riding on the back of a Mig-29

River Neva - so much like Paris, so much like Venice, so much like Rome - strange, strange place considering it's in Russia

Yet another church with a lolly on top

Leave a comment

Kremlin and other stuff

Went to the Kremlin and met a strange local Muscovite. He proclaimed he was a yoga teacher and seemed to know enough about yoga, so I believed him. He plans on heading to Lake Baikal on a meditative mission tomorrow … anyway, he had a lot to say about modern Russia, mostly negative. I’m currently sitting in the common room and the young Russians are downing a bottle of vodka amongst themselves. Nearly half an hour and the bottle is mostly gone. I’m a little worried they’ll start getting violent. I think I was sitting in one of their chairs, as they became a little angry at my presence, so I decided to shift around the table a little … I just don’t want trouble with the locals.

I went out of the city centre a little today to the ‘burbs and stumbled upon the old olympic village from the 1980 games … monstrous hotels that served as accommodation for the athletes. The surrounds were in a state of disarray, as is much of the city. I’m off to Monino tomorrow for a look at the air museum. Hopefully the weather holds out. I was literally being blown off my feet on the way back to the hostel this evening … the winds are stronger than any I’ve encountered in a city and it’s very, very cold when the weather turns foul.

Tsar Cannon in the Kremlin

New Russian buddy ... seemed genuine.

Turning nasty ... made for a pretty good photo though ...

Moscow metro ... breathtaking ... there's stain glass artworks littering the place ... all Soviet designs ... marvellous

Soviet war memorial ... Kalasnikov toting guards included

Leave a comment

Mother Russia

It’s pretty much everything I’ve read. There seems to be a larger than normal quotient of beautiful women in Moscow. There must be something in the water, but they don’t drink it unless it’s filtered, so perhaps there’s something in the filtration systems. There’s still a lot of throwback to the cold war era, the city is very unforgiving and soulless. There are drunks walking around in the street. I seem to be the only tourist in the city. I have not seen or heard another English speaking person, except for staff in the hostel, who run the place like a gulag. Do something they don’t like and they’re straight on top of you. I swear the women in charge used to work for, or still works for FSB or KGB.

Look out, Moiwa is looking for a new job

Moiwa the socialist monkey admiring Lenin, while the locals desecrate his almighty presence on skateboards. I wonder what he'd say?

It's iconic, but I wasn't really blown away! Still amazing to see in the flesh!

This was actually in Latvia, but it's an old Hind-D gunship ... totally Russian ... insane. This chopper is the one seen in all the Hollywood movies involving the Soviet Union!

Some communist monument somewhere ...

Leave a comment

Sorrento, Positano and now Riga, Latvia

Sorrento and Positano were great. Very touristy though. Riga on the other hand is dead. It’s cold and there’s still snow on the ground. The locals are staying inside, mostly at the local pubs. They are everywhere. This country has been through the wringer. They lost a third of their population during the Nazi and Soviet occupations, many went to the gulags. They have museums dedicated to the events. Very depressing stuff. The Soviet paraphernalia is amazing stuff and just what I’m into, but knowing the true result of their reign of terror adds a bitter undertone. Propaganda is powerful and relevant to our current lives in the west, methinks; it’s just a little more subtle nowadays 🙂

Positano is just a more beautiful version of Sorrento; which on the other hand is completely fine with being the most touristy town I've been to in my life ...

This is the famous shot of central Latvia - rebuilt after WW2, during the early nineties after the Soviets were pushed out ...

This is a behind shot, but you can guess what they look like ... the women look like they've come from the same production line - they are almost all drop dead gorgeous ... the rumours are true 🙂

Not a very good shot - the churches are starting to look typically Russian now

Leave a comment