Location: Cancun, Mexico
Pretty uneventful day, rained all day - remnants of a hurricane apparently. Walked quite a bit in the downtown area, we're about 10km for the resort area (spring break type place) in the Hotel zone. Got my bearings, went to a market place with loads of Mexicans trying to sell me nik naks (Di you would have actually died) drank some beer, are some fajitas. Off to Merida in the morning to see Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins & swim in a Cenotes.
Location: Sydney, Australia
So I've travelled quite a bit. I missed a boat in Athens, almost lost my passport to a dodgy taxi driver in Istanbul, been on a rusty boat to Lombok with dead people even bribed an official in Indonesia to get a mates passport stamped....but I've never missed a flight. Until this morning. After a fancy dinner with the girls (and Daniel) last night, I crashed at Katie Turnbull's thinking I 'll just have one more glass of red. One more turned out to be three and glass turned out to be bottle. I awoke at 6.38am, my flight was at 6.30am. Blah blah blah, we drove to Dubbo & booked another flight, I'm in Sydney about to go through customs. Drama is half the fun of traveling right?
Here we go again....
So I'm headed overseas for 5 weeks. I have left the pub in the very capable hands of Meag, Maria & Gillian. (plus all my other wonderful staff). I'm leaving Friday night from Trundle and staying in Parkes the night as my flight is early Saturday morning. Then domestic terminal to International to check in, then back to domestic to have a catch up coffee with Sally Umbers.
Trundle - Parkes - Sydney - Dallas - Cancun.
I will arrive in Cancun and head to the "Hotel Margaritas" and anyone who was with me for the infamous "Margaritaville" experience should be nervous (I am).
Heading straight out for 15 days checking out the Yucatan peninsula, down into Guatemala then beautiful Belize before making my way to the southern Mexican beach side resort of Zhiautanejo for Tania and Lincoln's Wedding. (Tania Hirschausen for school for those of you who know her). After than a few days in Mexico City then off to Cuba for 11 days and home.
My Spanish is "muy" rusty at best - but I have been learning.
I am hoping this is the most boring entry of the trip - it may not be as funny as my travel buddy Di isn't on this trip :(....
Location: St Petersburg, Russia
Much easier to get off the train this time. No vodka or strange injuries. St Petersburg is gorgeous. After we orientated ourself with the city we climbed 262 steps up to the top of St Isaac's Catherdral to see the panorama of this very European city. Went for a traditional meal of pancakes and caviar. This was in a traditional 'soviet' house. In soviet times they brought everyone in from the country and divided the property up so many families would share one dwelling. The house that we went to would have housed many families but this family has managed to buy the rooms back and live in with just their family.
On the Caviar - Note to self. Caviar tastes like arse. Really salty, fishy and pops in your mouth. Mmmm salty fish taste. Disgusting. Only made worse by being wrapped in a pancake.
The next day we went to the Hermitage Museum. Words cannot describe the beauty and oppulance of this place. Red Fox and Brown Wolf decided that there was no way this was divided up for the masses to live in. Stalin managed to sell off 250 of the greatest and most expensive of the artworks so he could finance the military. Still impressive. A few Da Vinci's and Romanov's portraits later - our final meal in St Petersberg followed by a 1am river tour of the city.
This country has been amazing. Red Fox and Brown Wolf have had a blast. We must make the following observations:
1) Russian people are cranky and never smile. This might have a bit to do with their terrible history.
2) They do not know how to queue, the push, shout and give you Russian face (no emotion)
3) Russian men are very unlucky in the looks department. Except for Marat Safin "insert wolf whistle"
4) Russian women have their make up gun settings turned to 'whore' 6 inch stilletoes are the norm and patterned tights and trench coats are a must. Followed by a perfume bath (Yeah, we were right).
5) Vodka is evil
6) Russians are very secretive. Thats why they talk a lot into their collars.
7) Vlad Putin is disliked by all - but you can't say that very loudly.
8) It was so fun. You should come for a visit.
Next stop.. London town
Red Fox and Brown Wolf out.
O my, the overnight train from Moscow to Novgorod. It all started out well.... We made our beds in our 4 birth room of the train and headed down to the dining cart for a drink. 2 beers in the blokes next to us buy a bottle of vodka as a gift! How thoughtful. We were game! We cracked the top & shotted the lot. I went back to the bar for another (2- one for our new friends). A game of Canadian cards later.. and the 3rd bottle. There was blood over the table. Red Fox accured a major vodka/shot glass injury. Wobbled back up to find our rooms, had a quick 1 hr sleep then off the train at 6am. After our guide tried to wake us up, Red Fox was speaking Russian.. Who would have thought that she would be fluent? Anyway, a great way to get over a major hangover is a 2 hour walking tour of the city. Not Red Fox and Brown Wolf's finest hour.
Novgorod was celebrating its birthday, A little like Australia Day without the blow up pool and Triple J's hottest 100. Instead, 3 outdoor concerts and a pretty amazing fireworks display. Or was it a celebration of the arrival of Red Fox and Brown Wolf?
Train to St Petersburgin the morning.
Location: Suzdal, Russia
We headed out of Moscow at lunch time, it took 2 1/2 hours just to get out of the Moscow region! The size of Moscow is massive & looks very run down once you get out of the main centre. Lots of soviet looking apartment buildings, concrete, bleak
& exactly the same as the one next to it. The traditional houses are made from wood with 3 or 4 small windows at the front with carved wooden window frames around it. We drove through the city of Vladimir which looked equally as bleak as the apartments in it. Then through very pretty English looking country side, to the town of Suzdal. It looked like a dairy farming area. Suzdal is a very old town & was once the capital of Russia. We had a local tour guide that showed us the monetary, wooden architecture museum & Kremlin. We had dinner with a local lady who fed us Borscht & homemade Russian food then showed us how to make Russian sugar pastry. Delish! Back to her place for lunch the next day and a sauna at the guest house we were staying at. Back to Moscow that night for the overnight train to Novgorod.
Location: Moscow , Russia
We met up with out tour & guide Anya. Then off to dinner at a Belorussian restaurant for some kind of meat & potato dish & massive beers. Delish!
Then onto the metro to see the amazing decorated train stations around Moscow. From beautiful frescos to intricate mosaics, they are brillent in comparison to any we have seen before.
The Brown Wolf & Red Fox have broad assumptions to make about Russia people: 1. We were correct in thinking Russian women were either shot putters or super models, they all start out as super models then turn into shot putters as they grow older. 2.Russian men however start out life with what appears to be an unfortunate forcep injury swiftly followed by a thwack in the forehead with a spade, then a run in with a hammer & sickle. 3. I firmly belive that Marat Safin *insert wolf whistle* isn't in fact Russian...Not the most gorgeous of people.
None the less we forge on to the Kremlin in the morning. From coronation outfits, cathedrals, medieval attire & royal carriages to "the" faberge eggs, the Kremiln was spectacular.
We then adjourned to the park for a $2 beer we bought from the local supermarket, much to the amusement of the local authority. Then a few quick beers at a pub along the way & dinner at a traditional Georgian Restaurant, whose dinner was lovely until the bill-vodka discrepensy...
Headed to Suzdal in the morning.
Red Fox out xx
Location: Moscow, Europe
Our arrival into Russia was queue jumping 101 lesson. Apparently the way to make the visa check in quicker is to blatantly ignore the 50 other people waiting patiently in line & simply put yourself at the beginning. This system worked a treat for everyone except Brown Wolf & Red Fox who were at the end of the line until the wee hours of the morning. The English in the Brown Wolf made it impossible for us to jump the queue. She did follow closely behind Red Fox whose tested patience and hight elbow throwing got us to the front of the line (eventually).
To our airport transfer! After negotiating the masses of taxi drivers we found our driver Ivan, who was a man of few words, in fact we made his name up as he didn't introduce himself, or crack a smile, in fact we were not sure if the man had teeth. Luckily he also drive like maniac & road raged a little at the man blocking his car park, just to set ourselves at ease.
Found our hotel & had a lovely rest.
First thing (at the crack of 10), we meandered down in to Moscow town square. Saw the impressive Kremilin (which we'll see tomorrow) then walked along the river behind to the Kremlin to see Red Square which was magnificent! St Basil's Carhedral was so colourful, spectacular & full of a vibrant history. Will post photos soon. Headed to the KGB headquarters to check in for our mission.
Red Fox out xx
Location: Moscow, Russia
Just about to check out downtown Moscow. Watch this space. Red Fox out.
Location: United Arab Emirates
15th September. Dubai
The story so far
5am arrival into Dubai. A balmy 38 degrees and our lovely hostess pip picks us up from the airport. Customs showed no sense of urgency as an ever growing queue waited over an hour. We think the Arab work ethic is - if the queue gets bigger, we should have a tea break!
Pip and Dean have a ski boat so after a quick snooze we climed aboard and sailed around Dubai harbour. The red fox attempted wake boarding for the first time and decided to rename it face boarding and will be sticking to skis. The brown wolf tried knee boarding, very successfully, however no knees were involved.
Onto the burj al kalifa and cocktails and falafels in the worlds tallest tower.
Quick sleep, then a death ride taxi.. He was really driving it like he stole it. But Allah be willing, we arrived at the Atlantis on "The Palm" for our swim with the dolphins.
Brown fox and red wolf must have bern looking particularly gorgeous that day and after being hit on by the South African dolphin trainer and called sweethearts we got to meet the lovely Tina. Our very own dolphin for the morning. Tina was lovely and swam/kissed/danced with us. Even letting us swim on her back. Much more successful than the wake boarding attempts.
Currently the red fox and brown wolf are enjoying the crisp, clean taste of a peroni (can this be written off as market research for red fox??) at Dubai airport. Discussing our theory that Russian women fall into 2 catagories. Patterned stocking, trench coat wearing, tall blonde gorgeous ones. And ones that look like they could hurl a shotput 37 meters.. We're not there yet but will keep you posted.
Brown wolf and red fox out!
The Brown Wolf and I have been planning to go overseas since the start of the year, initially we were going to Croatia sailing, then the pigmently challenged of the two of us decided 12 days on a yacht on the Mediterranean sea would not be the optimum decision.
Because we have both travelled a little, we tried to pick a country where wed not previously been. We threw a few countries about and came up with Russia or Syria. Russia it was!
Next thing was to get our visas sorted. This was quite a lengthy ordeal. You have to be invited by the Russian Consulate to travel into the Russian Federation so we had to complete an online voucher (that was in Russian) to then be able to fill out the forms for our actual visa. A few hours and a bottle of Cab Sav later, then another 3 more attempts to get the dates right (without the Cab Sav this time) plus $110 each and we were organised.
We have been joking about being KGB agents for a while now (much to my fathers dismay) and so decided to give ourselves these code name and suspiciously whisper into our fabricated two-way radio Come in Brown Wolf, I have a visual on the Kremlin, although knowing us it will be Come in Red Fox, I have a visual on some Vodka. I hope Vlad has a sense of humour and doesnt throw us in some prison in Siberia.
So we fly directly into Moscow (via a day and a half in Dubai) ready for our 8 day tour of Russia. Days 1-2 are in Moscow, 3-4 in Suzdal, 5-6 in Novgorod & 7-8 in St Petersburg.
Think Vodka, Caviar, Beetroot Soup, Red Square, The Kremlin, Faberge Eggs, Tsars, ornate onion dome buildings, communism, The Cold War, Rasputin, Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, Marat Safin *insert woof whistle*, Alexander Pushkin, Yuri Gagarin, The Romanovs, a set of dolls inside a set of dolls, inside a set of dolls. You get the picture. We will try and experience it all in 8 days. Flights are booked and paid for, bags are at the ready to be packed. We depart Trundle on the 14th of September.
Churchill once said that 'Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma' but I think Brown Wolf & Red Fox should get to the bottom of it.
Red Fox out.