This was the first time I went to Russia. The sole reason was that Russia had lifted the required visa for South Africans. This gave me a key advantage to travel there without applying for the visa. As we all know, the long process and stacks of papers to apply for a visa. Going forward and backwards to the embassy.
With this news, I contacted my friend who was also visiting Moscow the same time as I had planned. She was also native from Moscow and we would make a great team, but why…because at this time I could only say hello in Russian and heard that Moscow is purely Russian and people don’t talk English often. I have been to other countries with the same situation, and o buy this was a big mess…this is back in the days with no Uber or translating apps on the market. So I have learned from experience.
On the flight. No visa…YES, this was the life! This was in the first week of the news and declarations. I had to call several people to confirm the new arrangement. From one airport to the other, staff was still unsure and I had to be patient. Especially in Moscow immigration where the lady could not speak English and had to get the supervisor after 40 min to confirm the fact. Thereafter with a very froun face, she inspected my passport with a magnifying glass to ensure there were no false pages added, or any stamps that they were looking for. I was literally the last one waiting at immigration while the whole flight have passed by me in the queue.
Got out and met my friend with the biggest smile I have seen in many years. We walked outside and got a quick coffee and cigarette, she told me to hurry we had to catch the next train to the city. Walking outside was a new skill I had to learn and also had to learn it very quickly, ice and mud everywhere you go. Slipping and sliding with one hand on the luggage and the other with a coffee…LOL, this was so funny. But made it to the train and off we go.
The train was nice and warm inside. as we progressed in the tracks I could see so much and was amazed that it looked exactly the same as every world war 2 move that I have ever seen, I noted this to her and said. Wait until spring and summer, then you will want to live here forever.
Reached the major station in Moscow, if you have never been there be prepared to walk fast on ice and mud. Zipping everything closed for pickpockets and beggars. Hower the bad as in every other city, the architecture is stunning and very maintained. And there is a sense of old and new, modern and ancient. Now that I think about it, I actually liked it so much.
Walking to the Airbnb apartment that I have booked, was a nice walk and it was also raining, luckily we had an umbrella. The location was difficult at first and had to call the owner, whom only spoke Russian. Luckily for me, I won’t be stranded and my friend helped me nicely to navigate via the phone call to the front gate. Introduced ourselves and settled in for the afternoon and to dry off, making plans for the night and drinking some local beverages. You can look at the apartment here;View On AirbnbАпартаменты в центре Старого Арбата The apartment is really nice and comfortable, also very close to walking to all the major attractions in the area. My friend stayed at the different location so it will only be me that enjoys the apartment here.
Caviar…what to say more? This delicacy is so nice and I really enjoyed my selection here in Moscow and was asking for this at every restaurant and shop. Some retail outlets you can literally buy more than 50 variants. I have seen a few online as well, and if you love caviar, then buy this top line product, that will bring you exotic flavours from the east. Russian Osetra Caviar If you are looking for a great combination of flavours but at an affordable price, then look no further than here; LIMITED TIME OFFER Caspian Salmon & Bowfin Malossol CAVIAR
Later on, we decided to go out for a drink and explore the city and what it has to offer for a first timer in Moscow. We ended up on the red square. With many people walking late at afternoon and enjoy the cool, but not cold weather. I think this is a great time to take a photo now…very much tourists!
Walk over other sites in the city. Exploring all by foot… The jacket is am wearing is very nice and part of my ski jacket, you can buy one here:Jacket
From here we turned back and wander off into the night to another spot. And found the below place, but I cannot remember the name. Loved it here and we had great conversations and even better cocktails for the night.
This day was great and I have truly seen some amazing heritage site and the Russin people are very proud of their country, this is so evident on every street and site you visit. I got home and had to start my planning for the next day. Wasnt quite sure what to do and where to go, but let me see what is there to do online with a few English sites…
Ah, that is what I want to do, riding a Russian tank and shooting the original AK47. What an experience this will be! I contacted the operator, who responded almost immediately, and his English was great. His name is Paul and can be reached by Website is here.
Early next day, I met up with my friend and went out for a breakfast. Thereafter we met up with Paul, took a taxi and drove off to an isolated Soviet military barracks 30km outside Moscow. We meet a bunch of Russian folks there that will be riding with us because it’s a group event. Listen to all the safety instructions and briefings that Paul can diligently translate to you. You decide whether you want to take a shot from the tank and some other additional services, pay for everything with cash, dress into a camo-coloured military uniform and put on a real tank helmet. The Soviet tank T-55 is basically the AK-47 of the tank world. Just like the iconic rifle it’s the most produced one in the world to date, it’s the Cold War era model, but it holds up pretty well even against modern combat challenges, you can find them in all corners of the world (sometimes without a particular trace of how did they get there), and it also comes from Russia. Seeing tanks in movies or military parades is one thing. Getting up close and personal with one is what really makes you appreciate the sheer power that it represents. Feeling the earth rumble under your feet when it approaches, holding on top of its armour as it’s jumping over uneven, off-road terrain, and feeling the blast wave from the shot from its 100 mm canon – those are the things that would really make you reconsider everything you’ve known about tanks before.
Here are a few photos of our experience, this was the best I have done in years!
Getting back to the world war 2 movies that I have seen…this has changed my mind in a totally new conception. While we waited, the ground shook and the sound was massive. How did this feel on the battlefield? I am sure only the brave was submitted to battle, or were everyone joining and then braved up…no idea but it must have been sounded like armageddon while it was battle. And want to express my feeling to say thank you for all the soldiers and heroes!
This has made my year, to be able to ride in this tank and enjoy the tie of my life here in the Soviet base. Thinking about how the soldiers lived here with basics and still loved it.
Here is a short video, from the beginning. When you just depart you go through this section then is get rougher… and I had to sit down.
It was all over and we walked together with Paul back to the car and driver back to the city. We have another event to attend so no time to waist here. There is also a very small memorial store where you can buy some items from the Soviet union nowhere else to find it on earth. You can also participate in the meal. The meal is an authentic meal from the war times, whereby you can experience the food and cuisine. All this was done and now we can head back to city life…
The next location arrived, and we proceeeded thought the security procedure and joined the instructor ( Russian Speaker) to the indoor shooting range. On the way there you could hear the gun short and we stoped and received ear muffs. and walked down a cold corridor. Before we entered we where briefed again and then entered when the other people have done the shooting. I got introduced to the AK47 and many rounds on the table. I have never shot an AK47 before and was so excited. I knew about this gun and the capabilities, I have also escaped a few bullets in Afghanistan, that is another blog.
Already…. let’s go!
BAH BAH…i first used single shots…Then i use the burst mode and eventually full auto mode! Adrenalin has been well pumped in my blood, I love this feeling, the feeling is believing. My shot placement was the best in single mode, but from auto there was not much of a differance ecept a larger profile of about 30 cm on a 100meters. I know i am good, it not my first time holding a rifle LOL.
This was indeed great. Finally we said a great thank you to Paul and his warm services and translations offered. If you are in Moscow get hold of him straight away for the adventures!
My friend said let go to the best restaurant in Moscow, it is actually a Ukrainian restaurant but well established in Moscow now. And also in the USA.
And the name is…wait for it…KORCHMA TARAS BULBA, cool name hey. Here is my opinion on the food.
Delicious! indeen I loved all of the food from the staters, as you can see in front of me is the most famous herring in fur.
Kvass is a traditional Slavic and Baltic beverage commonly made from rye bread, known in many Eastern European countries and especially in Ukraine and Russia as black bread. The colour of the bread used contributes to the colour of the resulting drink. It is classified as a non-alcoholic drink by Russian standards, as the alcohol content from fermentation is typically low (0.5–1.0%). It may be flavoured with fruits such as strawberries and raisins, or with herbs such as mint.
It is especially popular in most of the North Slavic countries, including Poland, and Serbia, but not the Czech Republic or Slovakia. It is also known in the Baltic countries Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Kvass is also well known throughout Mongolia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Armenia. Many kvass vendors there sell the drink in the streets. Kvass is also popular in Harbin and Xinjiang, China, where Russian culture has had an influence.
I have tried a variety of 5 different dishes and loved it all, Russian culture and food did not disappoint me. O there is also an English menu available, but this depends on the setting you’ll go to…The food is very similar to South African food, with a twist, where South African food has more influence from Holland and France. The evening was good as always. And my friend knew exactly how to treat me and show me the best of the best in Moscow.
Now that this is all over its time to head back the next day, back to the airport. Yes, this was a short visit by not my last. The next day We met up again and my friend accompanies me to the airport. On the way there i thought. Well, this has been a great vacation, short but incredible. And I owe my friend big time for the support and company! I have asked the taxi driver to stop at the flower shop. He found one and stopped. I got the most beautiful flowers for her!
Get to the airport, and unfortunatly had to say good bey until later again. In this message, I want to include my appreciated for her and we will meet soon again.