19 June 2009

Being taken care of in Russia

There are a lot of things here in Russia that make travelling very tiring. But from time to time we meet people who would turn the world upside down in order to help us.
In Omsk we stayed with Tanya and her son, who we found through couchsurfing. From there we went on to Krasnoyarsk, but hadn't been able to find a host, so we were thinking of going to a hotel (which sometimes also has its advantages, as we have a bit more privacy). When we were in the train, Tanya sent us a message saying a friend of hers, Polina, could host us in Krasnoyarsk but we would have to sleep on the floor. Well, we preferred something marginally more comfortable than the hard train benches so we said, no, thank you, we will find a hotel, no problem.
Getting off the train in Krasnoyarsk, I had not yet put my foot down on the platform, I heard someone call my name. It was Polina with a friend. Tanya had told her our train number and wagon number and they were waiting right in front of the door! She had arranged a couch for us at a friend's place, come with another friend who spoke english and another friend who had a car to take us there. Wow. We were quite surprised by this...
So we all got into the car (a japanese car, driven by this friend who was wearing racing gloves, speeding up the car as much as he could... I know why I don't want to hitchhike in this crazy country...). On the way we met Polinas friend who left us the keys to his flat. It was in a building surrounded by forest, a nice view on green hills (the fact that there was no toilet paper and that everything was pretty dirty was important to me then and set off an acute attack of homesickness in me, but it already seems just like a funny anecdote now). Polina then showed us the city and took us hiking the following day.
The other "connection story" I already told in a previous post, when a hotel room got reserved for us through a friend of a friend while we were sleeping in the train.
Our experience is that Russian people, especially towards the East, don't have the opportunity to travel so much abroad and would be afraid of doing what we are doing, travelling in a country whose language we don't know. So, there is always somebody to help us, show us the city, and nobody believes that we are actually able to buy a train ticket by ourselves!

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