Baikal

Staying in the tiny village of Baikalsk with my host, we woke early-ish to catch a bus to the next town to catch a train to Port Baikal.

Enjoyed a breakfast of pelmany (dumplings) whilst gazing at the mountain view.

Lake Baikal is still iced over, but starting to melt (so no walking on ice for me).

Innokentiy took me to the supermarket to stock up on snacks, they stocked cans of horse meat!

Staying in the tiny village of Baikalsk with my host, we woke early-ish to catch a bus to the next town to catch a train to Port Baikal.

Enjoyed a breakfast of pelmany (dumplings) whilst gazing at the mountain view.

Lake Baikal is still iced over, but starting to melt (so no walking on ice for me).

Innokentiy took me to the supermarket to stock up on snacks, they stocked cans of horse meat!

Apparently this is the guy who came up with the idea of the Transiberian railroad.

Pretty amazing views from the train as it trundles alongside the lake’s edge.

When I did manage to peel my eyes away from the view and look out the other window I noticed tiny little settlements.

We arrived at Port Baikal where we would be staying the night.

Had a little explore, the temperature changes here were really weird, you’d be walking along quite comfortable, then all of a sudden you would hit a pocket of cold. Like walking through ghosts!

The water here is said to be drinkable straight from the lake. That may have been true at some point in time, but when you see the locals littering the shore and throwing fag butts into the clear waters…I wasn’t about to drink it!

It was so peaceful here, exactly how I imagined. I could have stayed standing here staring out at the water and mountains, listening to the ripples of the water and the cracking of the ice melting for a good hour.

Innokentiy wanted to show me around a bit.

This is where lake Baikal ends and the river begins, this bit never freezes, which is lucky as they closed the road from Port Baikal to Irkutsk. So you have to take a little boat over to the other side to take the bus!

Now, I would consider myself a fairly responsible traveler, as in, I do a bit of research about the country I’m going to to find out if I need certain vaccinations from any nasties. I did this research and it showed we don’t need anything.

I learned from my host that in Siberia there are ticks that may be infected with encephalitis. Which, if you look it up, is a bloody horrific thing to be infected with as it eats away at your brain cells. Scary. Obviously, I’m not vaccinated against this. And sure enough, a bloody tick landed on me! I freaked out a little bit. I like my brain. I like it functioning. I didn’t get bitten, but you don’t feel these buggers land on you OR bite you, so by the time you’ve found them with their heads buried under your skin, it’s too late.

Tried to enjoy the view of the sun setting over Baikal, whilst constantly checking my coat and trousers for ticks!

Finally made it back out of the grass and to our ‘hotel’ which is also the train station, as I discovered in the night when trains sit outside chugging the engine and tooting their whistles regardless of the fact it’s 3am.

I jumped into the shower as soon as we were checked in and examined myself for ticks. There were none! Thank goodness. My brain is safe, for now.

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Transiberian Travels

What do you do on a train for four days? Catch up with blog writing (and sleep).

So I’ve finally caught up, a bit late, but better than nothing!

From Russia with love and

Some like it hot are the only films I’ve seen and can think of that involve sleeper trains. So I’m going to blame them for my longing to travel on one. They both conjured up the sense of adventure and romance. Plus it’s an awesome, chilled out way to travel, as the Russians showed me. You can sit in the restaurant cart drinking vodka and eating fish and potatoes from 9am until midnight, or until you pass out, whichever comes first!

I preferred to nurse my green tea and gaze out the window, the train moves slow enough that you can actually appreciate the scenery without it becoming a blur.

This seemed like the perfect time to admire the surroundings, there was still plenty of snow everywhere, but a clear blue sky behind the birch trees.

Changing time zones as we travel through the country, falling asleep at 2200, waking at 1200, but realising I’d only actually slept about 6 hours! That spun me out!

I woke up one day to the sound of an Irish accent, I went to investigate and met Niall, who was also achieving his bucket list goals.

Through Niall I met two guys who were in the Russian army and also knew some English. All their food and snacks, they shared, they would help translate when I was struggling, and good fun to be around.

These guys definitely made the journey quicker.

Before I knew it, I was at Baikal.

The smallest station I’d seen. I was the only person getting off and the train completely passed the platform and I had to exit the train via a long drop into the darkness!

My Couchsurfing host, Innokentiy was there to meet me. It was past midnight and we made our way by taxi back to his apartment.

He showed me around and then opened a map and gave me two choices of tour he would take me on the next day.

First, try to sleep in a bed that isn’t rocking and no gentle ‘ta-chuck-ta-chuck’ of the train as it rumbles along the tracks.

Thank you

Victoria Morgan-Hill

Transiberian Train journey

Lots of bucket list ticks going on right now. Transiberian Train!!! I’m so excited! 4 days on a train, eventually arriving in Baikal.

I boarded in Moscow, and as soon as I saw the room, I kinda thought ‘oh dear god, what have I done’. Me in a room with three strangers for four days! Eek!

I boarded after midnight so climbed straight into my bunk and passed out.

I always thought I was a light sleeper, turns out, I’m not. I slept right through two people leaving the room and the beds being re-made!

First day was mainly me exploring the limited space, I didn’t want to sit in the room for 4 days, I would go crazy, so i ventured out and found the restaurant cart.

Trying to be frugal after spending money like a millionaire at a strip bar in Saint Petersburg, I only ordered green tea just so I could sit there, read and enjoy the scenery.

That didn’t last long.

As soon as the Russians who can speak a bit of English find out there’s an English speaker on board, they crowd round to practice their skills!

I watched as they downed shots of vodka, chasing it with either beer or fruit juice and slowly ate a meal of potato and fish.

It wasn’t over

Part three of the incredible journey around St Petersburg took us to a little ‘plaza’ where we stumbled upon lots of little bars (hipster bars), one bar which contained the strangest painting I’ve seen in a while.

On the way, we crossed over a bridge where the river is lined with statues of horses. One horse in particular has a distinguishing feature. The story is that the statue maker discovered at the time of his creating his statue, that his wife was having an affair with another man. So, as any artist would, he made the horse’s genitalia resemble the other man’s face.

Definition of ‘dick head’ I guess…

Anyway, we were enjoying a drink in this bar and I couldn’t help but stare at this painting.

Clearly the one pint of dark beer had gone to my head!

Oksana had one last thing she wanted to show me before the day was over. As we were making our way out of the plaza we noticed a little kiosk selling hot drinks, donuts and ice cream. I wanted ice cream, the beard in the box informed us it was too cold for ice cream! Rubbish! He sold me a hot chocolate instead. I compromised because he had a beard.

We finally made it to our last destination, the mosaic garden.

Art students get allocated a piece of wall to allow them to create their designs. This probably isn’t in any guide books and is definitely worth visiting, thanks to my insider knowledge from Oksana!

And that, was just day one!

Needless to say, we slept well that night!

First impressions cont…

The rest of my first day was a whirlwind tour of the city to help me get my bearings, locate the sights I wanted to visit and food places (very important!)

Starting on Vasilyevskiy island, where we’re staying.

Old Saint Petersburg stock exchange building.

Two columns have been built opposite this, we tried to find their meaning, all I found was in my book, they’re called Rostral Columns and the four seated figures represent Russia’s rivers, Neva, Volga, Dnieper and Volkhov. There are many other rivers in Russia, these are just the ‘greats’.

The Hermitage from across the river. Apparently when the country was doing badly, the monarchy at the time thought it was a good idea to buy loads of art to prove they were doing fine.

Sounds like girl logic!

Don’t know what it is with me and the ice, but once again, I was transfixed. Oksana explained how the broken ice that moves along the river is known as ‘walking ice’.

Continued our stroll along the river to find a poem by Pushkin about Saint Petersburg.

St. Isaac’s Cathedral in the background across the walking ice.

A little bit of Egypt…

A pretending manticore. Basically a seemingly random collection of stuff all along the river side!

Crossed over the bridge (and the walking ice) to New Holland.

New Holland is a little area that has been refurbed and taken over by hipsters. Lots of little ‘street food’ cafes, art, photography and book shops.

Oksana was on a mission to show me as much as possible, so after our quick hipster falafel lunch we moved on to see Palace Square, but not before stopping outside a cat cafe.

Finished off with the sun setting over Palace Square.

We managed to clock 15 miles walking!

A Different kind of Journey 

After the effects of being in an unhealthy relationship, the grief of Mom, I turned to food. A lot. And not good food, take aways, pizzas, and my all time vice-chocolate. If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you will have read about my experience in the boot camp in Ibiza. A quick-fix, which didn’t last very long once I came back to the real world! It got to the point where I felt like I tried everything. I’m an intelligent human being, I KNOW I should eat healthy foods and exercise more, that’s just common sense! But actually following those general rules when your emotions are up and down like a yo-yo is hard when you have no self control! 

So I employed a Personal Trainer. 

I put it off for so long because I genuinely thought I could do it by myself. 

Getting help was one of the best things I’ve done this year. I actually have a plan I can stick to, I’m accountable to someone, and I’m seeing results, albeit slowly, but I feel like the excess weight will actually stay off with this lifestyle change.
And that’s the key to all this, it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle choice. 


Moving to London has also been challenging during this transition. Socialising in London calls for a lot of drinking. I’ve been called boring several times, and received a lot of weird stares when I’m offered a drink and I refuse. 

All this behaviour has made me realise I’m actually lucky as I don’t need alcohol to enjoy my night. I still talk to everyone, I still dance like no one is watching, and I don’t have the hangover or crave bad carbs the next day! 
So once I get to a point I’m happy with, I may even share my before and after pix. So watch this space…
https://www.gbfitness.com

London!

Well, my feet haven’t touched the ground in the last few weeks. An opportunity came up to live with some friends in London and I took it! 

Since I’ve arrived I’ve been to several house parties, a comedy night, a cocktail event in Spitalfields market, and a movie premier where I met the actor who played Flash Gordon. All in the space of a week! 








And there’s plenty more where that came from. Only thing is, I’m not a big drinker, never have been, and I don’t have work yet. So the pressure of drinking expensive alcoholic drinks at every.single.social event is quite brutal. 

Luckily there is plenty to do which doesn’t involve drinking, or spending a lot of money!

I found a free art class where I started learning how to draw comic book characters, something I’ve never tried properly before, and also had a MMA taster which I enjoyed! Being away from the sea sucks but there’s plenty of parks to have a walk through to pretend you’re in the countryside.
So my current task is to find a job I love. Maybe a tough one but life is way too short to spend it doing something I don’t love. I’ve had enough of those jobs so far! I may sound smug, but that’s one thing grief has taught me, life CAN be snatched away at any point so why be miserable in life?