Wednesday, 8 October 2014



Lakeland Break
Glenridding – Monday 29th Sept to Thur 2nd October 2014

The Youth Hostel Association offering me a good deal at Helvellyn YH inspired me to return to the Lake District to tick off a few more Fells.  My target for the 4 days was to do around 30 fells.

I left Chester at 9am on Monday and arrived at the car park at Low Wood, Patterdale at the back of 11am, having driven some 119 miles.  I was away walking at 11.30am on a lovely morning and completed 8 fells but alas only 2 being Wainwrights that I had not done before.  Visibility was just wonderful and I was so tempted to do some more mountains but this was to be a four day walking trip and I did need to get back to my car and find the Youth Hostel up an unsurfaced road a mile or so up a valley past Glenridding.  I was back to my car at 5.30pm and I arrived safely at my accommodation at 6.15pm.

Here my first action was to buy a bottle of Jennings Sneck Lifter and this helped me cook my pasta dish before getting out my maps and work out a couple of routes for Tuesday.  I decision on which one I would do would be taken on Tuesday morning after assessing the weather conditions.

Tuesday was a dry morning but alas a lot of low moving cloud on the fells all around.  My decision was made and I was away to the same car park and I arrived there at 9am and then it was a walk to the village of Hartsop and my first target was Gray Crag at 697m.  As I ascended the steep lower slopes a shower of rain was seen to be coming my way and with the dense cloud above I decided to put on my waterproofs.  I arrived at the top at 10.20am.  I returned to the valley bottom beside Hayeswater as its blue waters were emerging out of the cloud.  It was then up the opposite side and up to the top of The Knott 730m, arriving there at 12 noon with a very strong wind on the top.  A quick snack as I walked saw me on the slopes of Rest Dodd 697m and at the top at 12.30pm.  My next objective was The Nab a long way to the north in Martindale Forrest.  This is the oldest red stag area in England and the “Rut” had began as roaring stags could be heard all around.  The hairs on the back of my neck always stand up when first hearing these very frightening sounds but after a while you get accustomed to the noise that is intermittent and surrounds you.  It was a steep decline down the ridge and my immediate thought was that I needed to come back this way to do my next fell.  Once at the bottom it was a nice flat walk across moorland and onto the more gentle slopes of The Nab 577m and arriving there at 1.15pm.  I was now in lovely sunshine, the low cloud had cleared in the area and the sunshine remained for the rest of the day.

Back on the top of Rest Dodd at 2.10pm I was now on my way, mainly down hill on a good path to Brock Crags 561m where I arrived at 2.20pm.  I was taken back with the beauty of Angle Tarn, where I took some photographs.  I thought long and hard of knocking off another 2 Wainwrights but as one was a long walk I decided both would be for another day and I commenced my descent back to Hartsop and then a short distance to my car, arriving at 4.30pm.  I had been walking for some seven and a half hours.  I stopped in Glenridding got a few things and went for an enjoyable pint at The Travellers Rest.  Stuart from Edmonton in Alberta (he was also staying at the YH) and who had a great day on Helvellyn was finishing his pint so I gave him a lift back to the YH.  After dinner I got my map out once again and came up with two routes for Wednesday.  So far 14 fells and six new Wainwrights in 13.5 hours of walking – I was just under target!!

Wednesday was a duller morning with a slight drizzle but less cloud on the mountain tops.  My decision as to where I was going was soon made and I was away to park at Aira Force and my target was to do some 7 fells, 3 of them being Wainwrights, in the north of the Eastern Fells.  I was on the top of my first Wainwright, Gowbarrow Fell 481m at 10.15am.  I could see rain clouds closing in so alas it had to be the fitting of waterproofs once again.  I did this just in time as it got very wet and the rain did not clear until I was on the top of Great Mell Fell 537m at 2pm.  I was down in the valley at 2.30pm and now it was a long walk back to my car in lovely sunshine.  I took the opportunity to go and look at Aira Force waterfall, the most famous of the Lake District waterfalls, dropping a distance of 65 feet in lovely woodland surroundings.  Red squirrels are also found in this area.  In Dochray I passed the Royal Hotel which would be a good base for this impressive area.  I arrived back at my car at 4pm.

Thursday was my last day and I was up at 6am to a lovely morning and at 8.30am I was leaving my car in Glenridding and bound for the fell above the village called Glenridding Dodd 442m, arriving there at 9am to wonderful clear views across Ullswater a most impressive lake.  Early morning mist could be seen floating above the water and with the rising sun this would soon clear.  At 12.45pm I arrived on the top of Raise 884m having done 9 fells.  Being so early in the day I did want to go on and do a few more mountains along this wonderful ridge, but all the fells that lay immediately ahead had previously been visited and I had to think it would take me a couple of hours to get back to my car and then a further couple of hours to get back to Chester.  I turned around and started my decent.

I was back at my car at 2.30pm and back to Chester at 6.30pm.  I set out to do around 30 Fells and I succeeded in doing this number.  Not a bad overall result and more importantly good and enjoyable walking (26 hours) over four days.  Alas the number of new Wainwrights done only totalled 12, leaving me some 65 still to climb!

4th October 2014 


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My last "challenge" of the year!!!


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Strasbourg


For many a year I have wanted to visit the City of Strasbourg ( a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and in July this year I finally made a short visit which I so enjoyed.

The history of the city bouncing back and fore between France and Germany has blended German down-to-earthiness with French finesse and with its unspoilt beauty, charm and “laid-back” feel I was immediately relaxed as I wondered round cobbled squares, winding narrow streets and by canals.  I found Petite France particularly interesting with so many lovely buildings to look at (a lot of half timbered houses).  Notre-Dame Cathedral was ever so fascinating, you just had to stop and stare at it with so many skinny spires, buttresses and gargoyles – just a Gothic giant. 

The receptionist at our hotel had recommended the Maison Kammerzell by the cathedral to eat and we had a wonderful dinner there and at the same time watched with delight the lighting display to a classical soundtrack on this unique cathedral building.  There are lots of canalised cafes, restaurants and traditional winstubs (wine taverns).

By bike, boat and trams are a good way of seeing round this vibrant University City.

Further afield you have the Alsace and Lorraine Regions to discover and also the Vosges mountains where The Grand Ballon is the highest at 1424m.

14th July 2013  

Oggie 8 Challenge – 8350ft of ascent – 17 miles of walking! – 3rd August 2013


Introduction
Registration/rucksack inspection commenced at 6.30am with a 7am start to pit your strength, stamina and endurance against eight 3000ft+ Peaks that surround the Ogwen Valley in Wales.

This was Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation’s (“OVMRO”) 6th year of running the event with a target of £10,000 of funding to be raised.

In early April Paul Hodges had issued invites to walking friends to join “Team Siabod” in the challenge.  On the morning all six turned up to help OVMRO achieve their fund raising target and to help them to help others!

We were one of 19 teams from across the country entering the event.

The Route
The route took in the following mountains:
  • Yr Elen 962m
  • Carnedd Llewelyn 1064m
  • Carnedd Dafydd 1044m
  • Pen yr Ole Wen 978m
  • Y Garn 947m
  • Glyder Fawr 1001m
  • Glyder Fach 994m
  • Tryfan 917m.

Our performance/times
We were on the first mountain at 8.30am, Carnedd Llewelyn at 9am and Carnedd Dafydd at 9.30am where we had a short break to eat and drink.  While it was a great day weather wise for walking it was cold on the Carneddau as it normally is and I put on my shell, cap and a pair of gloves.  We were on Pen yr Ole Wen at 10am and then it was a steady descent to the Ogwen Valley below and along by the lake side to Idwal Cottage which was a feeding stop with food and a selection of welcomed drinks.  Here you could also fill up your water bottles.  We were in 5th place and the team in 4th place, not that far ahead of us.

Next was the ascent of Y Garn which is a very demanding ask and I got there at 12.47pm!  This took me 1hr 12mins to get to the top.  My best time here is 1hr 6mins so I was pleased with my performance considering I had done four large mountains earlier in the day.   A team member was struggling with blisters and cramp so while the rest of the team waited his arrival I pushed on with my next target of Glyder Fawr firmly fixed in my mind.  As I was reaching the top I could see four of the team coming behind me (one had taken the escape route down Devil’s Kitchen which was so wise) and it was good for us to reach the top at 2pm.  It was then an almost level walk with a bit of scrambling onto the top of Glyder Fach at 2.35pm.  It was then down the Miners Track to Bwlch Tryfan which for me proved difficult and seemed a lot longer with tiring legs.  The scramble to the top of Tryfan was enjoyable and here we all got to the top at 4pm as the 4th place team commenced their decent.

Going down again proved hard as we had once again to descend to Bwlch Tryfan and then it was a bit of debate as to which path we should take but after discussion it was seen to be “Heather Terrace”.  Having done this demanding route (never again I hope!) in error we surrendered our opportunity of catching the team in front of us and permitted the team behind us, who rightly descended via Cwm Tryfan, to cross the finishing line ten minutes before us.

At 5.24pm we crossed the finishing line in 6th position in 10hrs 24mins.  This was a challenging event but ever so enjoyable with excellent team spirit.  We had kept together as a team for most of the day.  The winning team came in with a fantastic time of 7hrs 48mins.

Thank You
Organisation of the event can only be described as excellent and a massive thank you to all the helpers that were involved in making this a very special day for all the teams who took part.

Alas we could not wait to take part in the party afterwards and as we were driving we left after enjoying a plate of fish, chips and mushy peas from the catering van and alas having to leave behind all the beer that had also been laid on!

Talk was that we would participate again next year with two teams of four.

Further Information
Photographs of the event can be seen on www.flickr.com and see links on www.ogwen-rescue.org.uk/oggie_8/

13th August 2013

Le Marche, Italy 17th - 24th May 2008


“A harmonious blend of history, art and enchanting landscape.
A land of condottieri, Popes, artists.”

An advert for the sale of a Town House in Rotella at around £60k (currently not habitable) in The Marche Region of Italy saw us on a Ryan Air flight (FR 124) out of London Stansted at 9.55am on 17th May bound for Ancona, to arrive at 13.10pm (the flight was approx. 35minutes late in departing but made up time on the flight).

It was a 2.45hr journey (189 miles) from Sandiway, Cheshire leaving at 4am for London Stansted and with car parking pre-booked (£44.80) we jumped on a bus that took us to the airport.  After an enjoyable breakfast we booked our bags in and went through customs which did prove an effortless task.  The total cost of the flights was £156.22 made up as follows:-
·       Total Fare                          39.98
·       Taxes, Fees & Charges    76.24
·       Bags                                  24.00
·       Airport Check In                12.00
·       Debit Card Fee                   4.00.

We had pre-booked car hire through Holiday Autos (Europcar Italy) ref GBR 1178977 (tel 0039 071 9162240).  This was a new compact 4 door Fiat which proved very good.  Armed with “sat. nav.” (just a god send) we had no problems in getting from A to B each day.  At around 4pm (the expected time) we arrived at our B&B ;( Casa Rusticana, Falerone) our hosts Angie and Ralph Emery, were amazed!!

Location
We were staying at Casa Rusticana, which was an old farmhouse purchased by Angie & Ralph (tel 0039 388 476 1710) www.ownersdirect.co.uk/italy/IT1353.htm  ralph@casarusticana.co.uk
52 Via Faleriense A Monte, Falerone, 63020 (Ascoli Piceno) Le Marche – Italy.  They were renovating the property with Ralph doing all the work himself.  We had the exclusive use of the B&B which was two double bedrooms and a lounge and dining area for the total cost of £243.75 which included a light meal on arrival.  We had a fridge, plasma TV, CDs and DVDs all of which we did put to use.  Fresh flowers were also in our rooms.  Our hosts proved to be lovely people and helped us with property viewings and books/maps for our walking in the Sibillini Mountains.  It was quality accommodation and food.  Views all around from the farmhouse were stunning.  Falerone the hill top town 2kms. away was a lovely place and we ate in The Loggette, restaurant on three occasions, all times being very enjoyable.  A couple of kms. further on was Piane di Falerone and here the supermarket Coal was located with a good choice of beers, wines and food.

Activity
Our time was split between looking at properties and in walking in the Sibillini Mountains some 1/1.5hrs by car from the farmhouse. 
 
On Sunday we parked on the edge of Foce 945m at 12 noon and we were bound for The Lake of Pilato.  A good track through high pasture and trees very soon got very steep as we ascended through a gorge.  After an hour we reached the top and then a gradual ascending narrow path took us beyond the tree line and into snow.  A further hour of walking saw us stop for a quick lunch.  By now the path had vanished under the deep snow. High mountains capped in cloud and covered in deep snow were all around us as we made our way up the valley.  At the meeting point of routes 151 and 153 at 1,800m and 1km away from our planned destination we decided to call it a day (at 2.45pm) as we were in deep snow and temperatures were getting extremely cold. It was an enjoyable walk back to the car, arriving there at 4.15pm.  We walked approximately 11miles.  The very interesting sight we saw high up in the hills below the snow line was a massive dog all on its own herding sheep.  As the herd constantly moved as they ate  grass this intelligent animal was watching their every move and keeping them moving as a complete herd.  Any individuals falling behind or seen wandering were soon rounded up – it was just fascinating to watch.

On Monday we were meeting the owners of the town house in Rotella but the property was in a very poor condition and the risks involved in renovating it were far too high.  A lot of property in the village was in a poor state of repair.  After a walk round the village and a second viewing of the property we were on our way bound for the Adriatic coastal town of Pedaso.  Here we were lucky enough to find a fish restaurant – Risterante Tilt 2 tel 0734 931916 – and we enjoyed a great lunch with the food recommendations made by the owners.

On Tuesday (there had been an early morning thunder storm with heavy rain) we were walking once again at 10.30am having taken the car up a very steep and winding track to Rifugio M. Sibilla at 1,540m.  It took 1hr 15mins to drive.  It was wet with low cloud as we made our way to the top of Mt. Zampa at 1,791m at 11.10am.  Rather than walk along the cloud covered narrow ridge to Mt. Sibilla we decided to come back down to where our car was parked and take a winding lower track to the col below Mt. Cima Vallelunga arriving there at 1.30pm.  Views all around were just stunning.  We had a short lunch break and then it was up to the top of Casale della Sibilla at 2,178m in deep snow.  A short distance away was Mt. Cima Vallelunga at 2,221m. (2.15pm).  Both were ascended in cloud before coming back to the col and then tackling the narrow ridge that took you to the top of Mt. Sibilla at 2,175m.  By now the cloud had lifted and Mt. Sibilla (the mountain has two tops) was reached at 3pm.  From here it was a continuation along the snow covered ridge to the point we had ascended earlier in the morning and down to the car at 4pm.  A great day indeed and three large mountains bagged.  We were back at the B&B for 5pm.

On Wednesday we were picked up by Vincent Sandford (of MarcheRustico, Via E. Divini 28, 62027 San Severino, Marche (MC), Italy Telephone: +39 0733 645233.  MarcheRustico provides turnkey solutions and property sales in the heart of Le Marche, Italy.) and his wife and taken on a tour to view three properties in the region.  We stopped for lunch at Il Giardino Degli Ulivi (Agriturismo) in Castelraimondo tel 0737 642121.  Here we met the owners.  Ever so enjoyable.

Thursday saw us visit another three properties around Falerone.  Then we visited the regional capital of Ascoli Piceno and did get caught in a thunder storm with the streets soon turning into rivers with the fierceness of the rain.  This fascinating town has beautifully preserved piazzas, narrow streets and churches.  Enjoying a cappuccino in one of the fine piazzas- is Italy at its best.

Our target for Friday was to walk from the village of Rocca to Mt. Torrone at 2,117m and if it was a clear day then perhaps along the ridge to Mt. Vettore at 2,476m the highest mountain in the immediate area.  We had a clear view of this ridge from Mt. Sibilla on Tuesday and what we thought appeared to be good tracks.  Our attempts to find a path to the ridge proved fruitless as we started our walk at 10.30am.  From the centre of the village of Rocco we crossed a bridge and we were on the path (the route is marked with white ribbons) from Rocco to Altino and on a couple of occasions we were drawn of this path by tracks leading to areas of high green pastures amongst the trees, thus wasting
valuable time.  We reached the village of Altino (we should have parked our car at this point) at 11.15am and then it was up to the mountain hut at Prati di Altino at 12.45pm.

From here it was very steep and the path vanished due to fallen trees (all around) and we did expect an avalanche had occurred here earlier in the year.  At 1.30pm we had at last got above the tree line (we had been in this extensive forest for 3 hours).  We did walk across the steep side of the mountain but did not find a path.  These paths are clearly marked on the map we had.  At 2pm at a height of approx. 1,600m we decided to call it a day as we were clearly not going to get to the top of Cama Della Prata at 1,850m far less Mt. Torrone.  We stopped for a quick lunch and retraced our route back to the car at 3.30pm.  On the way back to our B&B we did stop for a coffee in Amandola (perhaps the base for our next visit?).  Ralph had organised a viewing of a town house in Matelica (here I could have the wrong name!) a small town that we found very attractive as was the property we were shown round.  On our return to Falerone we were to have a beer with Angie and Ralph in their local bar and then on for a meal at The Loggette.  This proved a very enjoyable evening.  Here we had a very large bottle of red wine between the four of us.  Their daughter also joined us.

Restaurants
The Loggette (Closed Monday) 2km from B&B – Le Marche Cuisine
Pippo & Gabriella – Pontano – Le Marche Cuisine
Bar Vittoria – Falerone – Light Snacks
Del Corso - Ascoli Piceno
Da Vittorid -  San Benedetto del Tronto (Bass Ravioli)
Locanda Rocco – Sirolo.

Key Attractions
Sibillini Mountains – Mt Vettore highest point at 2,476m
                               - Mt Sibilla – 2,175m
                               - The Lake of Pilato.                                            
Frasassi caves
The Conero & Scrubland
Beaches:
  • Gabicce
  • Senigallia
  • Sirolo (Picturesque)
  • San Benedetto Del Tronto
Fortified Towns:
  • San Leo
  • Gradara (dominated by its castle)
  • Corinaldo
Historic Squares:
  • Ascoli Piceno & Fermo

Reading Material & Internet
The Marche – Touring Club of Italy (Portfolio Books)
Kompass Monti Sibillini - map
Sibillini.net
www.edizioniser.com

Goodbye
We found the region extremely picturesque and so relaxing.  Good food, wines and beers in such relaxing atmospheres added to our enjoyment.  We had effortlessly travelled across the whole region and enjoyed every minute of it.  It reminded us of the UK some twenty years ago where people left their properties and cars unlocked.  There is little or no crime.  We heard cuckoos making their calls everywhere we visited and we woke to hear their “cuckoos…..” every morning.  Alas Saturday 24th May came far too quickly and at 10am we were bound for flight FR 125 departing Ancona at 13.35pm and arrived in London Stansted at 14.55pm.  It took us an hour to get to Ancona airport.  We were back in Sandiway for 7pm after a good journey.  A holiday organised at short notice and all done over the internet.  Memories will always last of our short time here.

August 2008.


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Saturday, 10 August 2013

Moscow July 2013 – 3rd to 7th


Introduction
The spiritual, political and economic capital of the world’s largest country.  In recent years Moscow has blossomed into a culinary capital so that restaurant lovers have unlimited opportunities to enjoy diverse and delicious cuisine in elaborate and exotic surroundings.  There is also a wealth and variety of architecture to be seen.  There are over 80 museums offering a fascinating insight into the history and culture of the people of Russia.  The city has the largest and most efficient metro in the world.  We got totally lost in our attempt to get to our hotel! Over 3 million cars clog the city’s streets and all of these move at very fast speed.  There are upwards of 11 million people living in Moscow, making it the world’s 17th largest city by population.  16% of the population live below the poverty line.

The good news is that Moscow is no longer the most expensive city in the world; the bad news is that it is still pretty close!  Drinking in particular is expensive as all bars sell foreign beers and we found local beer difficult to find.

Most of the city’s sights are situated in the city centre.  Moscow’s suburbs are generally rather bleak; thus a city centre hotel was our choice and in choosing Arbat House Hotel, located at 13 Skatertny, Pereulok - (M) Arbatskaya - we found a good ordinary hotel in an excellent location with nice and helpful staff.  We also enjoyed breakfasts each morning.

The weather was very hot and one afternoon there was a violent thunder storm lasting a couple of hours.  As we were leaving the airport to fly home there was another thunderstorm and our flight was on the runway for a period of two hours.

In July many Muscovites retreat to their Dachas. 

Inner City
The inner city is broken into 7 areas:
  • Arbatskaya  “Arbat” & Khamovniki
  • Red Square, Kremlin and Kitay Gorod – ancient part of the city.
  • Zamoskvoreche – south of the river and a very beautiful area.
  • Tverskoy
  • Presnya
  • Basmanny & Taganka
  • Dorogomilovo & Sparrow Hills.

Key Attractions
  • Kremlin (Fortress).  This ancient fortress is the founding site in Moscow and the ultimate symbol of political power in Russia.  Only certain parts of the residence of the Russian President can be seen so early arrival is needed:
    • State Armoury
    • Cathedral of the Assumption
    • Ivan the Great’s Bell Tower.
  • Red Square – a vast expanse that accommodated huge military parades during the Soviet area.  Electrifying is perhaps the best word to describe the Sq. and it is also essential to view at night when lit up.  What attractions should you visit?
    • Historical Museum
    • St Basil’s Cathedral – a wonderful building.  Entrance fee 250rr.
    • Resurrection Gate ( most impressive at night when lit up)
    • Lenin Mausoleum ( Leader of Russia’s Historic 1917 Revolution) (Free)
    • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
  • Moscow River Cruise – the Moskva Mockba winds through the heart of the city.  Main pick up point is opposite Kievskey station.  Moscow River Line is the main company running these cruises.  We did the full river cruise and very much enjoyed it.
  • Tretyakov Gallery (World Class) – art gallery.  ( Go to Tretya- Kovskaya Metro)
  • Explore Old Arbat – lively pedestrianised area
  • Red October – now refurbished as the City’s hottest art and entertainment centre.
  • Shopping at Izmailovo.  The Kremlin in Izmailovo is a Disney-like medieval village.  Wander among the stalls of the sprawling market (The Vernisage Market).
  • Visit an “Old Circus” performance
  • Gorky Park (297 acres) – the city’s most famous park.  An alternative is Alexander Gardens.
  • Former KGB HQ at Lubyanka Sq.  We visited the building and took photographs.
  • Peter the Great monument – a 95 metre-high, monstrously kitsch waterfront homage to the founder of the Russian navy.  You pass by it on the river cruise.
  • Bolshoy Theatre  Teatralnaya Metro or buses 2,12,33 or trolley bus K
  • GUM – largest Department Store – this is a fascinating place.
  • Sanduny Baths.  Moscow’s oldest bathhouse.  The BANYA is a uniquely Russian experience – a hot steam bath, while gaining a beating with birch branches helps to improve circulation.  Alas we did not have the time to do this.
  • Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.  On our first visit we had shorts on and were not allowed in so when we returned next day we had our trousers on and enjoyed our visit.  The building is impressive and is one of the most prominent features of Moscow’s skyline.
  • Revolution Sq
  • Cycle – only safe leisurely routes are along the Mosskva and Yauza rivers.  The car is king in Moscow but there are plans to increase cycling and this is happening.  Bike hire at Gorky Park or from Oliver Bikes – www.bikerentalmoscow.com
  • Day trip from Moscow to visit Suzdal.  This medieval capital is well worth seeing – described as a fairy-tale setting.  There is an abundance of ancient architecture gems and a decidedly rural atmosphere.  Again alas we did not make it.

Cyrillic Alahabet
It would be helpful to understand this, especially on the underground.  On the underground there are no English signs.

Restaurants/Cafes/Nightlife
Here I linked in restaurants, bars and cafes into our suggested itinerary so that we knew where we could eat and drink.

Drinking is a favourite national pastime in Russia and the city offers venues for every occasion, mood and season.  Moscow arguably is the most dynamic and diverse city for drinking and nightlife in the world.  Pedestrian streets like ul Arbat and Kamergersky per are hot spots for strollers and drinkers. 

There is also a new concept – the Club-Café with “diverse offerings” under one roof.
  • Café Pushkin Tverskoy bul 26a (M) Pushkinskaya (Inner Presnya) meals R1,500-2,000 Exquisite blend of Russian and French cuisines – service and food done to perfection.
  • Bosco Café Krasnaya pl 3 (K&KG) Café within Gum store (1st fl) is the only place to sit right on Red Sq. (Special experience).
  • Stolooaya 57 within Gum store (3rd fl) meals R300-400.  Old style where food is both good and cheap.  Great place to try “herring in a fur coat” – which is herring, beats, carrots and potatoes.


  • Ragout Bolshaya Gruzinskaya ul 69 (M) Belorusskaya meals R800-1,200. Vibe is cool with food choices creative.
  • Petrovich  Myasnitskaya ul 24/1 (M) Chistye Prudy  Popular retro restaurant.  Face control so it is recommended to book a table. Tel 495-923-0082.
  • Bar Strelka Bersenevskaya nab 5 Bldg 14 (M) Kropotkinskaya. (Zamoskvorechie) Roof terrace unbeatable for views of Moscow River with an excellent bar menu.  Nr Red October complex.  We went here on three occasions and enjoyed it.
  • Barashka ul Petrovka 20/1 (M) Teatralnaya meals R1,500-2,000.
  • Stolle  Malaya Pirogovskaya ul 16 (M) Sportivnaya  Full sit down menu but specialises in tasty saxon pies.
  • Genatsvale on Arbat ul Novy Arbat 11 meals R600-1,000. Georgian cuisine.  Good for lamb dishes and cheesy bread – Khachapuri.  We did visit but did not eat but a lovely restaurant inside.
  • Grably  Pyatnitskaya ul 27 (M) Novokuznetskaya. R200-300 Amazing array of fish, poultry and meat. Bar for wine and beer upstairs.  Wonderful setting with tiled floors, wrought-iron rails and chandeliers on two levels.
  • Best Eat Streets:
    • Ulitsa Petrovka (Tverskoy)
    • Spiridonievsky pereulok (Presnya)
    • Kamergersky pereulok (Tverskoy)
    • Tverskaya Ulitsa (Tverskoy)

Tips – 10% is the standard.
Be aware of “Face Control” – common practice of denying entry to clubs and bars based on a person’s appearance.

Alcohol
Beer (Pivo) is the City’s most popular alcoholic drink.  Russky Standard and Stolichnaya are two good brands of vodka.  Vodka shots are popular!! 

Currency
Rouble.  5 denominations with face values of 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 roubles.  Coins – 1, 2, and 5 roubles.  1, 5, 10, & 50 kopeks. 

Banks
Alfa Bank and Sberbank offer best rates.  The cash dispensers at Alfa Bank take Visa and Mastercard and charge no local commission, making them a popular option with visitors.

Time
GMT + 3hrs. 

Temperature
Avg July temp 18c (64f).  Each day we had temperatures over 90f.

Visas
Filling in the visa application form is some taxing exercise as you are asked which countries you have visited over the last 10 years and a whole lot of other background information that makes no sense as why it is required.  Again it is a costly process costing us in the region of £130 each.  We used the Russian National Tourist Office at 202 Kensington Church Street, London.  Tel: 020 79851234 – website: www.visitrussia.org.uk  The application takes some two weeks + to process.

 Airports
Sheremetevo
Domodedovo
Vnukovo
Are approx an hour from city centre by train or car.  All three airports are accessible by the convenient Aeroexpress trains – www.areoexpress.ru

We took the areoexpress from Domodedovo airport to Paveletskaya the expresses’ terminus costing us 320rr each.  We then went on the underground costing us 30rr each.  On the way back we took a taxi from our hotel to Paveletskaya which cost us 250rr each.  Unless you know what you are doing on the underground I would not recommend as it is an extremely busy place.

Flight time from Manchester 3.5hrs.

Street Names
bul – boulevard
nab – embankment
per – lane or side street
pl – square
pr – avenue
ul – street
sh – highway.
The Arbat –ul Arbat is one of Moscow’s oldest streets dating back to the 15th Century.

Moscow Metro
This is one of the busiest and most efficient metro networks in the world and one of the sprawling city’s great assets.  Stations are tourist attractions where concourses and station platforms resemble miniature palaces with chandeliers, sculptures and lavish mosaics.  Most reliable way of travelling in the city:
·       9,300 trains operate per day carrying 8-9m passengers (more than London and New York systems combined)
·       165 stations and 265kms (155m) of track
·       Construction began in Dec 1931 and is still expanding
·       Pay extra for heavy bags etc
·       Metro lines are colour coded and numbered from 1-10.
·       All signs are in Cyrillic
·       When changing lines at an interchange station it is important to know the name of the station on the other line.
·       Tickets are sold for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, or 60 rides.  The fare for a single journey is a flat rate, whether it is a couple of stops or the length of the network. This is R28 I think. It is possible to change as many times as you wish.
·       Tickets are purchased from a Kacca, the counter being situated just inside the metro station.  A multiride card can be gained for slightly cheaper fares.
·       Can get very crowded at peak travelling times.  Trains run from 6am until 1am.
·       There are extensive bus, trolleybus and tram routes.
·       Tickets must be inserted into the punching machine to be valid.

Mosquitoes
We were advised that mosquitoes were a problem but we did not find this.  We had no problems at all.

Websites
Wi-fi is readily available and is almost always free.
www.restoran.ru – restaurant reviews
www.xe.com – exchange rates
Facebook page – Secret Moscow.

Other Information
·       UK Embassy – 495-956-7200  Smolenskaya nab 10 (M) Smolenskaya
·       Universal Emergency No – 112
·       Electricty  220V/50HZ
·       Pharmacies Chain 36.6 uL Novy Arbat 15  (M) Arbatskaya
·       To call internationally from Moscow dial 810 plus the country code (7), the city code (495) and phone no.
·       Publications – Moscow Times, Passport Magazine and Element.
·       Police Officers have the right to stop anyone to check their documents and they do exercise it.  Do not hand over Passport.  Perfectly acceptable to show photocopies of documents.  Again we were never asked for identification.

Conclusion
We enjoyed our few days exploring the centre of the City.  Highlights were the Kremlin and Red Square areas which we visited twice.  We were impressed with so many beautiful and interesting buildings.  Going on the river cruise was another highlight as we saw so much of the city and you are permitted to go off at river stops and come back on again provided you are doing the full trip.

Negatives for us:
·       The complicated visa application form which had to be completed online.
·       The high cost of the visa – totally unnecessary in our opinion.
·       All hotels are costly.
·       Food and drink is also expensive.

Fraser Mackay
31st July, 2013

Asturian House

Remote Emergancy Care

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http://www.documentdirect.co.uk

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