We have less than a week left out of the 9.5 months of travel (boo!), but we're in St Petersburg with Fran's Mum & Dad (hurrah!). Despite the rain we've spent quite a few hours walking the streets and seeing some of the wonderful treasures in some of the Tsars' palaces.
Our last train rides through european Russia were uneventful. The Ural mountains were quite low and rolling at the point that we officially moved from Asia to Europe which made a change from the ubiquitous forests and occasional fields. We had a few days in Yekaterinburg (including a night at the ballet) which is famous as the murder site of the last Tsar's family. The kremlin at Nizhny Novogorod was interesting but we will remember the place more for the frustrations we encountered with officialdom and language issues! Suzdal with its 30 churches was an amazing small town 3 hours from Moscow with surrounding fields that reminded us of Bedfordshire.
Moscow didn't disappoint, unless we are talking about the weather - wet!. Our homestay with Zoya, a lively pensioner, was memorable; St Basil's Cathedral was very quirky and the Kremlin large and imposing. Sadly beggars were very evident, as was the wealth in the form of SUVs and swish cars - although they were generally stuck in traffic jams. Our visit to the Gulag Museum was a poignant reminder of the number of people who suffered brutally and died during the building of certain parts of trans-siberian railway in the 50s.
So ... we've off to a Verdi opera tomorrow night at the Mariinsky Theatre and then head out early on Friday for a final 8-hour bus ride to Tallinn (Estonia).