Of course we know that our last blog post was actually way too long ago. Of course there is a lot we actually have to catch up with, but first things first. We are now sitting in beautiful Slovenia and our next adventure just started. We have rented an apartment for a few months in order to clear our minds for the things to come. It’s a beautiful place with nice views to the Slovenian Alps and the Sava river at the same time. So what are we doing here?
About 10 months ago we decided to change plans and head on west instead of going to Japan. So we circled around Mongolia for quite a while and went through Russia before the winter hit Siberia. So by the end of September we finally left this beautiful country with its amazing people. We took the route via St. Petersburg before we finally arrived back in Europe.
As we already told you in our first blog post about Russia half a year ago we had a picture in our mind before we entered. Even though or even because it turned out to be quite wrong, we got
quite interested in Russia. Here we went off, getting our picture corrected in terms of present and past.
I guess we all have heard about the Zars, the Tatars, the Kosaks, Lenin and Stalin. To be honest, we didn’t have a glue what’s the story behind all of them. So visiting the important and less important sites we usually get a little closer to history…
Finally it’s my turn now. After successfully shirking from that task in the last two years, I qualified for writing a guest contribution to the blog with my two
week visit at “Hotel Cookie” this year.
Well, according to my promise to come around once a year, I again asked for the best opportunity to meet and the plan was soon roughly made: I’ll join up the salted-life-travel-association in Mongolia at Ulan Bator and then we are going to continue the tour together towards Russia and around the southern part of Lake Baikal. So let’s go for it.
As I arrive on Sunday morning in Ulan Bator, I directly feel transferred to another world. A really tiny airport and as soon as we leave the city you can guess what kind of landscape is waiting for you in the next days…steppe, steppe and steppe. During the 15 min drive back to the camping pitch I already can spot a blank cattle skull by the roadside. Yes, there is plenty of cattle here…and horses and sheep and goats. The first half of the day we spend in relaxed chats and here and there a cow or some goats visit us at the table. In the afternoon we go to the city. As Wendy is not feeling too well, Jörg and I go for sightseeing without her. One day seems to be sufficient for that. The probably most impressing thing we see is the 25 meter high, golden Buddha statue at Gandantegchinlen Monastery. Afterwards I get a first impression of the Mongolian cuisine, first of all of Chuschur (Хушур, a flat piece of ground meat in dough and fried in fat), which will also be offered at every small yurt next to the road during the following days.
In the last post we told you about our route through northern Mongolia. This time we would like to tell you the rest of the story. Unfortuntely we couldn’t really always enjoy the stunning landscape as we should have. Pretty much half of our electronics broke on the border crossing day. So we were in Mongolia without navigation and camera.
Leaving the Russian Altai was quite a bit of a hassle with border crossing and customs. Eventually we did make it into Mongolia. The way into this wild country was actually Mongolian rough from the beginning. Ten kilometers before we even got to the border control the asphalt ended and we got a glimpse of what’s there to come. The actual border crossing began with just a tire disinfection and ended in a disaster with endless discussions with border control. Well just before closing time everyone wanted to go home and we were in after 8 hours. So right after the border we were invited by a Mongolian guy to have chai with them.
We are traveling a lot, so we are used to new situations and new countries. Anyways… for us most of the countries we visited so far were almost unknown before we entered. We didn’t even know the
capitals of Azerbaijan, Kirgizstan or Kazakhstan….
This time it’s slightly different. We went to Russia. Everyone knows Russia, its big capital Moskva and some basic facts about this huge country. Of course we thought we do as well…
Again we have used a visa completely. Again we have gotten a lot of experiences and again we have a couple of more stories to tell. After entering Kazhachstan between Bishkek and Almaty we have taken the direct way towards Astana. That was quite boring as it was pretty much steppes and small towns. After a few days we arrived in Astana.
Of course we didn’t stay for 2 month in this tiny country for no reason. It was not only the Russian lessons we signed up to. That was awesome, because that way we even got to take part in the traditional Noorus festival.
To find out what has happened so far. Check out our Blogarchive.