Andy's Meanderings 2008 travel blog


Hi folks! In Sochi now, which is on the Black Sea. But I have some bad news.... its not Black at all! It actually Blue!! I bet the Red Sea isn't Red either, lying bastards!! Someone needs a good talking too about this!

By the way before I start HA WAY THE LADS!!! Get in!! Been waiting almost 12 months for the news that Sunderland survive in the Pemier League and it came thru the other night, thanks to brother Keith! I've been celebrating ever since and my Liver and Lungs are having emergency meetings with each other about a possible revolt!! Liver had a quiet word this morning but I think I may have sorted things out, I am, nevertheless, on my toes!! I'll keep you posted.

So, let me try, if I possibly can, to take you down the path I was on last night! I hope I can do this justice because at times last night I just sat in awe thinking :"How did I get here? Am I on another planet?" I'll try my best but believe me it is better than any words I can write to explain it.

I left Volgograd in the afteroon. Luda managed to come down for 30 mins or so to see me off, which was so nice. I can't explain how good her and her family were and I had a great time because of her in that city/town! Great stuff.

I get in my cabin and there are two Ruskies in there already. Drinking beer and looking well and truely pissed. They can't speak much/any English but one of them can speak Spanish, so we speak Spanish, coz I'm so fluent in that tongue!! So its Roberto and Sergey! Sergey is massive, I mean big and fat. Head like a robbers dog. And scares all over it! They offer me beer so I have beer, they offer me food, so I have food. Its Russian Easter and they have all kinds of food, and I mean loads. Salads, meat, eggs the lot. All I have is my mash potatoe instant meal that didn't see the light of day!! So in return I suggest I buy them a drink in the dining cart. We go and have a beer and they then suggest Vodka! (Oh no, this is getting serious!)

We go back with bottle in hand, and they bring some mates. This is where it got a bit weird. Things started to get heated in a sense, not violent, but just loud and frustrating. Between trips to the smoking area and drinks in the cabin, Roberto was not happy I couldn't speak Russian, or Spanish and was getting pissed off! I used my wild card again and called Luda to explain what was wrong. They talk for awhile and all is good, well Roberto, who was a great guy is now laughing and hugging me, so I assume all is good. Luda gets on the phone to me and says "Andy, be very careful, these are officers from Air force and they are very very drunk, I think you should not trust them!" I say I'm fine and what was the issue! Turns out they just wanted to tell me it was Russian Easter and they think I'm a cool guy and want to share with me! I fucking knew that!! Anyway kisses all round and the cameras come out and I'm the monkey in the middle!

We are getting pissed and having a great time. Sergey shows me his phone. It has a video clip of him in the Russian army serving in Chechnia (not sure of spelling) He is on the video shooting at people and all this shit is happening, nothing crazy just lots of guns and tanks and guys playing guitar!!?? It had a great sound track to it and I actually tried to blue tooth it to my phone, but being a phone spastic I'm not sure it worked. Anyway... Sergey is a bit traumatised by the war and needs to drink to help! As you do. He can't sleep at night and has bad dreams. Its amazing what you find out when you don't know other peoples language!! haha! So he is getting really drunk!

Anyway, all going along swimmingly when, the train Militia come down the corridor. This young twat looks at me and just says "Passports" I show him my passport and documents etc, and he calls his boss over. Sergey and Roberto mean time are going mental! No idea what they were saying but it was nearly on. So the Militia guys have guns and there's all this yelling going on and I'm thinking this is fucking it! I get dragged away, well not dragged, but taken away into a room where they ask where have I been, why, where to next etc etc. All was pretty good, but I had to buy the boss a bottle of Cognac! I aint arguing with a guy with a gun or any Militia in Russia, so he got his bottle and I got told to go to bed and be quiet!! Funny thing is I wasn't even making any noise, I can't even speak the language!

Next thing you know, another guy ends up in our cabin. He is pissed as a fart and looks like a complete and utter Psycho! For some reason he had a problem with me as well! Maybe coz I'm not Russian, but he starts having a go about me to the other guys!! So here I am pissed off my face with officers from the Air force, having been done over by the Militia and now this guy wants to start. I was so pissed off. I just said to him in Russian, "Whats the fucking problem!" Well... I think I did at least. Sergey and Roberto are saying no problem no problem, but there was. He then puts his hand out, shakes my hand, hugs me and kisses me and wishes me a happy fucking Easter!!! WTF??? So what happens next? Out comes his phone and he wants a picture as well!!! hahaha! Its a bad dream!!

So we keep heading to the smoking area in between the carriage and Roberto is asking about my parents. "Australy? Australy?" I say yes yes but now pointing to sky say in Heaven. He asked again and made some signs to signify dying etc and I say yes yes! He went fucking nuts!! Started punching the walls and yelling, hugging me and saying sorry etc etc. Tears in his eyes, the lot! I'm like, "Its ok mate, don't stress, its alright, relax!:" He was beside himself! I'm like - hey there my fucking parents!! Easy!! So we get back to the cabin and he tells every mother in the train I'm from Australy and I have no parents! People were hugging me and kissing me, giving me more Vodka!! It was just so surreal!! I almost got upset myself, but I just couldn't help but laugh. Why do people have to asked about parents in this country?? They must have close family ties or something - but I've decided I aint telling anyone anymore. Yes they are at home waiting for their Son to come home to them!!!

So after awhile Roberto and Norman Bates go to sleep and they snore louder than I have ever heard anyone snore. I actually recorded it, it was so loud!

Sergey decides he can't sleep and he needs to drink beer! Apparently if you start with beer and go to Vodka you don't go back to Beer, otherwise you have a bad head next day! I found that out just a tad too late in Russia! Been here almost 4 weeks, thanks for the tip guys!! Anyway, me and Sergey, coz I am now his new drinking buddy and he loves me very much, go in search of beer. The dining cart is about 3 carriages away and we stumble our way towards it. Like I said he is a big massive guy, a boxer in fact I found out later, heavy weight without a doubt! So anyway, we bang and crash our way to the dining cart and just as we got close who opens his door to see what all the noise is, but Mr Fucking Militia himself!!! I shit me self! I thought thats it, I'm knackered. I nearly actually ran away to hide under my covers! He goes mental at us and has a right good go at Sergey. He takes us to inbetween the carriages and Sergey somehow settles him down enough to get him to go and get us some beer??!! Gives him some money and winks at me saying "Andrey, very goods, very goods."

Mr Militia comes back empty handed as it happens so he obviously couldn't get any beer, even with his authority or so called authority. So no beer. Only Vodka left. We went back to the snoring cathedral and enjoyed one or two more vodkas and then he just fell asleep. I couldn't sleep coz Sergey was as loud as the other two with his snoring and thats when I just lay there thinking "What the Fuck Just happened to me!!"

Roberto and Norman are up at 5.30am to get off the train at their stop. Woke us up to say goodbye etc. I'd had maybe 2 hours, tops, sleep and managed to get one or maybe two more before Sergey wakes up and says "Andrey, Andrey. Beer? Beer?" I thought no way known. Anyway he is a persistant man so I went with him to the dining cart. He orders two beers and then asked if I want a Vodka! No way, beer is fine "No Vodka!" He orders a large Vodka, like Large large, maybe 5/6 nips. Straight down the hatch. I sip my beer, feeling sick as a dog and dying to go back to bed. He orders another large vodka. Then another one and then another one! Four he had! I was amazed and horrified at the same time. He was legless as well by the way.

I ended up going back to bed and leaving him there so I have no idea if he contined drinking more or not. But he got back to the cabin and collapsed in a heap into bed! Gone, good night Irene!

He woke briefly every now and then and went for a smoke, said some words but generally he was out!

At my stop he gets up and helps me with my bags etc and gives the taxi driver that collared me a mouthful before he gives me a massive hug and says goodbye. Amazing!! I reckon he'd still be on the train now!

So Sochi is nice. Its hot, I have thongs, shorts and tshirt on. I found a nice place to stay and had a look around this afternoon. Its a holiday resort place for Russians, sort of there Surfers Paradise if you like, but no where near it. And no Japanese! The beach, or so called beach, is rock, or pebbles. Its not quite summer yet so alot of cleaning and sprucing up is being done, but its nice enough and I'm happy to get some rays after being cold for so long!

I checked out if I could catch a ferry to Istanbul from here but I can't. They don't start until Summer season, and I can't wait that long!! I have to sail to Trabzon, which is in Eastern Turkey and try and get to Istanbul from there. I have a plan to maybe move inland in Turkey and break up the bus trip to Istanbul (20 hours or something stupid like that!) by seeing a place I have read about where you stay in caves etc. Sounds pretty cool so I'll see what I can do. Either way I ain't going to Istanbul as planned. So, not quite off the rails but a small detour is required. No drama!

I am knackered so I'm going for some food and then bed. I will have the snoring ringing in my head I'm sure when my head hits the pillow, but at least I'll be back in the real world and not on some walt disney train ride!! What an experience!!

Only a few days left in Russia, which is nice. I have really enjoyed it in a big way, but ready to move on now. As you know there have been down times, but generally the highs have beaten the lows by miles. The people are hard work, but I have manged to make a Rusky smile every day of being here. But the hardest thing is the language. My fault coz I don't speak Russian, but not many people speak English and without the help of both Elena and Luda I think I would have stuffed up and possibly not made it this far. Their help has really been immeasurable, and I enjoyed my time when I was with both of them also coz it was so much easier to do things and get around. But generally the people have been cool. No dramas and the people that can speak English will always try and help or talk to you, which just shows that maybe they do get a bad wrap and yes - they do laugh and smile alot!!

Don't think I'll be back in a hurry, but Im glad I have done what I have done thus far.

Bring on Turkey!!

Take care and be good, and leave that Vodka alone! Its bloody bad for you!

Cheers Andy.

Deb - Great to hear. I'm sure Renata is missing her all night Saturday jobs watching the lads play!! Well done!! You have set a trend that needs to continue next season!!



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