A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Sad Day for Moscow… January 24, 2011

Filed under: Russia — Kelocity @ 7:46 pm
Tags: ,

If you haven’t already heard, there was a bombing today in the Moscow airport and 35 people were killed (a hundred more were injured). The Russian authorities are calling it a Terrorist Attack. Irving and I were in that airport a year and a half ago when we visited Russia on vacation. We stood in the exact place the bomb went off. We walked around that area numerous times borrowing cell phones and trying to find a taxi.

On our two week Contiki trip through Russia, we saw some amazing historical architecture, history and art.IMG_1064

When we were thinking about traveling there, we knew the government was unstable, but we also knew the citizens were good people, looking to rebuild their nation. We saw the beauty in the concrete apartments, and the hope inside the youth. We saw how the country turned images of communism into art-filled parks and museums.

Russia was a difficult country to navigate, but we understood what they had gone through over the past century. We had a great time, and although we were confused by the laws, rules and regulations around us, we still felt safe walking around.

It’s sad that a country that already has a low tourism economy, will now be hit even more by this airport bombing. I really hope in my lifetime, Russia can break through as a tourist destination. It really does have a lot to offer.

Of course I know that there were ten fatal police shootings in our own country today. We are not exempt from the evil in this world. I think that is one of the reasons why we love to travel. We learn to see and appreciate beauty around us. We learn about different cultures, talk to the locals, hear the stories and realize that the majority of people in the world are kind, generous and curious – just like we are.


The Winner of the Celebrity Fitness Giveaway is Erin! YAY! Can’t wait!


St. Petersburg: The Venice of the North September 7, 2009

Filed under: Russia,Travel — Kelocity @ 10:27 pm
Tags: , ,

We continued our drive north to St. Petersburg, and arrived on a very rainy day at Peterhof Palace.

St. Petersburg went through multiple rulers. It was even renamed Leningrad during World War I. We watched a lot of documentaries about this Palace before we left for Russia. We tried best we could to explore the grounds, but because of the rain, our tour got cancelled. For good reason I suppose, check out this rain!
IMG_0156 IMG_1175

But even in the rain, it was still amazing.

One of the highlights of St. Petersburg for me was seeing this memorial dedicated to the victims of the ‘Siege of Leningrad’.

The museum was very nice and had tons of artifacts from the era. It was complelling stuff. This country has been through so much.

The next day, we visited St. Isaac’s Cathedral and walked to the top to see the city from up high. I’m a tad bit afraid of narrow staircases, but the views were worth it.


To the left was the Hotel Astoria; inside there, Adolf Hitler had planned to hold a victory banquet there!


Later, we took a river boat cruise down the Neva to see some of the palaces from the water.

Of course, when in Rome St. Petersburg, you must drink Russian Vodka!
IMG_1255 IMG_1275

Seeing the amazing Hermitage Museum was breathtaking. That place is huge! It used to be the summer residence for the Royal Family!



From there, we headed to the Peter and Paul Fortress. We had a great guided tour of all the historical locations in there. Among the highlights were the tombs of the Romanov family. I’m a total history nerd, and I love hearing about what happened in each place we visit. History comes alive when it’s right in front of you!

And we also checked “Attend a Russian Ballet in Russia” off our bucket list! We saw a great performance of Swan Lake. I didn’t really know what was going on, but the dancing was beautiful, and we had great seats. Plus the theater was incredible. A little history and a little culture. Just the way we like it!

The next day, we said Bon Voyage to Russia and headed into Europe.


Novgorod: The Town in the Middle September 6, 2009

Filed under: Russia,Travel — Kelocity @ 10:06 pm
Tags: , , ,

We spent some time getting to know our Contiki Bus driving from Moscow to Novgorod. But the scenery was really pretty and interesting to look at. During the time of Communism, it was illegal to own your own house or property. Everything was owned by the government and handed out to the citizens. Everything was the same. Everything was even. But when the Iron Curtain fell, people started moving out to the country side and building their own houses for the first time.

Around sunset, we arrived at our destination: Novgorod. It looked like Ireland!

There was a lot of damage done to the town during World War II. It was occupied by Germany at the time, and the city was bombed a lot. But slowly, they have rebuilt it, and it’s almost back to it’s original glory. That gold spire was plated in 1408!

We had a nice night’s sleep in a really nice hotel before we headed off to St. Petersburg (the city I was looking forward to the most!)


Moscow: An Introduction to Russia September 3, 2009

Filed under: Russia,Travel — Kelocity @ 9:55 pm
Tags: , , ,

We were really excited to go on this Contiki Trip. I’m not sure what put the bug about Russia in our ear, but once it was there, there was no going back. We love the ‘off the beaten path’ locations and “Russia & The Baltic” was right up our alley. I heard they changed the itinerary from what it was back in 2009, and based on our experience, I think it’s a really good choice. We loved our tour, but I think they just made a great trip even better with the change.

We flew from LAX to Moscow through Frankfurt and found our way to our hotel. It’s always a little bit of a culture shock landing in a new country, but we were able to navigate just fine to where we needed to go. We met up with our tour group , had a nice dinner and hit the sack (that’s a huge time difference from LA!)

The next day, we hit the ground running after breakfast. First stop: The Moscow Metro Tour. It may sound silly to have a guided tour of a subway system, but these trains are really something special. During the Cold War, these stations were “Palaces for the Poor”. They were hugely ornate rooms, plated in gold and decorated with statues. It was one of the few places in the city that were designed just for the average citizens.

The beautiful paint and the marble walls were meant to be an easy reminder for the Russians to support their government (even if the government didn’t really support it’s people). The metros are extremely efficient, a new train comes about every 30 seconds, and each one is packed to the brim with people. You don’t even need to hang on, you’re so wedged in there, you weren’t going anywhere!

Then we got a tour of the Missile and Military Museum. It was a rare look into the government’s side of the Cold War.

They had all kinds of military paraphernalia on display. It was both eerie and intriguing at the same time. What a neat way to gain perspective on such a worldly event.
IMG_0027 IMG_0944

Then we headed to one of the most iconic places in Moscow: Red Square.

The buildings and the square itself were really interesting to look at. We spent some free time wandering around. This is adjacent to the Kremlin, so the area was really photogenic.



Inside the square is Lenin’s Tomb. We really wanted to go inside, but the gates closed before we got our chance. This photo was taken from inside the GUM shopping mall, through a window in one of the stores!

Behind Red Square is the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral. I can’t believe I was standing right in front of it!

The next day, we got a great tour of the Kremlin. It’s crazy to think of all the history that happened there. So many tsars and emperors walked through these streets.


From there, we headed north to Novgorod, a cute little town halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg.


%d bloggers like this: