Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Enjoying a quick plane change in Copenhagen on our way to Paris from Moscow
The airport is so plush and we feel so much like being home!
Yet prices are scary and we are back in very expensive world!
Few snacks and couple sandwiches.....50 dollars....yak!
In couple hours we will be in Paris where the kids and Carol will be roaming the city and museums while I will be working at the Paris SX!
Don't feel sorry for me.I Will take a SX race over any museums......lol

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Moscow !

Stepping off the train, I had no idea what we were all in for arriving in Moscow. We were so cozy in our train life but it was time to get our walking shoes on again and find out what makes this city tick. I have to say it is such a stunning city. Contrary to my preconceived ideas of what it could be (gray, sad, maybe a little behind the times-shame on me!!), it is anything but, it is colorful and so rich in history and now, just plain rich. People are so stylish, with our limited around the world wardrobe (2 pairs of shoes each) and some warm sporty-wear, we really felt out of place among these hip gorgeous people.
We set out to the most famous starting place, the Red Square. We toured the Basil Cathedral, the one that looks like a chocolate factory from the outside, and were awed by the Greek Orthodox frescoes and icons adorning every square inch of the cathedral. It was gorgeous and mysterious.
One place we absolutely needed to see before leaving Moscow was the Kremlin. I didn’t even know what the Kremlin was, exactly. I just knew it was mentioned numerous times in one of my favorite childhood shows, “Get Smart”. We stood at the ticket office and were approached by a local guide by the name of Lydia. With her thick Russian accent, she offered to guide us through the Kremlin. We hesitated for a moment and then agreed on a price. She was an amazing guide feeding us with volumes of history. She made mention many times about Ivan the Terrible and his seven wives and his terrible deeds. She brought the Kremlin to life for us! I wanted to hug her afterwards because she made our visit so worthwhile! The Kremlin is likened to our White house. Russia’s president resides here and 2,000 government employees come here to work. The Kremlin was originally a fortress (it is what it means in Russina) and the Russian Tsars resided here. All were crowned in one of the 5 cathedrals that are inside the Kremlin. We visited all 5. Originally there were more cathedrals but since Stalin did not like churches, he had them destroyed. There was a lot of talk about how awful Napoleon was and how he stole a lot of gold and jewels from the Kremlin. He turned some of the most beautiful buildings into horse stables and used one of the cathedrals as his wine cellar. He eventually left because he couldn’t withstand the bitter cold.
We heard that food was terrible here, but we have enjoyed it thoroughly. We’ve eaten with the locals at some great Russian buffets so we can point and choose. We found this works best when you don’t speak the language. Eric loves the stuffed peppers and borscht and I love beet salad with capers. The kids like the chicken soup and meatballs. Its been fun to experiment and its all been really good.
We will leave tomorrow filled with beautiful images of this opulent city and a longing to come back again one day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

From Russia with love.....and pictures!

Enjoying very much our Moscow stay> Check some pictures below before Carol comes back with more details of our long week end in Moscow Enjoying great russian food in popular democratic Russian restaurant
Red square at night

Alec and Luca trying to pick up couple Russian girls while talking to a dead bear skin (click on pix to expand)

Luca dreaming in front of an exotic car at Millionaire fair (The boys are becoming car crazy!)

The Metro in Moscow is spectacular.....we use it to go everywhere!

This is kind of a cool story..... we ended in front of this billborad by accident and I could not hide my excitment about being in Moscow the week end of the " Moscow Millionaire fair".... (Extravaganza show known world wide and especially in Robb Report...Lol!)
While I was explaining what was the MF to Carol and kids a person went by us and said "yes he is right"!We engaged in a conversation and the Dutch gentleman was the founder/owner of a Luxury watch company named Aspen! http://www.aspenjewelryandwatches.com/
He invited us to the show and gave us 4 tickets......Thanks Renee, we had a great time thanks to you!

biggest canon in the world inside the Kremlin

Medvedev pad inside Kremlin.....Putin does not leave in Kremlin anymore
On a side note: We learned that the Russian are still upset at Napoleon for trashing Kremlin

Mummy what are those ladies dressed in fur doing walking on catwalk?????
This was Luca first fashion show...it was awesome

Alec could not hide his joy about seeing fashion show

Back of red square

red square...Spectacular

other side of red square

trying to find out our entry to Kremlin...only 2 gates and 70 acres

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Welcome to Mockba

Another black and white picture (gregoire' joke) to celebrate our arrival at terminal point!
We are in Europe now!
Looking forward to a long week end in the Russian capitol.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Train Adventure!!

First off, I have to apologize to my lovely husband for alll of the trepidation I had for this train adventure!!  It has been a wonderful experience that I will always cherish, so thank you baby for bringing me out of my comfort zone!!

Train Survival!

Do bring a great bottle of wine, or you could go local and more elegant and bring champagne and caviar!  We opted for peanut butter and nutella on little  toasts.

Do get on the good side of the providnistas by buying from their mini market set up in their sleeping quarters.  Then, you have broken the ice and can charge your electronics and do as you please without dirty looks.  On our 3rd leg to Moscow ours were sweethearts.

Do buy up noodle boxes and instant potatoes as a mainstay diet.

Do get off the train at longer stops to experience buying from the local baboushkas. 

Do get back on the train on those short stops or you won't see your family in days and seeing that we all get off the train in flipflops, to the amusement of the locals, that would not be fun.

Do bring a bowl for a daily sponge bath (something I really appreciated!).

Most importantly, do bring your sense of humor and you'll fare very well!
And finally do not forget:
This is not for everyone to enjoy unless you have some camping training!
150 hours in a train (the distance between Key west and Anchorage) requires a bit of crazyness that we fortunately gladly have!
Also as final words we could say that is possible to do the transiberian without a shower.......as long as you took one before getting on the train! (Rule forgotten by couple of our comrades neighbours)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Our friendly train

50 hours done, 30 to go to Mockba!
Having fun on the train track!
Time is almost flying by.....

Siberia, our first steps in Russia

We woke up to snow as we rolled into the Irkutsk train station. We were booted off the train by our strict provenistas (train conductors) and we threw on every bit of clothing we could find and haphazardly stumbled off the train to avoid getting yelled at.  Eric was told to "go to bed!" the night before. It was a flashback to college dormroom days where we kept our rooms open and invited a party in whenever possible! The provonistas did not appreciate us!
Our Siberian guide, Lina, took us to our homestay an hour away (next to Lake Baikal) where our hostess greeted us with a stack of crepes and some of her rhubarb jam and sour cream, better known here as blinis.  It reminded the boys of their Mamie in France.  Her home was impeccable and her cooking was delicious. We were in heaven! All bundled up, we had a great hike to town to see the local museum about Lake Baikal which holds 20 percent of the world's fresh water and is 5,000 feet deep. At the end of the day we bathed and warmed up the traditional Siberian way with a Banya, basically a sauna. Each home has their own detached banya and an outhouse in the garden as running water is very expensive with the freezing temperatures and long winters.
Our second day in Irkutsk we spent walking around town on streets with names like Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin.  Every other woman on the street looked like a model. The men looked like they stepped out of a Bond film. People were definately not oppressed but no one smiles.  People in the hospitality business give you the feeling you are annoying them. Its so fun to witness. Now, on to the continuation of our Trans Siberian journey to Moscow with 80 hours ahead of us in cozy quarters.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Having breakfast in the transiberian

The "Bordeaux" bottle is for dinner, not bkf

Transiberian the big leg (80 hours)

Leaving Irkoukst for Moscow
Be there Thurday night!
A lot of relaxing and reading in the schedule

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Irkoutsk dragon with his 2 cubs

Fun MISC. facts of the trip

Most of asia has all traffic light connected to a Screen timer showing you how many seconds left of each cycle.....very safe for drivers

Australia and all Asia do not switch brake side for Bicycles and Motorcycles!(like USA and most Europe)
The front brake is ALWAYS on the right side for both....(Rule we apply at home on all our 2 wheels vehicule)

Australia 1: Pretty weird to have the smallest coin in Australia having the least value, 2 dollars is the size of a quarter while a quarter is 3 time the size of 2 dollars..

Australia 2: Time zone change in 30 minutes not hours.....very difficult to keep trak of time zone when you are in 30 minutes increments..

Mongolia and Russia are buying tons of used cars from Japan....ok not so odd!
Yet, they drive like us in US on the left side of road and have more cars with steering wheel on the right side on the roads.....very confusing! (driving a left hand drive car is a status symbol since most likely you bought the car new!)

Prices for all major brand are global ...sadly!
you will pay the same price for an original pair of Nikes or Oakleys anywhere in the world..from Sydney to Beijiing to Irkoutsk.....
How can they afford an 100 dollars pair of shoes in some of those countries is wild.......yet all big stores are full

Pictures Lake Baikal /Irkoukst Siberia

Luca preparing snowball in front of giant Irkoustk statue (Lenine?)
The legend says: if you wash your face in lake baikal freezing water you add 10 years to your life
Luca playing with russian friend
Alec and Luca trying to impress the bear
Siberian home
the harbor in Lake Baikal......should we go for caviar?
The wood heated sauna....only way to wash around here....we had a blast going all together
Enjoying a great meal
does it look cold?????yes it was very cold, kind of like Siberia!
9am , nothing better than a dozen "crepes" to wake up (very thin pancakes)
6 am arriving in Irkoutsk in snow storm

Train trip from Mongolia to Russia

luca playing with little friends in train
great scenery at russian border
luca using his brother as a pillow
welcome to russia
Alec waiting at russian border

From Russia with love .......and patience

Ok bad news first, we have a ton of pictures that can not be downloaded or very very slowly thru russian internet!
We may have the same issue we had in China! but we will be patient

This is the only bad news, we had a great time travelling from Mongolia and patience we learned going thru the russian border (it took 10 hours of stand by)
Nevertheless the mood of the group we were with in the russian carriage was upbeat and fun!
(us + couple of English people, 1 australian and 3 German girls)
We got picked up in Irkutsk upon arrival at 6 am and went on toward Lake Baikal the largest frest water lake in the world and the coldest.....barely above freezing as we speak!
we stayed with a lovely Siberian Lady who fed us like kings.(great home food that was very welcome after the chinese food!
We walked around the lake in siberian temperature and chilled with our host watching ice skating on TV.
Carol will come back asap with more colors on those few days!

Pictures from Mongolia

Look at what we saw in the snow storm in Mongolia......how cool is that?
Visibility was close to zero!
beginning of snowstorm
a family we visited in Mongolian desert

Carol negociating the trike for me
If you make it start Ill buy it!

Walking toward a village before the snowstorm
Luca riding !
"Steve mc Queen" ready to roam the Mongolian desert
Outside of our Gers
Inside of Gers...really cute
Buddhist temple in UB...Dalai Lama was here 4years
Temple in UB
Alec wondering about a YAK milkshake
Incredible...each carriage is lifted at Mongolian border for a change of wheels (Chines train dont fit european standard)
Luca Chilling while Carol enjoy scenery