A Room For The Night


This blog entry about the events of Sunday, August 01, 2004 was originally posted on August 07, 2004.

DAY 288:  With my traveling buddy Sam gone, so went my room to go halfsies on in a prime location in Moscow, right outside Red Square.  In true The Global Trip fashion, I had failed to make a reservation for the night in town, but just kept my bags in the hotel storage and hoped I could find a cheaper opening in a relatively convenient location before spaces filled up as the day went on.  More importantly that that, I was to leave on the Trans-Siberian Railway the next day and I didn’t exactly have my train tickets yet.

Sokol Tours in Boston, who arranged the train tickets and accommodations for my railway journey through Siberia, Mongolia and China worked in a network of other local agencies in other cities.  Sokol’s partner in Moscow was SWTS Travel, located in a busy commercial area away from the city center. 

Being with Sam for three days did me good because without him I might not have gotten the hang of the Cyrillic alphabet and the Metpo (“Metro” in Cyrillic) signs written in it to get me to the travel agency.  There was a line outside the door and about ten Russian guys were waiting their turn to get inside.  I waited for about an hour until I realized that they were waiting for the bank services (also in that office) and anyone there for travel services could just walk in.  Tatiana, the agent there gave me two tickets for the first and third legs of my journey — the others I’d get from other agents along the way.

Okay, let’s go find a room so you don’t wind up on the streets tonight, I thought to myself.  I took the Metpo to another new neighborhood which held the only hostel listed in my Lonely Planet guidebook that was on the map of central Moscow, hoping for the best — but the woman in the building there turned me down.

Okay, where to now?  A cheap hotel?  Okay.  I consulted the guide and lo and behold, one “budget” hotel was right outside the train station I’d depart from the next day.  I almost rushed off to it, but realized I was in the neighborhood of the English bookstore I wanted to go to, and went there instead to get a Russian phrasebook; the three phrase pages in the back of my Lonely Planet guidebook were inadequate.

Damn, I’m hungry.  I haven’t eaten anything yet.  What’s more important, food or lodging?  I rushed off on the Metpo for the Hotel Leningradskaya, which did not look like a “budget hotel” at all.  Lonely Planet described it as follows:  “Arriving at this looming Stalinist skyscraper in the dead of night is likely to strike fear into your heart, but in the daylight this showpiece Soviet hotel retains much of its grand 1950s style and is worth considering as a base for a couple of nights.”

It also said a single room would be $26 USD, but when I registered it was actually $87, but I splurged on it, figuring I’d make back the money in the lack of taxis I would have had to take from a hostel farther away.  Plus, the building lobby had a grocery store.

Lonely Planet had it right about the hotel’s description though; in the day it really did show off the grandeur of 1950’s Soviet style (picture above) — at night it could have set the stage for a horror movie.  Designed by L. Polyakov and constructed in 1954, the hotel had classic bronze lattices in its lobby, some so detailed they appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records (said Channel 1, the hotel information channel).  My room was nice with a private bathroom, old retro furnishings and a TV that let you watch ten seconds of porn without paying every time you switched to Channel 13 from one of the free channels.  Porn or no porn, it was one of the swankiest places I’ve ever stayed in (to date).

WITH LODGING OUT OF THE WAY, food was the next priority.  I thought about splurging on sushi — which has become quite the craze in Moscow recently (there are sushi places all over) — but settled on fried chicken from Rostik’s, Russia’s fast food fried chicken chain, in the mall food court instead, since I was already splurging on my room for the night.  I did some internet and then retrieved my bags back at the Hotel Rossiya baggage storage room, lugged them on the Metpo and settled into my new room in the Hotel Leningradskaya.

The rest of the day and night I just did the responsible thing and sat at my room’s desk and worked on my laptop, writing, typing and sorting through photos for The Blog.  I didn’t get as much done as I wanted though because I was too busy flipping the TV to Channel 13 every ten seconds.

Next entry: Body Language

Previous entry: Encounters With Lenin

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Comments for “A Room For The Night”


    There you go, seven more entries… hope this ties you all over until I can type up the next batch…

    P.S.  I was forced to pay a bribe on the train here by fake or corrupt cops…  I suppose it’s the new version of the good ol’ fashioned train robbery…

    Blog you later!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/07  at  01:20 PM

  • Hope you aren’t bowling and blogging at the same time smile

    Posted by Liz  on  08/07  at  04:55 PM

  • third! whoo!

    Posted by hanalei  on  08/07  at  06:21 PM

  • Good to see the updates Erik, and have fun in china… rember the prayer flags bro! send me a e-mail if your by Alaska so i can put you up for a coupple of days

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/08  at  05:44 AM

  • That hotel looks like Empire State building on a bender!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/08  at  06:27 AM

  • that channel 13 ain’t the channel 13 at home…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/08  at  01:58 PM

  • That hotel is awesome looking…

    Damn, I’ve always wanted to go to Novosibirsk! You didn’t go through Uzbekistan, did you?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/09  at  01:16 AM

  • Good stuff… I feel like I could be tied over for at least a few days! Nice work.

    I think that building’s kinda funky outside & in. But then I’m seeing it from half-a-world-away. It looks harmless at 640x480!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/09  at  03:02 AM

  • Noelle: Kazakhstan is directly south of Russia, and Uzbekistan is south of that. smile  I assume Erik didn’t go there, because it would be a big detour.  smile

    Posted by Liz  on  08/09  at  03:37 AM

  • Hey, Borat is from Kazakhstan, isn’t he?

    (Does anyone else watch Ali-G?)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/09  at  03:58 AM

  • I know exactly where they are - my mom went through Uzbekistan on the Trans-Siberian RR in the 60s, which is why I was wondering. I was curious as to if the train was different - different technology, etc. smile

    Thanks, though! And, Kazakstan is only South of a portion - more over Afghanistan and such. smile Uzbekistan is a matriarchal society - b/c of the silk trade. There’s a random fact for y’all!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/09  at  08:20 AM

  • KYLE:  Hey man… glad you could join the Fellowship of The Blog…  pass the word around, and keep in touch!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/09  at  10:36 AM

  • GREETINGS FROM IRKUTSK, RUSSIA in the Lake Baikal region:  No, I haven’t entered any country other than Russia along the Trans-Siberian…

    For those who care, I’ve answered all your questions on the past seven entries in a single comment at the end of each one (not by individual name).  Also, I’ve fixed the photos you’ve “whined” about.  wink

    I’m still behind on The Blog, but given my homestay situation here, I foresee myself with time to catch up within the next day or two…  (I’m here for four.)

    Stay tuned for more!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/09  at  10:40 AM

  • You’re in a homestay? That’s awesome! I miss my Russian homestay family from St Petersburg… I need to find them. You’re giving me good ideas on finding them… well, the idea TO find them…

    I’ve always wanted to go to Lake Baikal - it’s super deep, isn’t it?

    Thank you for all the answers to the questions - great way to wake up in the morning!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/09  at  05:01 PM

  • FUCK FUCK FUCKITTY FUCK - well excuse my language..BUT local CBS here in the NY metro is showing a boring ass Yankess/Rangers game instead of AR5 tonite….

    I’m pissed!!! so I’m watching Globetrekker North Thailand/Laos on PBS…

    damn yankees!!! who cares?!?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/10  at  05:38 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
Body Language

Previous entry:
Encounters With Lenin


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