Monthly Archives: September 2014

Russian Banya experience – Moscow August 2003

I came across some travel notebooks from previous adventures. This is the second from a trip to Russia visiting an old school friend who was working there.

Gypsy cabs – Lada car owners making extra cash.

400 roubles gets you a cubicle for clothing – all 5 of us in one. Into main area – marble like benches, large plastic bowls. Towels and modesty off and shower. Into hot room lined with pine, pine steps and staging – heat rises. Varying sizes and shapes – many with super tans. Women in charge opens metal door in the wall to the fires of hell and adds water to raise the temperature and humidity. She throws essential oils at and around us. After a while more water is added to the hot coals and the humidity soars – all bar the most hardy exit fast. Head to the ‘pool’. Very cold, a shock but welcome exhilarating experience after next hot session. In main hall pampering begins. Body scrubs, face masks, hair conditioning, scrubbing. Option to gently and not so gently hit all over with ‘bring your own’ birch and juniper branches. Silky smooth skin and clear nasal passages. Must be a welcome escape and relief from the bitter winter cold. Fur coats and jackets abandoned for towels and tea-cosy hats. Coming out would be awful.

A vignette from a train – Moscow to St Petersburg August 2003

I came across some travel notebook from previous adventures. This is the first from a trip to Russia visiting an old school friend who was working there.

Triple glazing

One half of carriage faces backwards

Two seats on each side, 64 in all

Carriage 11 – many more!


AC took a while

Man with crisps and drinks

Smelly, undesirable toilet

Plenty of leg room

Table pulls up between chairs

Window blinds

Non-opening windows

Wooden houses amid small allotments

Varying in size and style

Larger the further out of Moscow

Trees, lots of trees!

Silver birch

Scots pine?

Cloud cover, full

2 ½ hours from Moscow

Houses seem to have double windows

Its summer

Green seats covered with blue swirly patterned stretch covers. My water bottle tucked into the seat pocket along with an empty crisp packet. The air previous filled with acid toilet smells is tainted with strong, sweet perfume as a passenger returns to her seat. Two older ladies in front: one blond, the other dark wearing a hair bun net and frill. Across the passage what seems like a family. Dad sleeps with chair fully back. Mum in seat behind dressed in pink is petite, phone around her neck, heads to the toilet. Waves of previous smell wafts back. Her daughter, equally petite sits by the window reading a very old book and making pencil marks at foot of page. She has and still is eating small orange coloured fruits – slightly larger than a marble. Splitting their apparently soft flesh with her nails showing a small stone. She sucks away the flesh and moves on to the next one. Mum has returned to her seat now in different pink clothing. No other travellers are visible. Ruth dozes rocking with the jerky movement of the train. Two guide books lie on the table promising delights and sights.