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Heading back to Russia


View World Tour 2016 on Glichez's travel map.

Today centered around traveling from Vilnius to Kaliningrad. I had booked a seat on a bus that left Vilnius at 10:00, so I was able to have a leisurely morning. It was raining throughout the morning, but it let up during the time I walked from my hotel to the bus station. There were quite a few people on the bus to Kaliningrad, which surprised me; I hadn't expected there to be that many people interested in making the journey.

When boarding the bus, the driver was surprised to see an American; he just stared at the cover of my passport for a few moments, before finally verifying my ID and ticket. The drive through Lithuania was smooth an uneventful; it was raining the entire drive today. We drove through some beautiful countryside. There was one TV in the bus and the driver put on some Russian movies, which I was unable to follow.

The border crossing proved to be the most interesting part of the day. Leaving Lithuania was a breeze, but entering Russia took some time. The guards searched every part of the bus, opening every compartment possible to search from contraband. When I presented my passport to the border guard, she seemed confused or concerned over something; she spoke no English, so I've no clue what was going on. She called two different people and I only understood three words: American, Moscow, and Belarus. Clearly the fact that I entered Russia through Moscow and then left greater Russia through Belarus was causing more confusion (similar to what I experienced when leaving Belarus). Since Russia and Belarus have no border controls between them, I only have the entry stamp from Russia and the exit stamp from Belarus. She eventually stamped my passport and sent me on my way.

We drove for another three hours before finally arriving in Kaliningrad; the bus trip took nearly seven hours! On the drive into the city I was saddened to see how Soviet-esque the city looked. Kaliningrad has historically been a Prussian and German city; Russian annexed the area after World War Two. I expected to see some charming German buildings, but instead I was treated to an endless sea of Soviet block-style housing with only one or two German buildings tucked away. Not only did the Soviets expel all of the German citizens after the war, but they clearly tried to erase the German heritage.

My first task upon arriving at the bus station was to buy my bus ticket to Gdansk for Tuesday. This was the one bus ticket that I wasn't able to buy in advance when I was planning the trip. None of the tellers spoke English, but luckily I had some screenshots on my phone from the bus website showing where I wanted to go and when (in Russian).

The walk from the bus station to the hotel took around 25 minutes. The hotel is right across the river from the German cathedral and is the nicest hotel I've stayed at. The room is huge, similar to an executive suite!

Posted by Glichez 08:25 Archived in Russia

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