Monday, August 9, 2010

St Petersburg

Monday night... I'm in Russia. I was supposed to get here by 1st Class rail travel with Finnish Railways. Two hours into the journey the conductor announced "I have some really bad news. Because of electrical problems on the line, we have to go by bus" ! It took three hours longer than planned.

My next difficulty... my ATM card is not working in Russian machines. I have tried six different banks. I called my UK bank, and was assured there is nothing wrong with the account. So, it's the card itself ? I will try my NZ bank card tomorrow. I do have 30 Euros in cash to exchange.

My further difficulty... my substitute padlock is also broken ! There are three number wheels to set the combination. One of them spins freely and doesn't click onto any number. So I am now using the cheap Chinese lock that was supplied with the bag. It's completely useless of course, and could be broken off by a child. So, I must buy a lock here in Russia.. assuming I can get any money out.

My MAIN difficulty.. the ongoing pollution in Moscow. I will decide in the next 48 hours whether to go there on Friday. If not, I can spend the time here in St Petersburg. It would mean having to cancel a flight from Moscow to London and book another from St P to London.

There continue to be conflicting forecasts. Some say the situation will improve mid-week. The BBC website's forceast has rain from Wednesday. Others have brilliant sunshine and no rain for the next ten days. I don't want to put my health at risk. It would be a shame, though, to get so close but miss seeing Moscow... always assuming there is enough visibility to actually see anything there !

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