Trans Siberian Railway | Kazan - 820km

Moscow (0km) -> Kazan (820km) -> Yekaterinburg (1,814km) -> Tomsk (3,664km) -> Irkutsk (5,185km) -> Ulaanbaatar (6,464km) -> Beijing (8,015km) -> Hong Kong (10,265km) 

*The km count is based on how far I am from since I started in Moscow, not the actual km marks on the Trans Siberian and Trans Mongolian Railway. 
  • Moscow: Kremlin, Red Square, State History Museum, Izmailovo Market
  • Kazan: Kul Sharif Mosque, Kazan Kremlin, National Museum of the Republic State of Tatarstan, Bauman Street, Epiphany Bell Tower, Nizhny Kaban Lake
  • Yekaterinburg: the Europe and Asia border
  • Tomsk: Tomsk State University
  • Irkutsk: Listvyanka Dog Sledding, Lake Baikal via the Great Baikal Trail and the Circum Baikal Railway
  • Ulaanbaatar: Genghis Kahn Square, Winter Palace, National Museum of Mongolia, Gandan Monastery, Terelj National Park - Genghis Kahn Statue, Vultures, Camels, Traditonal Mongolia clothing, Turtle Rock, Lunch in a Yurt, horse riding, Ariyabal Meditation Temple
  • Beijing: Lama Temple, Forbidden Palace, Tiananmen Square, Great Wall of China, Old Summer Palace, China High Speed Train

March 21 (Mon) Kazan 820km
The train arrived early in the morning in Kazan at 8am. It was sunny but freezing cold at -15C. I was staying at Ramada Hotel Kazan, which was just across from the train station. Originally it's $440 HK ($55 USD) per night and I had to add $200 HK to check in early. The hotel looked like a royal princess’s room! It had blue green lining and black floral patterns with gold framed mirrors. Near the window was an armchair and a small clear glass table. 

It was still really early so I took my time to shower and redo my makeup while I waited it to get warmer outside. I left around 11am to explore around the city. 

Kazan has much lesser people than Moscow, but still very beautiful with lots of European style wooden/stone architecture. I made my way to Bauman Street then turned North West to the Kazan Kremlin. It’s similar to Moscow, with many churches to see, but the style of the buildings was really different. It’s heavily influenced by the Islamic culture and the mosque was stunning, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. My favorite one was the Kul Sharif Mosque. There’s also another mosque with blue and gold onion shaped tops, it’s too cute to be a real building! Across from that, there was a look out platform where you see the river and some parliament building. It’s cold so the river was frozen and covered with a blanked of untouched, fluffy white snow. I cannot be happier that I decided to do this trip while it’s still snowing. 

Kul Sharif Mosque

Outside the Kremlin just across the road was the State Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan. At this point I’ve already figured out that Museums are your best friends during cold weather times in Russia. It’s good to break up your day with museum visits to warm up. It was also a pretty impressive museum with 3 floors and lots of artifacts. I learned a lot about the history of this region. I’m just so impressed because there’s just such a rich culture in Russia, bursting with diversity, depth, and breadth. 

I continued onto Bauman street (pedestrian only street) to see the Epiphany Church & Bell tower. It’s just an empty, brown, tall building sitting amongst a row of 2 floor stores selling souvenirs. I also passed by a McDonalds and Burger king here! It's also fairly new in Russia so there's lots of people eating at these fast food restaurants. 

Continuing South East, I wanted to see more but it’s simply too cold. I found a pharmacy and bought some conditioner, my hair will thank me later for it, it’s so dry in Russia. Problem is, I could not figure out which bottles were Shampoo and which bottles were Conditioner. And the Google Translate App's photo function didn't work either. I ended up finding the single bottle with the word "Conditioner" written in English. I must’ve just stood in that pharmacy for 10 minutes to warm up as well! There’s also rows upon rows of makeup, like Sephora. Russian women seem to really love their beauty products! 

After warming up a bit, I passed by the Nizhny Kaban lake. There was a part that melted, so there were ducks, doves, and swans playing in the small puddle that thawed in the lake. People were feeding them and it’s just such a joy to watch. 

Back at the hotel, I napped and rested for most of the night. At 6:30pm I ordered some salmon pasta and chicken soup for dinner. It was really really good food, I wish I had ordered another chicken soup. 

I woke up around 12:30am to get ready for my train which leaves at 2am for Kazan. The streets were still lit and cars stooped to let me pass by even though there was basically no traffic. The announcements and display boards were in English so it was easy to figure out which platform my train was at.

Next stop is Yekaterinburg, 1,814km from Moscow. It is where the Romanov family was executed and buried. There I will go see the Europe and Asia border!  

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