It seemed like in a moment of clarity I had set the alarm for 11:30 last night. Checkout was at 12:00 so I stumbled out of bed instead of hitting the snooze button. Brecht’s bed was empty and his mattress seemed to have disappeared as well. When I dragged myself to the shower I found Brecht lying in the hallway of the hostel. He had moved there because of the snoring in the dome. We managed to leave the hostel by 13:00. The staff was kind enough to not throw any shit at us because we missed checkout.
While suppressing the urge to vomit in the damp subway stations, we made it too the hitchhiking spot near the edge of SPB. We found a piece of crappy carboard and after 10 minutes I finished doodling some cyrillic letters to indicate our destination: Veliky Novgorad. We had found a couchsurfing host in this ancient Russian town between Saint-Petersburg and Moscow that a lot of tourists miss. We thought it would be good to stay here two nights to see a bit of the real Russia before moving to the capital.
Because we looked even worse than our sign, no one felt the urge to pick us up. Well no, actually, one person stopped, but he quickly changed his mind after I started talking to him in English with a Hollywood-Russian accent. After a couple of hours we both realized we weren’t 22 years old anymore and that non of us actually felt like sitting in a car for 3 hours with someone we couldn’t talk too, or even worse, with someone who actually could and wanted to talk to us. So we decided to bail and take the train instead. On our way to the train station it started raining.
The suffering continued after we finally made it to the train station around 16:00. The first train to Velikiy Novgorod departed at 20:40. Because the Russian security guys didn’t like sleeping people we were forced to keep our eyes open. We tried coffee, but it only made us more tired. By 20:30 we stepped into the train and managed to get a little sleep.
The train arrived at 23:55. Margarita (Margo or Rita for friends) and Lena were waiting for us on the platform. After a 30 minutes walk we arrived at Margo’s place. She quickly made us some food and we got to meet Alexander (Sasha), Margo’s friend/lover who also lived there. Margo had started learning English about a month ago, and she invited us to surf her couch so she could practice some. Although Sasha spoke English very well, Margo didn’t like it that he was always interrupting her to correct her grammar mistakes. Margo kept two cats who lived in the room where we would spend the night. It was a bit smelly but I really enjoyed the presence of the cats. It made me feel at home immediately.
The day started like crap but arriving at these nice people’s home made everything alright. I’d like to finish with a little poem, well it’s not really a poem but it popped into my head and I think it sounds a bit too gay to not call it a poem. Here it goes:
Today was a day to quickly forget
but an evening to cherish
cause tonight we met two strangers
who would become our friends for life
To be continued..