Sunday 30th June 2019
‘The best education I have ever received is through travel”, Lisa Ling
View across Moscow from hotel window
We headed to the airport at 10.15am, to catch a 2pm flight to Mineralyne Vody, leaving the city of Moscow behind with its blue skies.
There is only one road in and out to this airport so you can imagine in such a busy populated city its better to leave early.
We soon realised we where correct in doing so. Even so early on a Sunday morning the four lane road was jam packed both ways!
So we were heading to Mineralyne Vody, a town in the Stavropol Kray (territory), in southwestern Russia. It would take us 2hrs 30mins by plane to get to.
Just throwing in an interesting fact here but did you know to fly from one end of Russia to the other on a plane would take 17hrs…that for me puts it into context on how massive Russia actually is!
Mineralyne Vody is a spa town on the northern edge of the Caucasus Mountains.
It’s name transfers to “mineral waters”.
The town lies along the Kuma River and has a main railway line to Azerbaijan. The railway freight yards and workshops reflect it’s junction position on main rail lines.
The town also has an airport serving other Caucasian spa-resorts.
A war memorial outside the airport all made up of pictures of faces of people who had died serving in the war
So today we became a group of seven, meeting up with our Everest Basecamp Crew. We had all last got together in May 2018 at a wedding in Worthing…a couple from our group got married…so it had been a while since we had last came face to face.
Stories where shared and it was just good to be together again and catch up.
We arrived at our hotel and spent the next two hours sorting gear and freshening up before heading out to dinner.
The next part of our evening turned out to be rather strange…and I’m not even sure I can explain what actually happened!
So we were aiming for two restaurants which we knew nothing of. On literally starting on our travels we walked past four young people all roughly 15 years of age. On hearing our accents (especially the American) they slowed down, stared, then began to try imitate us!
We smiled and then low and behold they started to communicate, especially one of the young boys in amazing English.
Now this was amazing as we had been in Moscow for 1.5 days, and this was the most fluent English we had heard. In some of the restaurants we had been in there had been very little, nothing like this.
So we had a bit of a walk to get to this restaurant and these young people followed us most if the way, chatting, clearly enthralled and excited at being able to communicate with us in English.
We eventually broke away from them but the most fluent English speaker came with us then began advising us on places to eat, he would take us there etc etc.
By this stage the restaurant we were trying to find was further up the street, it was getting later, and we saw what looked like another restaurant across the street.
We walked over to check it out. On opening the door we were hit with a scene from the 1980’s. From a glittering multi-coloured disco ball, full blown karaoke, to decor that wouldn’t have been out of place in a museum…we had literally just stepped back in time…and it felt retro!
We closed the door straight away, only for the young boy to go inside. Next thing he reappeared inviting us in and two of the guys went in, feeling slightly sorry for the young boy.
We all entered reluctantly behind.
Next thing we were met by the owners. None of them were able to speak English. A table was set. One of the guys we are with is Spanish so he asked if anyone spoke Spanish. Next thing we knew the owners phone came out, he starting speaking to his neice in Russian but who was fluent in Spanish then passed the phone to Ricardo our Spanish friend.
In a nutshell we managed to order a meal in a Russian restaurant by speaking to the owners Russian neice in Spanish whilst the neice then translated to the owner in Russian…it was surreal.
I have done nothing to change the colour of these photos, it’s all real!
We waited anxiously on what was going to appear on our table.
Then the most amazing banquet of hot and cold food including salad, bread, steak, chicken, pork, potatoes, pizza, you name it was laid out on our table and it was amazing!!
It just goes to show how some of the best kinds of evenings/experiences happen out of pure luck and when you least expect.
Before leaving the owner asked to make a video of us to promote his restaurant. We were videos by him, put on a live Facebook stream by the young boy it was so funny.
We were like celebrities…I’m not sure just how many visitors actually come to Mineralyne Vody!!!!
Due to the chaoticness of the evening I got hardly a photo, but I got plenty an experience!
On getting back to the hotel it was one last final pack of the rucksacks….one last final check….and tomorrow we step on Elbrus!