Last week I picked up my renewed passport. As the lady was cutting all the visa-free pages and stamping a huge, red “CANCELLED” across my 16-year-old face, excitement started tingling in the tips of my fingers. This old passport accompanied me throughout all my adult and semi-adult vagabonding. I had it in Kiev, Lviv and Zhovkva all the way back in high school. It saved me a lot of trouble in Hong Kong and granted entry to Taiwan on my very first inter-continental journey. I had it on the Transsiberian railway trip. It is the passport which, on my very first journey to Edinburgh, I put in a pocket in my carry-on (I was still serious about Ryanair’s strict one-bag policy then) which was then taken away from me and which a helpful police officer later retrieved from the baggage belt to let me enter the country. It is the passport which, even though it bears no signs of it, accompanied me on many trips in the EU and for good two years was my only widely recognisable ID.
The very last mission of that previous passport was to take me to Kaliningrad. With the Moscow visa still valid, off I went. I took pictures, recorded sounds and, overall, kept my eyes open – and the results of that coming here soon. Strolling through Kaliningrad reminded me of all the previous times I had strolled around other towns and cities all across Russia, and about all the material I gathered there and never processed. The old passport has now finished its duty, and so did the Russian visa, no longer valid in an invalid passport. The new passport is beginning its Mexican mission today. In the meantime, while I’m somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, let me take you to St. Petersburg for a while.
I went to St.Petersburg for an unexpected long weekend last May. The first days of May are a public holiday all over Russia, and I hadn’t planned my trip properly, and hence, since the trains were all booked, I was supposed to take a blabla car there; which later turned out to be a bus. Which turned out to be a marshrutka (a passenger-adapted minibus) in the end. The road was bumpy and the bus was crowded, nonetheless, I did manage to sleep most of the way. I was successful in that endeavour not because of a careful thought of the minibus’ designer; nor because of an ability to sleep in just about any place. I owe the relatively peaceful state of my not very sleep-deprived mind solely to the fact that I had taken my headphones with me. We were driving at night. The driver’s method of keeping awake was music. That wouldn’t be all that bad in itself if he wasn’t a fan of Russian chanson (which is, I must add, nothing like the French chanson). This is what the entire journey sounded like:
St. Petersburg is a magical place. Quite a few more sounds have enchanted me there and you may be sure that they will find their way here. In the meantime, you can listen to the sound postcards I recorded before or read what I wrote about other places in Russia. If you’d like to keep up to date with my Mexican adventures, please follow me on facebook, instagram, twitter and pinterest!