Monday, 2 June 2008

Made it to Tyumen

We arrived right on time on Friday morning at Tyumen, and were met by quite a welcoming party, given it was 6.40 in the morning. We were expecting Olga's friend Tania, as we would be staying at her flat, but Olga's Aunt Natasha was there with her sister, and Olga's cousins Mikhail and Sasha and Sasha's boyfriend Sergei. That certainly made my life easier when it came to carrying the luggage!
We went back to bed at Tania's for a couple of hours, then went into the centre of Tyumen for a wander about, and to find the new Tigress office, as they've moved since I was last here. We did a bit of shopping in a department store then went back to Tania's, as Olga's friends were coming over to visit. That turned in to a long old evening, Olga and I eventually retired at 4.15am! Lara had gone to bed at 10.30pm, which is actually 5.30 in the UK, it's all a bit confusing as to how her body clock is working. She is understandably confused and woke again at midnight, so she came back to the party for an hour, then woke again at 2am, and we resorted to Calpol and she got off to a good sleep until 7.40ish.
Needless to say we were rather jaded on Saturday and just vegged out in the flat until 5.30, when we took Tania and her daughter, Ira, out for a meal. Tania had suggested sushi, there are three sushi restaurants in the same area in the centre, it must be the "in-thing" at the moment. 9 year old Ira was rather more keen on going to the McDonalds that was nearby!
After the meal we went to the railway station to meet Olga's mum, her train was dead on time (I'm learning that despite the size of the country, the trains seem to always be on time!) and she was of course delighted to meet Lara (and Olga and I!). After buying tickets for our trains to Ekaterinburg (Olga, Luda and Lara on Monday, me on Saturday - oh, here's a lesson for First Great Western, a first-class single ticket for a 5 hour journey is 470 roubles, or £10), we went back to the flat, and this time only stayed up till 1.20am - an early night!
Sunday's itinery called for us to meet up with Olga's family in town. There was Uncle Victor, Sasha & Sergei, and Mikhail and his wife Natasha. We had a lovely meal in a bar, and the vodka toasts started. I will admit to being a little worse for wear by the time we got back to Tania's, and Olga arranged the taxi that would take me to my hotel in Tyumen where I am now. There was a little difficulty checking-in, not helped by me letting the battery on my mobile run out so Olga couldn't contact me to see that I'd arrived safely, but she did phone the hotel at just the right moment, as I was trying to check-in but the staff needed some proof of where I'd been staying since we arrived in Russia, which I didn't have. Olga sorted it out over the phone with them and promised to bring our train tickets from Moscow in this morning.
So I got up at 6am - no mean feat considering the mess I was last night! - and Olga arrived about half-past. We sorted things out with the hotel, and I went with the ladies to the station in Tania's car to help them with their luggage. As usual the train was on time, and Tania dropped me back at the hotel. After a quick breakfast I went back to bed for an hour, then walked the half mile to the Tigress office. I will admit to feeling a little ropey during the day and have learnt not to try and keep pace with Uncle Victor when the vodka arrives.
Olga phoned at 5pm to say they had safely arrived in Lesnoy after the 5 hour train journey and 4 hour coach trip. They had paid a porter at the railway station around £12 to carry their bags to the coach station, about a 5 minute walk when you've not got any bags but an unthinkable task with two heavy holdalls, a changing bag, a pram and a baby. Luda's neighbour met them at the coach stop in Lesnoy, and the plan is for a friend of Luda to drive them back to Ekaterinburg on Saturday, so hopefully they won't have to struggle with the bags too much. I suspect it's an early night for everyone tonight, except me, as I only realised at 10.30pm that I get free internet access (I hope it's free) in my hotel room, so I thought you were overdue an update.
I've put a selection of photos in a new web album, or click on the slideshow below:

The rest of the week should be pretty straightforward I think. The Tigress boss here, Andrei, is planning to take me fishing tomorrow evening, and at some point Uncle Victor wants to take me out to play Russian Billiards. I've asked Andrei if he'll join us as translator, and more importantly, as a wingman who'll remind me not to match Victor when the vodka arrives!

I've been able to keep up with other blogs, like Anton's and Eve's - please sponsor Anton for his 3 Peaks Yacht Race if you haven't done already (have I? I can't remember! If not, I will!)


Eve said...

Hello Lara (and Lara's Mum and Dad)

Looks like you are having a good time in Russia with lots of partying till late. Remember to try to sneak some vodka like we planned.

lots of love from Eve xx

Anonymous said...

Can I just say that it is fantastic that you have finally found someone you can't keep up with? Congratulations Uncle Victor!

And lets be honest - you also wanted a McDonalds....

Chris Armstrong said...

I'm meeting Uncle Victor tonight but Andrei is coming with us, and it's only in my hotel for billiards, so shouldn't be too dangerous. FLW!
Now, McDonalds Sushi is the answer! Mini Big Macs, Quarter Pounders and the like on a dish and you pick them up with chopsticks. It's the future!