Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Moscow.....filled with emotions

My time in Moscow has been filled with many emotions. On a normal day some people can travel with no worries at all and other people worry. I am one that double checks behind her shoulder more then she needs to. I have always leaned more on the safe side. I think things through and sometimes too much & it interferes with my chance to have fun. Through the years I have gained experiences that have made me realize that it is important to live life to the fullest. What's a half lived life? It's nothing at all. I still have to push myself to come out of my safe bubble. This is why I have travelled hundred of miles and find myself sitting in a hotel, in Russia, waiting for a taxi on New Year's Eve, where we will catch a bus to get on the Tran Siberian Railway. Many people have asked me, "why are you in Russia while terriost attacks are happening?" I cannot live in a safe bubble my whole life. Bad things happen in the United States and can even happen in the mall where I work or on my campus where I go to school. Anyone or anything can be in the wrong place at the wrong time. All I can say, hope, and pray for is that god will watch over me and the other girls and will help us through our adventure. We deserve just to have the time of our life. We have talked about this for several years and have been planning for the past year. So what we have done to ensure we are safe was to become extra aware of our surroundings. Plus Moscow has increased security due to the attacks and New Year's Eve. We continue to have the time of our lives and are enjoying the gorgeous views that Moscow has to offer.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Arriving In Moscow

After arriving at the airport at 4:45am, by bus, we went inside to check-in for our flight but first we wanted to make sure all of our bags fit the requirement. Unfortunately, we were not so lucky, which is weird because I actually measured mine. My frame of my backpack was what was preventing it from qualifying as a carry on. I took out a jacket and put on another pair of socks and put back on my snow boots. My outfit even looked more interesting!

 We made it through security and checked luggage without a problem. We all four slept on the plane for a few hours. When we landed in Moscow it was 3:00pm. 

After finding a safe taxi stand we negotiated a price, since there was no meter. Emma did her research and knew what it should cost from the airport to the  hotel, so we knew we were not getting ripped off. It took almost two hours to get to the hotel. The traffic was horrible and the way they drive here is insane!! I would be the best driver in town!!! We finally got to the hotel. We checked in, freshened up and headed out to see the city. 
The city was magical. We were so glad we were able to see it at night. The Christmas lights were every where! Sophia was determined to find the "Lollipop Palace" and of course we ran right into it. I cannot even describe the buildings architecture. It is absolutely breath taking. The pictures never do it justice. 
We grabbed some dinner at the hotel and went straight to bed. 

Bus ride

Taking a cab at 2:30am went very smoothly. We arrived at the Victory Coach Station. We loaded on to the bus at 3:30am for an hour and a half bus ride with a lady behind us who smells of nasty perfume. It was making me sick to my stomach. I really wanted to give her a friendly tip to never wear that stuff again.
Emma tried to sleep and I was trying to not pass-out from holding my breath the entire bus ride. 
Our next adventure before we get on the airplane will be to get batteries. Just my luck the SPOT went dead. For the people that do not know, my mom tracks my every move and yes I am an adult. Lol I love it so much that she cares so much. I just found it very funny that at 2:45 in the morning when I notified her the spot went dead, she vigorously started typing. I honestly think it's the most I have talked to her te whole trip;-) off to look for batteries!! 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Catching a cab in thirty minutes to….




London has been none stop fun. I have not had a second to sit down. When I do have a chance to relax, I have not had time to write my blog because I am exhausted from the jam packed days we have been having. If this is any indication of how much fun we are having it only shows the half of it. I am having the time of my life. We are trying to maximize our time in each country. The sun starts to set at 3pm, which means we have to get up early in order to ensure we have plenty of daylight to see everything we want to see and do. We have filled our day exploring the city and seeing: St. Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, South Bank, Borough Market,  Climbing 311 stairs to the top of The Monument, Trafalgar Square, Windsor Castle, Tower Bridge, Tower of London and Dirty Dancing. I am sure I am leaving some stuff off. However, we covered a lot of ground in three days. Plus the first day of me arriving I was running on 40 hours of no sleep. I think I honestly can say that was my first all nighter and tonight we are about to pull another all nighter. At 2:45am a taxi will be picking us up from Emma's flat and taking us to the bus station. We will be taking the bus to the airport. We will then be taking a plane to Moscow. After arriving in Moscow around 2:30pm, 2:30am your time, we will check into our hotel and head out to sight see. We are currently packing our backpacks and tossing out sweatshirts and what other nonsense we feel won't be necessary for our adventure. Due to the lack of space, I decided to wear my snow boots on the plane. I will definitely be a sight to see at 2:30am at the bus stop.=) You have to do what you have to do to get your belongings across the country with you. They call it backpacking for a reason. I feel bad for cutting this blog short but, I am sure you guys understand that I am having fun. I will not have internet for a bit. I will try to write a blog every few days and as soon as I get internet I will post them. 
The Monument 

The Streets of London

Ice Bar 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Connecting Fun

Tick...tick...tick the clock struck 6:05am and we were still on the ground. Everything appeared to be normal except for the strange man, in a blue shirt, that read: U.S. Airways maintenance. My initial response was to text my mom. However, I did not want to make her worry about my safety. I knew the airlines would only let us fly if it was safe. After 15 minutes of waiting around, the captain came on and expressed his concern about the passengers making our connecting flights due to a maintenance repair. My mind started to race...are the wheels okay.... I hope it's not the wings... What if it's the motor... Blahhh... Then I told myself to relax and it would all be okay. The huge maintence issue I was making up in my head ended up being a broken lock on the bathroom door. 35 minutes later we finally departed for Phoenix. I was very content with my book in hand 
And the bathroom across the aisle 
The anxiety did not start until the Captain came on several times telling us to look at the magazine in the back of the seat to make a stratagey in order to make our connecting flight. As we were landing an announcement came on asking to let all connecting passengers off first. 

After landing, we taxied for a million years, so it seemed. We took turn after turn after turn. My heart was beating faster and faster. We finally made it to the gate and guess what.....Every single passenger stood up as if tgey all had a connecting flight! For those of you who know me, I cannot keep my mouth shut, I yelled, "You really all have connecting flights. You are all really inconsiderate. Some of us need to make our flights in 8 minutes." I ran to the next wing of the airport. I passed two people movers as my hiking backback towered over me. The nerves took over and my mouth became so dry, i knew my anxiety was in full force. I made it to the gate at 9:30am and my scheduled flight departure time was 9:33am. The plane was gone. The lady at the desk told me that they shut the doors 10 minutes before departure time.... 

I was reassigned a new boarding pass for a later flight. Which means my next connecticting flight will be a tight one as well. I now boarded my flight for North Carolina.  I met a really nice lady who helped the time go by fast. I gathered my stuff and the people around me helped me stuff my backpack under the seat so when we landed I could run off the plane and catch my next flight. As I was about to get off the sweet lady handed me 40 dollars and told me it was nothing much but I could at least by a meal or two. She was such a sweetheart. I wish I would have thought to give her my blog to follow me... Unfortunately, there was no time for that... 

Instead of having 3 hours to refresh, grab something to eat, and go to the bathroom another couple and I spent our time running from one side of the terminal through the food court, pushing and slipping through any open space we saw. We tried to keep up with her husbands light jog but his 6ft legs were over powering our sprint. 

Her husband left us in the dust to hold the plane in case it came to that. Luckily, we got there just in time for them to check our passports and board. 

Beep beep... "Attention passengers... Captain speaking from the flight deck... We had a check engine light appear and are proceeding back to have it looked at." 

24minutes later

Beep beep... "Attention passengers... Captain speaking from the flight deck, we understand that this is hard to understand however, we are satisfied with the conclusion of the repair. We will be departing very soon. Sorry for the delay." 

Let the adventure start is all I can say. I am happy I was able to get some sprints in. I haven't been to the gym in a month and I just jumped right back into running miles in the airport with children saying, "mommy why are these people running." Not use to hearing words of encouragement at my runs. Surprisingly, it made me run faster;-) 

The flight was not bad at all. There were TVs filled with movies, games, puzzles, trivia, and GPS.
 I tried to get some sleep on the plane so I would be rested for my day to start once I landed but I was not successful. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Perfect seat on first flight

Good pick mom!!! She knows me too well. Always needing to go to the bathroom. 

The flight was enough of a Christmas present but to coordinate the bathroom being across the aisle, you didn't have to. 

Love you! 

Time to start reading my new book Wild. 

Didn't know I could wear wool at the wrong time!

Its sooooo hot!!!!! I called my mom to say I made it through security with all my luggage ;-) and I told her how hot I was and I really needed some cooler clothing. She told me to tell her that when I am in negative degree weather. I told her I was wearing my new wool leggings she got me. She started laughing. I said what. She said MACKENZIE... those are made for cold weather... not sitting in a warm plane. No wonder why I am sweating like crazy!!!! This will be intresting!!  And now it's time to board no time for changing. I would only wear wool at the wrong time

It's here!! It's here!! It's finally here!!

I was like a little kid on Christmas Eve.I could not sleep. I was up every hour. I have been waiting for this day to come for the past year and it is finally here. I write this as I wait in the long line of tired, grumpy people, in the security line. However, I am the happiest person alive... I am going to LONDON!!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my followers!!

Here I am the day before I board the plane, my bags are packed, and I am ready to start my adventure. My plane takes off at 6:05am from Sacramento International Airport. I will be flying U.S. Airways. My adventure begins... with a few transfers before I will arrive at my final destination. I will land in phoenix at 8:55am. I depart Phoenix at 9:33am and will land in Charlotte at 3:25pm. Lastly, I will depart for my final destination of London at 6:15pm and will arrive at 7:05am on December 27th. I will wait for Emma's arrival at 9am where we will meet in the waiting area. Sophia and Bekah will arrive at 12:05pm. 

Once all four of us are together around 1:00pm, we will take the underground train, which is called the Tube, to Emma's place. It will take about 1 hour to get to central London from the airport. We will use Oyster cards, which are reloadable cards for all the public transport. 

We will take our luggage to Emma's place, freshen up, and then go grab a late lunch. Emma will show us around her part of town and where she goes to school. Then, we will go to Trafalgar Square, walk along and see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in the dark, and then we will go on a Jack the Ripper walking tour. After this fun filled day we will head back to Emma's place to get some rest.

The plan for Saturday is to go see changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace at 11:30am and then some other London things before we go on our *surprise* night time adventure. 

Sunday, we plan to take the train out to Windsor to tour Windsor castle (where the Queen lives 1/2 of the year), and then walk around the town. That night we will go see Dirty Dancing.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Where do I even start.....

Oh yeah....that thing called packing.... I leave in 6 days and all I have done so far is pile a few things in a corner. I am puzzled on what to pack. The current temperature in Moscow is in the teens and it is 2 degrees in the afternoon and it only gets colder in Siberia... negative 20 degrees!!!! I absolutely cannot stand the whole packing think. If I could I would have my entire room delivered to London, unfortunately that is not possible. So I am still back to the packing situation. I am a girl who wears flip flops year round and was wearing shorts and a T-shirt in the dead of winter and I have to pack warm clothing. I never know what I will be in the mood to wear and all I can think of is, "I am going to be dying in all of these long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts." It really just makes me want to scream. I always end up figuring it out and normally I am pretty well prepared for my trips. My fear is to be freezing, for a 2nd time, and not enjoy The Great Wall again. I know that I will take my experience from last time and make sure I have plenty of warm clothes to ensure I can enjoy every second of my adventure. Well, I better get back to packing...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2 weeks and 1 day!

WOW is all I can say.... Two weeks and one day.... It cannot be real. I seriously feel like I am dreaming. However, when I opened up my emails today and found a packing list from the best travel agent ever (Emma)!!!!! I was filled with many mixed emotions. Can four girls concur the world all on our own and traveling across the world by train? What if we cannot communicate to people in the other countries? Then I paused... I have traveled to how many different places before??... and for the most part it was just Emma and I who went exploring. I know we can do this adventure on our own and these are the same emotions I felt before I left on Semester at Sea. It would not be normal if I was not feeling this way. Last night I started to gather up items I will need. I also went to REI and finally purchased my hiking back pack with my gift card from two birthdays ago! I cannot wait for the Semester to end on Monday so I can just focus on getting ready for another trip of a lifetime. =)))))))

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Count Down is ON!!!

About two years ago Emma and I sat over dinner talking about the Trans Siberian Railway. Emma was trying to "sell" me on the trip.

    "Two years ago"

The trip sounded amazing unfortunately, it was just not the right timing for me. Emma and I continued to talk about this trip and knew it was something we would do together we just did not know when. When Emma came to California last December we started planning this trip. We felt that this we be good timing for the both of us. Every time we say bye to each other we know we will see each other, we just do not know when. Well when we said bye to each other last December we knew we would be seeing each other in London!!! This made it a little bit easier to say goodbye. (there were still tears)

Here we are, a year later, after several months of Emma planning this amazing trip for us; we are just 18 short days to landing in London. Emma's younger sister Sophia and her friend Rebekah will also be joining us on this amazing adventure and will be meeting us in London just a few hours after I land in London.

I would like to say the adventure starts then however, the adventure has already started. Trying to obtain extra passport pages and visa has been an adventure in itself. In order to receive a chinese visa I had to go to the Chinese Consulate which is located in San Francisco because they would not except visa applications by mail. On the website it stated if an applicant wanted to pay thirty extra dollars for same day service they could receive their visa the same day. Unfortunately, they do not do same day service anymore. This meant that I had to come back to the Chinese Consulate 4 days later to pick up my visa once it was done being processed. At this very moment I knew this was going to be a trip full of adventure and memories if I have not even left the United States and the memories have already begun.

If you would like to follow me on my adventure on the Trans Siberian Railway continue to check back on my blog for more post.

If you want to learn more about what the Trans Siberian Railway is here is the link: http://www.seat61.com/Trans-Siberian.htm#.UqVEUSgXhGA