one o'clock to start planning the train journey etc.
At 1pm we re-grouped and took a taxi the 10km into the centre of Vladivostok to the main train station.
We then started to ask people about shipping the bikes back to Moscow on the train. To help with communications we had produced two pictures one of four people on a train, and another of four motorbikes on a train.
These worked particularly well as people understood straight away what we wanted, but we still had difficulty understanding what they were trying to tell us we had to do!
The first person to help was a woman who pointed us towards the baggage handling section of the station. There we talked (with pictures) to a man loading goods onto a train carriage. He took us to an office where there were two people in charge of goods management. The first we approached was a woman (Russian shot putter type) who didn't want to help at all she was officious and shouted in a very rude and brusque manner at everyone who came into the office with a query. We just stood there feigning ignorance and the man in the office eventually decided to take us under his wing and help us. He took us into the goods loa ding bay where he introduced us to the person who will crate up the motorbikes ready for putting onto the train. This person said the bikes have to have "nyet benzin and oil" and if we bring them tomorrow (Tuesday) at 11am they will be shipped on the Thursday train to Moscow. The cost will be 25 rubles per kg + 30% and at an estimated 200kg this works out at 6500 rubles ( about £100). This all seemed to be going too easy so we thought we had better call the person from the "iron tigers" motorbike club whose number Vitaly in Tynda had given to us. The number rang but no answer, so no help there!
We think that when we take the bikes tomorrow we will have to drain the petrol out of the tanks, but are hopeful that we can leave the oil in. If he insists we have a plan to just drain the oil from the reservoir in the bike frame, but not the oil in the engine sump, and this should make getting the bikes back fit to ride easier in Moscow.
We had become aware that the normal procedure was to buy your train ticket first and then report to the baggage section to arrange for unusual baggage etc. so we decided to see what difficulties lay ahead in trying to purchase our train tickets to Moscow.
To get into the train station you have to pass through airport type metal detectors and baggage x-ray checks and we went through three of these before we arrived at the ticket office on the ground floor where you buy long distance tickets.
We went to a kiosk labelled "information" and started the whole process again (with pictures) of trying to explain we wanted to buy train tickets to Moscow.
After a few false starts with the young woman behind the desk who was typing into her phone and using google translate she eventually went away and came back with a man who asked in good English whether he could be of any help.
We sat with him and explained everything we wanted to do. He understood and proceeded to get all the information on different trains travelling on Thursday and Friday to Moscow. In the end we have opted to travel first class on the cheaper (£100) non express train that over the seven days to get to Moscow only takes 9 hours longer and in fact gets into Moscow two hours before the express train that leaves on the Friday.
So we have decided to stay in Vladivostok and check on Thursday that our bikes actually get packed onto a train, and then take a train leaving for Moscow at midnight on Thursday. We arrive at Moscow the following Thursday (September 11th) at 4am, and the baggage man says our bikes will arrive in Moscow maybe on the 10th, 11th but definitely by the 12th September.
The tickets for us to Moscow cost 16,600 rubles each (about £285) and so Dave kindly bought everyone's ticket using his Visa card, what a very generous and nice man!!
Having seemed to have successfully managed the train journey to Moscow we next needed to change some US dollars into rubles, and then find an hotel close to the railway station.
We went to a bank where the cashier checked, and checked, and checked again each and every note. We were trying to change $2000 and she rejected two $100 notes but we could get no explanation from her as to why they were unacceptable.
Next we went in search of an hotel. Paul's sat-nav took us looking for an hotel close by, but on the way we spotted a hostel, and upon making enquiries there we have booked in for the two nights required. The four of us are sharing a six bed dormer with a young woman back-packer!!
The hostel is right in the centre with what looks like a busy area with buskers etc. There is a harbour close by with some tall ships that we plan to visit tomorrow.
There is a large statue of Lenin pointing out towards the sea.
Vladivostok is situated on an island a bit like Manhattan in New York, and we are also very close to a magnificent suspension bridge that spans across from the island to the mainland. You can see the suspension wires in the photo above.
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