Vladimir, medieval capital of Russia

Аня and I decided to spend a night in Vladimir, one of the medieval capitals of Russia. We had no particular reason to visit, other than a desire to see something outside of Moscow. We had planned to take an early train, but we missed our train as a result of some, to put it mildly, unfortunate circumstances. Lesson learned: Avoid gypsy cabs in Moscow. Instead we took a bus.

The weather (-29° C) in Vladimir was unbearably cold , so much so that it was difficult to enjoy much of anything. We jumped at any excuse to get out of the cold. Cathedral? Sure! Museum of glass blowing? Definitely! Café? Why not two! Exhibition of cat breeders? Absolutely!

The Golden Gate in Vladimir (Владимир) was originally built in the 12th century, and it survived the Mongol invasion of Russia nearly 100 years later, but during the 19th century Catherine the Great ordered that it be rebuilt. Inside the Gate, today, there is a museum dedicated to the Russian defense against the Mongol invasion. The museum staff was so excited to have a foreigner visit, that they made it a point to play the English audio for the Mongol invasion diorama.

The bus station in Moscow, en route to Владимир.

Whenever Russians exchange information, whether it be to buy a train ticket or order food or just about anything, it always seems to take ages longer than it should. If there is ever a queue, get comfortable, because it might be a while. Here, Аня tries to figure out the quickest way to get to Владимир from Moscow.

Hey, it's our bus! Nope, try again, not our bus. That's Аня on the left.

Waiting for the local bus in Владимир. Myfuckinggoditwascold. It felt like living death.

A mostly empty Russian bus in Владимир. 14 рублей.

Negotiating taxi fare upon arrival in Владимир. With weather pushing -30° C, you'd think it'd be a speedy affair; however, nothing in Russia is as quick as you'd like. I would have given him $50 USD to just get us into the car and out of the cold. Instead, after a few minutes of haggling, it was about $10 USD (300 roubles) for our ride to the hotel.

Гладиатор (Gladiator) hotel in Владимир (Vladimir).

In my experience, Russians are not terribly friendly, unless you are sick: The staff at Гладиатор took pity on my illness, offering me, first, hot vodka with pepper, and then, after digging through a box of old medicines, a couple of absolutely disgusting chewable tablets that may or may not have helped. I have no idea exactly what they were; however, they did bring a bit of relief, although it may have just been the hot vodka.

Russian medicine. Tastes kinda awful.

We tried to visit this church, but unfortunately it was closed. Mostly we just wanted an excuse to be out of the cold.

We visited this church in the morning. I think it is the most famous church in Vladimir. I have no idea what it's called, and don't care, because: WARM. Within a second or two of entering, a ба́бушка gave me the evil eye and motioned for me to remove my hat, which I really did not want to do because it was so cold outside. During winter in Russia, always keep your hat on, even inside when it's too warm, because you'll want that extra heat the minute you step outside.

Found some chicken soup in Vladimir. Surprisingly good.

While walking through Central Park in Vladimir, we came across an "exhibition of cats" (i.e. cat breeders). Best 100 roubles spent. Kept us out of the cold for nearly 30 minutes.

Russian cats! Can you see me in the reflection?

For a small little town, pedigreed cats in Russia are quite expensive, some as much as $1,000 USD (or more).

At the train station in Moscow, returning home from Vladimir.