Monday, 26 November 2007

Томск (Tomsk)

Tomsk is the capital of Tomsk Oblast in southern Siberian Russia. Tomsk, a major distribution center, is a port on the Tom’ River and is linked with the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Electrical equipment, ball bearings, chemicals, and footwear are manufactured in the city. The first university (1888) in Siberia is located here, as are several technical institutes. The city, one of the oldest in Siberia, was founded as a fortress in 1604. Population (2002): 487,700.

Tomsk was on Sunday my fist trip to another city from Novosibirsk. It is really a very nice and charming city with a great history. Many old houses got renovated recently and have now a new shine. I've liked very much the old wooden houses. After a walk in the warm (cold) afternoon sun (-10°C), the city museum was the place of choice to warm up. The trip to and from Tomsk was in a tiny intercity bus for four hours.

новосибирск (Novosibirsk)

Novosibirsk, formerly Novonikolayevsk, is the capital of Novosibirsk Oblast, in southern Siberia Russia, located on the Ob’ River. Novosibirsk is the largest city and one of the chief industrial centers of Siberia. Manufactures include mining equipment, turbines, textiles, chemicals, and heavy machine tools. It is the seat of a university and a scientific research center and has opera and ballet companies. The city, founded in 1893 as a stop on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, received its current name in 1925. During World War II (1939-45) many industries were moved to Novosibirsk from the combat areas of European USSR. Population (2002): 1,425,600.

Novosibirsk is the perfect starting point for me to discover the east of Russia. To get here I've booked a flight on S7 Siberian Airways for a very reasonable price. For about 85€ I got a 3.5h flight through two time zones and a full meal. I arrived Friday evening and it was announced snowfall and -16°C.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Fun in the Metro

Today, after business, I've decided to go to the red square at the evening. The Metro is considered to be the fastest and cheapest way of transport. Obviously that only is correct for Moscow citizens. Because the Russian Lonely Planet is so thick I've decided to leave it in the hotel. At the hotel reception I've asked for a metro map - The charming lady at the desk just shouted back: "We don't have that!". So I thought it will be easy to get around and just follow the signs. Buying a ticket was easy. Magnetic cards are used here where the number of drives are loaded onto. I found also very quick the right direction to the city center. Unfortunately then the problems begun. Because of the lack of public announces and sometimes the missing of station names I've got lost in transit. Of course everything is written in Cyrillic to make it more exciting for the foreigners.

After getting stranded outside the city I had to find out how to use the metro more effectively. Because I had now the feeling for up and down I could manage to interpret the Cyrillic signs quicker and finally made it to the red square. Now that I'm a professional Metro user it was easy to get back and changing the lines two times. Tomorrow I want to leave to Siberia to explore the wild country. I don't know what awaits me and my blog will be probably on hold for a few days...

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

First Impressions Of Moscow

It was fascinating to finally arrive at the Аэропорт Домодедово (Domodedovo). The trip was nice and the visa was ok - then some difficulties appeared. First I couldn't get any rubles out of the ATM. Always a messages popped up with "No Funds". I've talked with an American guy and he had the same experience. Later i found out that this message only comes when there is no paper in the machine to print out a receipt! Obviously nobody prints out a receipt ;) Then the biggest adventure of the evening started: Traveling to the city center via Taxi. It was a good decision not to get a special offer pirate taxi but a serious company with a fixed price to be paid in advance. The airport is located 20 Km outside of the city - Unfortunately the city center is more in the south and surrounded by traffic jams. It took "4" hours to get to the hotel. So I have spent one hour more in the Taxi as in the plane.

The weather here is quite nice -4°C to -8°C at the moment. Not a big deal. I had also my big appearance at the fair today. I have presented to an audience of 50 people how I think airports can work efficiently and the challenges for the future. This was actually big fun because I was working with an interpreter. The lady was very charming and so I could tell them what I wanted. Tomorrow will also be a busy day at the fair. Russian airports will talk about their challenges in the new market.

On Friday I have to have a plan what I will do the next few days. I've already found out that running around at low temperatures is not so much fun - So i will check out a nice place and transportation there.

Monday, 19 November 2007



Last week I returned safe home from Ecuador and also my luggage arrived a few days later. After being in Austria such a long time I'm again on travel. Tomorrow I head to Russia for a business travel and a few days sightseeing. The most difficult thing is to get the Russian visa. I'm glad my colleagues from the company took care of that. Now I have two passports to travel! The visa was issued during my stay in Ecuador and I had to get a second pass for it.

This week I will attend a fair in Moscow. It's called Terminals-Russia 2007 and I will represent my company there. After the fair is over I will extend my stay and explore cold Russia. Actually it has -12°C and that is not very cold for Russia. I expect many strange experiences and will report soon from Russia.


Sunday, 11 November 2007

¡Fin De Viaje!

I'm now in the airport again and have a lot of time until the next flight to Guayaquil. The journey is: Quito - Guayaquil - Madrid - Vienna - Graz

This attempt started very well today. All the food and drinks I've ordered yesterday was on the bill of Iberia. Here in the airport I could manage to get in the lounge for free because I could convince the staff that I really would enjoy my stay there [...]

Meanwhile I'm at home! Yesterday Iberia staff came to me in the VIP lounge and guided me to the check-in. They stoped the queue at the check-in and let me enter first. Then all passengers have been transfered in two planes to Guayaquil where the big Iberia plane waited for us. Madrid was a nightmare becuase of the queues in front of all security checks and passport controls. Hundreds of people had to wait for a long time to get served.

In Vienna there was a surprise for me - My luggage got lost on the way and it was not able to trace where it is. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get an update where it is. The rest of the journey was a two hours ride with the train throgh mountainus Austria. In upper styria there was already a lot of snow - Time for winter sport!!

Now my journey is over and I'm a bit sad that this nice time is over now. I'm very happy that I met so many nice people on my trip and look forward to see them again - Either in Ecuador or somewhere around the world.


Stuck in Quito!!

I almost made it to Madrid this evening - but almost is not enough! After coming early to the airport it took ages to get checked in because the plane was fully booked after the accident yesterday. We had to wait a couple of hours until we received the information that the airport is closed because of air turbulences. The plane was already on the way to Quito but had to return back to Guyaquil. The next announcement - again after hours - was that we have to stay over night in Quito and continue the travel at the next day. Tomorrow we will fly to Guyaquil and from there to Madrid. there we will arrive about 7-8 in the morning.

I'm now in the Marriott in Quito and had a nice midnight snack. I could manage to get a single suite instead the double feature that the airline provided. Instead of waiting together with the other stranded passengers I've took a cab to the hotel and was the last passenger of the first group. Now I'll have a nice bath and seep a few hours until we get picked up to the airport.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Iberia jet skids off runway at Quito airport

I was already wondering why I didn't have major troubles with buses this time. The reason is simply that this time I have problems getting back to Austria. I just spend some time if Iberia flies today or not - The flight should be scheduled and I'm heading off for the airport now - Here is a report from the A.P.:

QUITO, Ecuador - An Iberia jetliner skidded off a runway in Ecuador on Friday, an airport official said, the second such incident in the last four months. No injuries were reported.

At least one tire burst on the landing gear of the plane as it touched down, causing it to slide off the runway tipped on its wing, airport director Diego Pachel said.

He said the Airbus A340-600 - the largest aircraft authorized to land at Quito's Mariscal Sucre airport - took off from Madrid and was carrying 330 passengers.

On Aug. 31, the tires of another Iberia jet from the Spanish capital burst upon landing in the Ecuadorean capital. No injuries were reported. (AP)

Friday, 9 November 2007

Cuenca - Colonial Jewel On The South

Today I'm in Cuenca. After an early (05:00) and rather short trip to Guayaquil I've managed to get a express connection to Cuenca. On the road I've passed also the national Park "Cajas". This was great because the landscape is very unique. High mountains, lakes in the valleys and mosey green everywhere. Defenitly worth a visit! After arriving in the city I immediately went to the airport to get a ticket for Friday back to Quito. I didn't want to spend 10h in a Bus again. The ticket was quite affordable - 63$ for a 45min flight.

I'm here in a nice hostel - "El Monasterio". Its continently located in the city center AND at the 6th floor. That means a great view over the Plaza de San Francisco and the city. It's just around the corner of Parque Calderón - the finest plaza in town. As already mentioned the city has charm and is more laidback then Quito. I've visited today a Panama hat (sombrero de paja toquilla) factory and learned how the hats are produced. I have also decided to buy a classic Panama in beige. With the new sombrero I've walked further on and found some Inca ruins and also the main city museum with an impressive collection of live and life in Ecuador. There is also an exhibition with "shrink heads". Human heads shrunken to a size of a tennis ball - Ancient tribes wore these heads to demonstrate their power over enemies.

Tomorrow I will fly back to Qutio and prepare for my leave on Saturday. My journey will be finally over on Sunday late night.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Montañita - Surfers Paradise

I'm now finally in Montañita. It was a very long travel from Quito to Montañita. It took almost two days in tiny andean busses. I've chosen the route Quito - Latacunga - Quevedo - Manta - Montañita. This city is very laidback. Just surfers and some other stranded people are here. No "peligroso" all the time - That is very special for me. Yesterday, in Quevedo, I've decided to take a little walk to the central bus station which is located in the suburbs of the city. Unfortunatley I didn't find it at once and so I had to ask a taxi driver for assistance. This guy was very astounded that I made it through the slums without being bothered.

Today was totaly reserved for chilling and sufing. It was a perfect day - just the weather was a bit disturbing. It was rainy and foggy all day! But after this nice day I will proceed tomorrow to Cuenca - This will take about 12h busride if everythings works out smooth. In this city I will buy me a nice Panama hat and then proceed back to Qito.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

A Weekend In Baños

I'm now currently in Montañita, a little village at the coast. The last few days have been very busy and there was no time for a Blog update. Last weekend I have been with Joke, Marion, Will, John Paul, Hannes and Chris in Baños. This is not a toilet, it is a region in central Ecuador. It's also surrounded by Volcanoes as Quito but it is a special place for outdoor activities and thermal springs. We arrived Friday evening and met some other Europeans at dinner. Later we teamed up with them and visited some bars and had fun. Before going home we went to the local sightseeing attraction - a big waterfall. Spontaneously there was an idea to strip our clothes and get into the waterfall - at 3:00 in the morning! We had a lot of fun fooling around in the cold water. Some random Ecuadorians, still awake at this time, had cheap and fun entertainment by watching us. The next idea was to join some Ecuadorians having a party beside their car on the parking place beside the waterfall. We joined them in our wet underwear and had even a dance with them.

The rest of the Baños adventure was also very nice. On Saturday we had an extensive hike at the surrounding mountains. We could manage to see the volcano Tungurahua spitting out massive loads of ash and loud rumbling noise. After the hike we managed to get home in a truck.

On our final day, on Sunday, we went Canyoning. This is a sport when you hike down a canyon and jump or use ropes to climb down some obstacles. It was great fun and afterwards we had also nice grilled fish fresh from the river.

The only problem we had was our ride back to Quito. It was heavily raining at the afternoon and that caused a massive landslide. The bus had a delay of several hours and we finally arrived back in Quito at Monday morning at 1:00. Overall it was a perfect weekend with great friends!