Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India

Tripoto
1st Mar 2020
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

Our Instagram id:

https://www.instagram.com/shyleshramesh/

Planning an international trip from India on our own is a really difficult task since there is no much - on arrival visa options available while travelling from India ! That too from a remote town of India, it’s always a big task to identify and sort out the logistics of the trip from starting to the end.

In this blog we share our experience of travelling to end of the world - arctics from the southernmost part of India without help of any travel agents.

NORTHERN LIGHTS WITHIN A BUDGET:

For several months me, my wife and my friend and his wife were planning to make an international travel together. We were considering places like Spiti, Jordan etc. Almost finalised Jordan, but dropped it due to news based on attacks on foreign tourists. Me, My wife and friends were worried about dropping Jordan as it was very budget friendly and we can explore with self driving

Then we were discussing about travelling some other exotic location, differing in all aspects like language, culture but fitting a reasonable budget of 1.5 to 2 lakh per couple! Later we discussed about making northern lights based travel. Gathered budgets and travel details regarding - Finland - Rovaniemi. The budget was sky high in all modes of transport we could consider.

I suggested that if northern lights is the plan - we can consider Russia(if it fits our budget) as we can see northern lights there too! based on the blog - Russia and beyond (https://www.google.co.in/amp/s/www.rbth.com/travel/326730-best-places-northern-lights-russia/amp ). Then my friend told if this works out practically and fits our budget, then this will be the best idea we have ever derived !

ITS RUSSIA FINALLY:

Then started gathering all info about travelling Russia, visa processing for Indians and budget of the trip. We found everything was fitting our plan. It was almost December 2019. Our plan was to go in feb 2020. Started a whatsapp group - named it as ‘finally’ (did not mention the place name - as we already deleted two Jordan groups and similar other groups - didn’t work due to bad luck ). We gathered all possible info regarding stays, flights and visa. Locked the visa appointments.

Me and my wife went through video blogs Regarding how to get Russian visa by yatri doctor, Dhiren m bhagtani (clear video in YouTube regarding visa process to Russia), I went through blogs like - russiable.com and beyond Russia for more details about Russia travel. I was thinking that this plan was very unique, but my distant cousin - Raghu spoke randomly and told that he is visiting murmansk, st Petersburg in December 2019 for new year eve. Spoke with a traveller - Shifa Hashir randomly found in Instagram. They were from Kerala and they had visited Murmansk in November 2019. They helped us with some ideas regarding clothes to be packed.

We got visa appointment at VFS global. Their helpline is from 8 - 5 pm in weekdays and provide answers prompt. We finalised regarding northern lights tour and activities with - NORTH FOR YOU tour company, murmansk - which had a very reasonable pricing and arranged us invite to Russia - which is a very important document for tourist visit visa ! Nowadays Russian embassy is not receiving documents directly for processing visa - they suggest to come via VFS GLOBAL (it is the most reliable for Russian visa processing).

TIP:

* usually it takes 4 working days to get Russian tourist visa

*if you are entering and exiting Russia via st Petersburg then E- visa can be applied (with a short duration trip - less than 14 days).

* proper - invite to visit Russia can be provided by Russian recognised local tour companies or authorised website for a fee.

*Indian visa can be processed at VFS GLOBAL - CHENNAI / Mumbai / Delhi / Kolkatta based on the region you belong. Embassy is not receiving direct application nowadays.

*most of the time they expect only - invite, entry and exit days and valid passport (with more than 6 months for expiry). But it’s better to book flights and hotels prior. We had booked our stay in hotels - prince park at Moscow and congress meridian at Murmansk at a reasonable price through goibibo and booking.com websites. Didn’t not book airbnb to avoid confusions! We finalised Aeroflot from Delhi to Moscow as it was economical and shortest duration flight but non refundable on cancellation. Flights like Air Astana has refundable on cancellation options but duration is a bit longer with transit in Central Asia. After several research we finally identified - Pobeda Airlines - lowcost domestic airline (of Aeroflot company) to go to murmansk from Moscow. It’s booking was seamless in its own app. Paid in euros with credit card. We booked air tickets and hotels and submitted documents for visa process with invite.

Meanwhile, we started preparing/ purchasing required dress form decathlon. Since we made a trip earlier to Iceland in 2018 (with temp around 0-7 degree Celsius) we had an idea about purchasing winter clothing (but this time it is expected upto -15 degree Celsius!!!). We got better down jackets, thicker gloves, thermals, woollen lined track pant, touch sensitive gloves and other accessories in a very short duration we had.

VISA PROCESS:

A small error in invite which was sent to us was sorted out. Our visa appointment day was nearing!

We had doubts in filling visa form as our permanent address/ current address/ passport address varied. It was very difficult to sort out till last minute. We didn’t want any mistakes to happen in visa processing as all flights and hotels have been booked prior. We took travel insurance - reliance silver travel plan through policy bazaar website (it provides a good service !).

TIP:

*A good travel insurance is always safe.

*world nomads travel insurance looks good with better options, but we didn’t choose due to budget constraint.

We submitted the documents at VFS Center. They asked the invite, visa form, passport and dates of the trip and nothing else. Due to new year season they told it will take more time for the visa process. Slowly made efforts to learn some basics in Russian language through YouTube videos. Noted down a few simple and important conversations needed to be done. Then I applied in online to change my domestic debit card to internationally accessible one. Received it in 4-5 days. Purchased a few more required items like extra power bank, universal power plugs, charging cables etc. We kept writing the list of things needed for the trip. After 2 weeks, we received our visa in courier. We were happy and continued our packing works in full swing!

TIP:

*always good to have two universal plugs, two chargers, two power banks for safety backup.

*keep possible types of international debit and credit cards, so that if one card fails to work, the other may work!

News about corona virus started appearing everywhere by the end of January 2020. We were following news keenly to know whether it can affect our trip. India had cases identified that too in Kerala. We planned to start our trip from Kerala as we are currently living there. I started to gather news updates about Russia and came to know that it has closed its eastern borders and stopped flights directly from affected regions of China. Also they put a person in jail for pranking using corona disease. It increased us to be more cautious before and during travel. We even received a mail from Murmansk - congress meridian hotel asking us to reconfirm our visit, due corona threat in other parts of the world.

FINAL LEG OF PACKING:

We kept proceeding with all preparations for the trip. Since we are vegetarians and stopped consuming - sugar, refined flour and products with preservatives, we had a very very narrow range of option for the food in this trip. I came to know that Murmansk is not much vegetarian friendly, from the info I could gather from the Internet. Moscow had several vegan restaurants. We marked the locations in map and saved the address. Took - dried idiyappam, garlic/ dhal powder, millet based granola, nuts, dry fruits, wheat Khakra with us as a back up food. Applied leave, took copies of all necessary documents and kept in all bags. Also took medications and masks.

Our ONWARD PLAN was —

Kollam to kochi (by car) 13/02/2020 early morning 2:00 am

Kochi to Delhi by vistara airlines 13/02/2020 9:30am

Delhi to Moscow (SVO) - Aeroflot airlines 14/02/2020 5:50am

4 nights stay at Moscow

Moscow (vnukovo) to Murmansk by Pobeda Airlines 18/02/2020 7:45am

4 nights stay at Murmansk

RETURN PLAN:

Murmansk to Moscow (vnukovo) 22/02/2020 10:45 am

Moscow (SVO) to Delhi 22/02/2020 7:45 pm

Delhi to Mumbai 23/02/2020 8:30 am

Mumbai to Trivandrum 23/02/2020 3:15 pm

My wife prepared lemon rice and flavoured chapatti for managing food throughout our stay at Delhi before flight.

THE TRIP:

While we were preparing for the trip, just 3-4 days before the departure date, our friends told that they couldn’t make for the trip due to a medical emergency in their family. The trip was planned for a fun travel experience with friends. We never expected something drastic incident might happen in this trip. Also we finalised the destination - Russia in a very short time frame (only 2 months we had before departure ) just because all our leave dates, northern lights and budget fell in place together! Finally me and my wife proceeded to the trip.

Day 1

Domestic travel

Kollam / kochi / Delhi:

Last day - we were very busy - packing, cooking, checking the documents. Informed the bank and credit card people about our trip dates so that they won’t block our cards thinking that we made suspicious transactions from outside country. We double checked with the driver to be on time to pick us from home - kundara a small town in Kollam district kerala, to kochi airport.

We slept just 4 hrs in night and were very anxious about the trip. Woke up early morning (?midnight 12-30 am) got ready, checked everything. Driver picked us from home by 2:00 am (13/02/2020).

TIP:

*inform debit and credit card company prior to international travel to avoid card blockage.

*keep good time space to reach international flight. Reaching earlier to airport may be boring, but its always good.

Me and wife were very sleepy due to continuous packing works and lack of sleep. Managed to reach Cochin airport ahead of time. We had an excess baggage - a bit more than we expected (since the analogue weight machine we used to check at home was not accurate !) . Tried to rearrange and reduce some weight. Cleared the security check and got the flight. Vistara flight was fine with no meal included.

TIP:

*in case u are taking two shoes (like casual shoes, hiking boots etc) wear the heavier one while going to airport to avoid excess weight in check in baggage.

*also read the dimensions of baggage you are taking as many flight companies are particular about the dimension of baggage.

*keep selfie stick/umbrella, screws in check in baggage.

*you can take dry food items in your hand baggage to have in waiting area of airport or in flight.

*we took garlic powder, curry leaves powder in check in baggage - it was allowed. Also u can take upto 8 kg - dry type food stuff to Russia.

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

Reached Delhi on time around 1:00 pm. Got the baggage. We took Indian rupee in hand for conversion to rubles. Since the conversion rates are not favourable we deposited back most of the INR. Just a small amount of Indian rupee we kept with us for emergency. Withdrawing rubles money at Russia or using card transaction is more profitable than conversion.

Photo of T3, Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, India by Shylesh
Photo of T3, Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, India by Shylesh
Photo of T3, Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, India by Shylesh

DELHI AEROCITY AIRPORT HOTEL, MAHIBALPUR —-We stayed at Delhi aerocity airport hotel, since our flight was on next day early morning only. We had to re arrange the items in due to excess baggage weight. Also checked the baggage weight with the help of digital weighing machine which was luckily available there! We took some rest.We took the food which we brought with us. Refreshed ourself and repacked the baggage.

Day 2

Went to Delhi airport t3 terminal next day early morning around 2:00 am. It was very busy and crowded. We entered inside and found that our flight got delayed by 3 hrs. Any how we were allowed to check in and finished the security and visa checks. We were very tired due to lack of proper sleep. Checked whether any lounge access available with my credit card.

TIP:

* Delhi airport is well equipped with adequate facilities.

* There was a cash deposit machine too! Sbi cash deposit machine charges Rs.25 per deposit. There is a glitch with all Sbi cash deposit machine. It doesn’t accept some rupee notes.

*know about lounge access for your credit/ debit cards prior. Also certain networks like Vodafone provide such free lounge access in airport.

*we can check the baggage weight for free at Delhi airport, prior to check in.

*there is a pharmacy at Delhi t3 international departure, where you can buy important SOS drugs in last minute.

Plaza premium Lounge at first floor had complimentary access for my credit card. It was really worth there to have some food and sleep peacefully. We refreshed in lounge and boarded flight around 8:30am.

no water refilling facilities - had to get plastic bottle (so she is serious)

Photo of Plaza Premium Lounge, Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), Delhi, India by Shylesh
Photo of Plaza Premium Lounge, Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), Delhi, India by Shylesh
Photo of Plaza Premium Lounge, Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), Delhi, India by Shylesh

Aeroflot - food inflight

Photo of Plaza Premium Lounge, Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), Delhi, India by Shylesh
Photo of Plaza Premium Lounge, Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), Delhi, India by Shylesh
Photo of Plaza Premium Lounge, Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), Delhi, India by Shylesh

costa cafe terminal D SVO

Photo of Plaza Premium Lounge, Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), Delhi, India by Shylesh

MOSCOW:

Reached Moscow SVO (terminal D) airport 3 hrs later than expected, due to boarding delay. Immigration process was smooth. We collected the baggage. Got beeline SIM card - from a mobile shop in airport (megafon is a good network but unfortunately we could not get that due to unavailable staff in the outlet that time). Then we had a cup of coffee. Tried withdrawing money from ATM (there were about 3-4 ATM machines) at arrival. There is a metro service- Aeroexpress from airport to city center. Since we had big baggage so we got taxi - Yandex outlet at arrival for a reasonable price (call taxi charges are similar to charges in India).

TIP:

*download necessary apps for navigating in Russia - Yandex - maps, taxi, metro. Google translator, Gett taxi, Russian Railways app.

*some atm machine will be in Russian. Check out language option before inserting the card. I used green coloured bank atm - SBERBANK in all cash withdrawals. It was good!

*sheremetyevo, vnukovo airport maps are available in online. Better to have those information handy in mobile to access the airport easily.

*airport had boards in English too!

sheremetyevo terminal D

Photo of Sheremetyevo - A.S. Pushkin international airport, Terminal D, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

terminal D

Photo of Sheremetyevo - A.S. Pushkin international airport, Terminal D, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

costa cafe SVO TERMINAL D

Photo of Sheremetyevo - A.S. Pushkin international airport, Terminal D, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

ALL SET TO MOSCOW

Aeroflot airlines:

All our flight tickets were booked in economy segment. We have travelled in emirates, Lufthansa previously. Aeroflot facilities and comfort was not on par with Lufthansa! As usual touch screen entertainment media was very slow in response. It didn’t work and could not be reset too! They provide food menu written in Russia and English before serving. Food was ok. But they use lots of plastic covers in packaging and provide one time use plastic spoon/fork for super hot food!!! That’s really dangerous! It’s passable type of flight for an economical and short journey.

TIP:

*take some wet tissue (that is not allergic to your skin) with yourself during flight journey for toilet purpose!

*there are 3 international airports in Moscow - sheremetyevo Pushkin, vnukovo, domodedovo. All in different places of Moscow. Be sure which airport you

are entering and exiting through.

Informed the hotel personnel regarding our delay in check in. We got the taxi and headed towards Prince park hotel near tyoplyy Stan metro stop (orange line). There was a strong snow fall for sometime. Our driver looked sleepy, hence we kept talking to him in Russian, with the help of google translator. On the way we enjoyed the winter scenes and snow fall in the Moscow city. Temperature was around zero degree. We reached the hotel and entered through the revolving glass door. There was no problem in delayed check in. A few receptionists there could speak english. So it was easy for us to communicate. We went for a walk to nearby shopping area. It was busy and crowded. So we came back to hotel and had some boiled rice, boiled vegetable and brown rye bread (this turned out to be our main diet for next few days!). We slept with anxiety and dreams about upcoming days in Russia.

TIP:

*I could draw money from my international debit card but didn’t work in swipe machines!

*some hotels have atm in their lobby area - better to use it, than unknown public atms !

*first timers and those who don’t know russian, it’s better to book hotels or any other stay with a prominent location Landmark to avoid confusion in reaching it (since many people speak only Russian and you may find it difficult in first day itself to reach your stay)

*be careful while walking in streets and pavements. Improper shoes and carelessness may make you to slip and fall. This occurs due to black ice (ice on the surface).

*also it’s always better to stay nearby metro station for easy commute.

Photo of Prince Park Hotel, Novoyasenevskiy Prospekt, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Prince Park Hotel, Novoyasenevskiy Prospekt, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Day 3

morning breakfast - vegetarian option

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

metro subway

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

Moscow metro

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

a random Russian public who helped us with direction to red square

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

gum mall exterior

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

GUM MALL

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

finally we made it

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

red square - bustling area

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

St Basil’s cathedral

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

metro station Moscow

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

metro entrance Moscow

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

inside st basil’s cathedral

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

choir !

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

art work inside st basil’s cathedral

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

We woke up earlier around 5:30 am . The breaksfast was available by 6:30 am (Breakfast is complimentary) We got ready, had rye brown bun, vegetables, unsweetened cereals, porridge for the breakfast. Dressed up to tackle subzero temperature, took necessary camera gadgets and walked towards nearby metro - Tyoply Stan (orange line). On the way a girl saw my wife and came to her, asked are you guys from India?(with happy face) then we told yes we are from India. She was so excited and shouted ‘I love india!’. We were happy to know that Russian like India ! We started our journey happily. At ticket counter we thought to manage with the google translator but failed due to network problem in sub way. But somehow got the metro pass. Checked the route and train to go.

Took the train to Tretyakovskaya. There was an old man playing Accordion in the metro subway!Announcements inside the metro train was in both Russian and English. We got down in the stop and talked to a russian regarding the metro exit we have to take to reach kremlin. She showed us the way, coming along with us, changing to green line to exit via Okhotny riad.

We came out of the subway and was enjoying the view of Gum mall, st basil cathedral and kremlin! The gloomy feel which we had slowly melted away!

Gum mall architecture was pleasant and attractive belonging to 19th century. We walked inside gum mall. Colour of the mall was so calm. We spent some time there and came out. Walked towards St basils cathedral. Most colourful building in Moscow, I believe. The architectural style was a mix of Byzantine (eastern roman ) and Asian style. We went inside the cathedral (ticket cost- 700 rubles) . It had many artworks, paintings and articles which they used 3 to 4 centuries before. Witnessed a male vocal ensemble - choir without instruments in their traditional style. The pitch in which they sang and the sounds they made were great! The view of kremlin from inside st basil cathedral was good from the upper floors. Got two matryoshka doll for my nephew and niece. Walked out and thought have lunch nearby.

We went to a vegan restaurant - Avacado with the help of google maps. Walked around 2 km observing and enjoying the city and reached it. The menu was mind blowing for the vegetarians like us, who finds no option to eat in most of the places. We had avacado burger (it was made of avacado instead of bun). It was VKUSNO ! (means delicious in Russian). Also had buckwheat noodles, Bulgarian bell pepper soup. All were delicious. The restaurant owner spoke about the recent increase in veganism in Moscow, due to health benefits. After a satisfying meal we walked towards kremlin in a shorter route through a nearby subway.

vegan menu

Photo of Avocado Cafe, Tverskaya Street, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Avocado Cafe, Tverskaya Street, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

avacado burger

Photo of Avocado Cafe, Tverskaya Street, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

Bulgarian bell pepper soup

Photo of Avocado Cafe, Tverskaya Street, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

buckwheat noodles

Photo of Avocado Cafe, Tverskaya Street, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

happy vegan food❤️

Photo of Avocado Cafe, Tverskaya Street, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Avocado Cafe, Tverskaya Street, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Avocado Cafe, Tverskaya Street, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

Around 4:00 pm we saw guard changing ceremony that takes place at tomb of an unknown soldier near kremlin. It takes place every hour. We walked around kremlin. At that time we met a random old Russian woman who was happy to us since we were from India. While conversing, she told she was from yakutsk and temperature there dropped upto minus 50 degrees recently!

tomb of unknown soldier

Photo of Mogila Neizvestnogo Soldata, Александровский сад, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Mogila Neizvestnogo Soldata, Александровский сад, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

Then we got the return train at biblioteka Imeni lenina. Our metro card didn’t work. The card which we got in morning is only for 3 trips (we asked for 3 days actually). Somehow we explained again in the ticket counter and got for 3 days(it’s only 400 rubles per person to use metro for 3 days- unlimited trips). They came to know that we were Indians - the security cop welcomed us telling ‘NAMASHKAR’! We reached park kultry - changed to brown lane from Oktyabrskaya and we reached our stop.

TIP:

*moscow metro is the largest metro network in the world. It is one of the oldest metro network.

*accessing Moscow metro is easy if you have the map, know English and basic Russian words to buy ticket.

*there is English mention in all boards. Announcements also available in english.

*we need to know whether the destination we are going is north bound or south bound. Inside the North bound train - announcements are in Male voice and in south bound train the announcements are in female voice.

*there are special Moscow metro tourism (organised by Moscow metro itself). There are musical events organised everyday in specific stations in specific time - mentioned in Moscow metro website.

We reached room. Spoke with Mrs Victoria Smirnova - our local travel guide for the next day to visit nearby towns and villages. We had rice, millet granola (which we brought) for the dinner. Slowly became comfortable with Russia

Day 4

We got ready and had the same breakfast as yesterday. Viki Smirnova told she will pick us from the hotel where we stayed. She came along with her 3 years old child Raya. We packed lunch for us to eat - idiyappam. Started by car kia - estate type. Viki gave us a brief orientation about the Moscow city. She explained us regarding various buildings, monuments, hospitals, people life, culture and Soviet history! She communicated with us in English. She knows English and mandarin apart from Russian language. Her 3 year old daughter was so shy at the beginning.

viki Smirnova and Raya

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

kremlin from the bridge

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

Vladimir

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

KGB - BUILDING

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

in front of kremlin

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

space race monument

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

space exploration achievement monument

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

Then we gradually left the city and went in highway road towards - Yaroslav. We went to radonezh village. Saw a few houses on they way in periphery of the cities and they are houses for the Russian to stay in summer. We reached radonezh church. It was an isolated building with a scenic wooden water wheel. The snow was covering almost all places, adding beauty to the view. My wife was falling love with that place and awestruck by the view. We wondered how Raya was playing in snow for long time without wearing any glove! She was rolling on the snow! The place was calm and wonderful. It had a statue of Sergius of radonezh.

Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

radonezh monastery

Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

way to water wheel

Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radonezh, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

After spending some time in radonezh, we went to lake torbeyevo. Witnessed a big frozen lake. There was a lake resort too. We walked on the frozen lake for the first time it was an amazing experience. Met a few fishermen there catching fish by drilling into the frozen lake. Suddenly a flimsy part of the ice over lake broke while walking. So care must be taken while walking on a frozen lake. Sometimes it may break open and your legs may enter inside the lake. Raya was enjoying as much as we were ! We just loved the place.

Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

pier

Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

standing on frozen lake

Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

standing on frozen lake

Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

suddenly the ice broke open while walking!

Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

drilling the ice layer for fishing in the frozen lake

Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

jumping on the frozen lake

Photo of Torbeyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

Next we went to a place called - 12 streams(off road) enroute was so thrilling. When we got down, viki Smirnova - travel guide started explaining about the things in English. A random guy asked why we were talking in English and made fun of us. Viki Smirnova managed politely. We think some people in Russia donot like much about using English. That place was another mind blowing picturesque location with wooden churches in Russian style architecture. As always the entire place covered with the snow! It was a remote location with off road. We hiked around the place. The visuals were dream like.

en route

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

12 stream monastery

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

raya with her cycle

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

bridge and the stream

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

the road

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

the wooden buildings ❤️

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

the wooden buildings ❤️

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

the wooden buildings ❤️

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

Afterwards we went to famous SergievPosad monastery (one of the golden circle locations). There was a canteen in that monastery, where we had our own food and tried a vegetarian soup (russian style). It was dark soon due to winter. We totally enjoyed the monastery’s view from outside and from a telescope kept along the road for public viewing.

Photo of Sergius temple, Sergiev Posad, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sergius temple, Sergiev Posad, Russia by Shylesh

Sergiev Posad

Photo of Sergius temple, Sergiev Posad, Russia by Shylesh

telescope

Photo of Sergius temple, Sergiev Posad, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sergius temple, Sergiev Posad, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sergius temple, Sergiev Posad, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sergius temple, Sergiev Posad, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sergius temple, Sergiev Posad, Russia by Shylesh

Raya became close to us by the evening. She started liking us a lot. We gave her roasted/salted cashews from Kollam. She liked a lot. On the way back to Moscow, we were discussing about the history of Russia. Viki discusses with us about Leo Tolstoy, his works like Anna karenina and about his life as a vegetarian. Also talked about Dostoevsky, Lenin, Stalin. She wanted to know more about vegetarian cooking from my wife. Discussed about culture and people of India and Russia. Finally reached the hotel by 8:30 pm. Raya was so sad that she didn’t wanna tell us bye! She started crying. We couldn’t calm her down and as well as we also missed Raya. We just loved the trip with both of them, viki Smirnova was so friendly. Then we went back to room and took rest. It was a great experience to hangout with a local guide along with her child and exploring places.

TIP:

* we were happy that we travelled with a local traveller and guide like - Victoria (viki) Smirnova in her own vehicle to the peripheries of Moscow.

* the places were breathtaking and not much touristy.

* travelling with her gave a good perspective about the city and people!

Day 5

Today we planned to leisurely have a boat cruise ride in Moscova river and wind up back to hotel to pack up things and get ready for Murmansk flight. We had the same breakfast. I called radisson cruise booking center and spoke in English. Suddenly they cut the call. Then I called back again and asked ‘vy gavariye po angliski?’ (can you speak English? -in Russian) then they connected to a English speaking personnel. They told about the cruise timings and booking. We started from tyoplyy Stan metro station and went to Kievskaya metro via Oktyabrskaya. From there we walked for about 2 km to the cruise pier. Enroute we saw the sky scrappers of Moscow. Reached radisson cruise pier by 12:45 pm and got the tickets (900 rubles per person). Boarded the cruise and it started by 1:00 pm. The cruise gave a panoramic view of the iconic sites of the city. Saw ice blocks in river due to winter. We enjoyed the views and had rice with vegetable curry in cruise. The views, winter breeze and the cruise all together set up a blissful combination. We enjoyed cold weather with our jumpsuits, standing outside and taking snaps. My wife did a small dance out of joy. There was a photographer who could take pics of you and you can buy those if you liked it. The cruise was till 3:30pm. It went upto Gorky park and came back to Kievskaya area. We got down and walked to Kievskaya metro station.

skyscrapers of Moscow

Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

Moscow city

Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

inside the cruise

Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

bridge

Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

lunch

Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

monument

Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

Zarydaye floating bridge

Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

kremlin

Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

kremlin

Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

radisson cruise pier

Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Radisson Royal Moscow, Cruise Company, Kiyevsky Station Square, Moscow, Russia by Shylesh

We were confused whether to go back to room so that we can pack the things and get some rest as we had to leave to Vnukovo airport by 3:00 am next day. On the other hand we were already missing Moscow ! So we got down at - park kultry metro station. From there Gorky park was about 1.5 km distance. We walked enjoying the city views, over the bridge. While walking on the bridge a guy came to us and asked whether we were Indians. We told yes! He told he loves India and said ‘Welcome to Russia ! and he sang a song called - Jimi jimi !!! We could not understand him. We smiled at him and walked again. Reached Gorky park. Saw polar bear like statue decorated with lights. We did a video call to nephew in India to show him. Just walked around sometime. Thought to leave soon. We got train from another station Oktyabrskaya and reached our hotel. We packed our things and organised properly as the domestic flight allows only 20kg baggage allowance. Booked airport shuttle to reach vnukovo airport for Murmansk flight next day. I checked in online and took the printouts - from 24 hours business room at the hotel we stayed. Informed reception people regarding check out and wake up call for next day.

TIP:

*within a day you will be comfortable with accessing Moscow metro.

*radisson - moscova river cruise is definitely worthy experience.

Gorky park

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

business center in prince park hotel

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

reception

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Day 6

Had rye bun early morning, which we got from the hotel previous night and took a few more with us to have at airport. Cleared off check out procedures. Took airport shuttle vehicle at 3:00 am. On the way we were talking with the driver. He asked us where we were from. We told we were from India. He started singing - ‘jimi jimi’ song like the one who sang yesterday! We were confused again as we are not familiar with what they sing. Asked him with the translator. He told its some famous Indian song. He told he was from Armenia and he likes India! We happily smiled at him and got down at airport. Entered inside. We saw baggage weighing machines, with a charge of 50 rubles per baggage, but we didn’t use it. Completed check in process at Pobeda Airlines counter. They were very particular about the carryon luggage size. There is a stand with dimensions prescribed by the airlines. We should fit our carryon baggage in it and show them that it’s in correct dimension. Otherwise they may charge extra. Somehow our carryon bags were flexible and fit in it. Cleared the security check and went to the gate. As the time passed it became crowded ! I was having mild cold, hence was sleeping and took some rest. My wife was awake looking after the carry on bags. Then we both had a coffee. At that time we were thinking why random Russians who met us sang - jimi jimi song?! We searched jimi jimi in YouTube. It showed a song called - jimi jimi aaja - an old Hindi song from movie - Disco Dancer! Since we were South Indians we were not much familiar about that song. Further search results showed Russian versions of that song. So we came to know that they were trying to tell us about that song! At least we could guess that. Flight was on time. Before boarding they again checked dimensions of our carryon bags. We removed bottles, camera bag from the carryon bag. Then our bag dimensions were right.

TIP:

*its always important to know some Russian conversations in handy.

*always better to read the baggage allowances and dimensions allowed inflight - mentioned in ticket or the email being sent to us.

*low cost domestic airlines won’t provide food inflight. So be prepared with the meal part.

Photo of Vnukovo International Airport, Vnukovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Vnukovo International Airport, Vnukovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

at vnukovo airport

Photo of Vnukovo International Airport, Vnukovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

at vnukovo airport

Photo of Vnukovo International Airport, Vnukovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

vnukovo airport

Photo of Vnukovo International Airport, Vnukovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

Pobeda Airlines

Photo of Vnukovo International Airport, Vnukovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Vnukovo International Airport, Vnukovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

vnukovo airport

Photo of Vnukovo International Airport, Vnukovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Vnukovo International Airport, Vnukovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Vnukovo International Airport, Vnukovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

The aeroplane views on the route was spectacular with tundra vegetation! I was able to identify Volga River (I guess). Check out pics below!

Moscow aerial view

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

the patterns from the sky

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

Volga river

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

moon like terrain

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

sky, clouds and ice

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

tundra vegetation

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

landing at Murmansk

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

My wife was tired since she didn’t sleep in airport. So she had a deep sleep inflight. Pobeda Airlines in this route will provide only drinking water. I was enjoying the view from the window. When the flight landed in Murmansk everyone started clapping! (Since the journey and drive was breathtaking!). The airport was small like the one we saw in Lakshadweep. A group of 3-4 members checked our passports and asked the purpose of our visit. Then they left us to take our luggage. Previous day itself we contacted north for you - tour company that organised northern light chase in Murmansk. We got the picture and information of the driver who came to pick us from airport. We took our baggage and met him. Started in that car to hotel - meridian congress Murmansk. On the way everything was covered with snow. We are inside the arctics now! What else we can expect? It took an hour to reach the city.

landed at Murmansk

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

aeroport Murmansk

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

enroute to city

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

Murmansk !

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

city view

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

inside congress meridian hotel

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

congress meridian hotel

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

view from the room

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

MURMANSK - FINALLY INSIDE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE:

We reached the hotel congress meridian Murmansk. Check in took time. It became late when we finally tried to have some sleep. At that time northern lights guide called us and told to be ready earlier than informed previously, since the aurora activity was high that day. Then again we started to get ready with multi layer dressing. Before leaving for northern lights hunting we thought to have some food and go. We got only mashed potatoes - as vegetarian option was less! Prepared black tea and took with us. Travelled in a van with 8-10 people who came from various parts of the world like - US, europe, Korea, other parts of Russia. It was very dark and no much lights on the way(darkness is important to witness aurora). Network problem was also there due to remote location.

Aurora borelias - northern lights - (North Pole)

Aurora Australis - southern lights (South Pole)

Both are formed by interaction of massive ball of plasma from the sun with earth’s magnetosphere. Excited oxygen atoms emit green and red colour. Excited niteogen atoms produce blue and deep red colour.

They made first stop after 40 mins. We got down and it was freezing cold with temperature about minus -15 degrees. Northern lights was starting to appear vaguely and was not much bright as we expected. We made two more stops. In final stop the northern lights started to spread and evolved more and more brighter. It was exciting to catch those moments of green coloured lights appearing and dancing with violet margins against dark sky! We were able to enjoy northern lights from 8pm to 2pm that night. Intermittently we went inside van to make ourself warm. We tried to capture it with our mobile cam using a few apps. It came out reasonably well. The guide- (Anthony) took snaps of us with the northern lights! We asked one of the travellers from US that why she came to Murmansk, as Canada or Alaska is nearby for them to witness northern lights. They told Murmansk was budget friendly comparatively. We were chatting with a Russian couple - Alevtina zazdravnih and her husband. They were about to return in the same flight we have planned to go. It was a lucky day. We never thought that we would see it! Because the weather was not so favourable according to previous day predictions!

posing with aurora

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

tried in mobile cam

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

tried in mobile cam

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

tried in mobile cam

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

tried in mobile cam

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

tried in mobile cam

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

We returned to hotel room. The northern lights kept running in our mind! It was the best experience of this trip we thought, until we saw TERIBERKA!

TIP:

* Vnukovo airport is well equipped with basic needs. It has a sleeping pods to sleep some time if you are too early (charged on hour basis).

* better to be earlier to the airport to avoid delay due to check in and security check process.

* be careful with the dimensions of luggages and carry on bags, while choosing the airlines.

* coordinate properly with the northern lights guide in advance. Keep your mobile internet on! Most of the messages and details from the guide are shared through whatsapp.

* take fully charged power banks with you when you travel to subzero temperature areas. Because mobile batteries drain/ malfunction and may get switched off soon!

* take some hot black tea in thermos with you to drink something during the trip.

* better to use the toilets at the hotel before leaving for the northern lights chase, as it’s dark and no restrooms will be available for nature calls.

* stay at least 3-4 nights, wherever you planned to see northern lights as it’s a natural phenomena. It may or may not be witnessed, due to unfavourable weather.

Day 7

Had a good and continuous sleep. Evan, our guide for Sami village visit texted us about his arrival. We got ready, took some rice and boiled vegetables for breakfast. Packed idiyappam with garlic powder for lunch. Started the journey with Evan. Along with us one more couple - Mr and Mrs Ilia came from Ural Mountains - Russia. We were chatting with them. They knew English too. Asked them regarding Kamchatka peninsula and Vladivostok. Even they were yet to explore those areas.

After an hour’s drive we reached Sami village cultural center, by the way we enjoyed the enroute as well. Saw - reindeers, husky dogs, rabbits, Wolverine animal (domesticated). There were God idols based on nature. Their beliefs and worshipping God were similar to Indian way. They were explaining how they hunt animals and about bears,Wolverine too. There are Sami people in Norway, Finland and Sweden as well. Sami people from Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland will meet together once in a year during September. Since their food was mostly animal based, we had food which we brought. After having our we experienced a funny sledge ride (similar to banana boat ride). Spent some time there and returned. Once returned, we went to a nearby supermarket Yevroros to buy something to eat since food in the hotel where we stayed was expensive and had less vegetarian options. We bought a bread pack after conversing a guy working there, using google translator (to know whether it does not contains egg) and some fruits. This is the first time in last 1.5 years we were having (refined flour) bread, since we stopped consuming refined flour products.

enroute

Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

Sami village cultural center

Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

reindeers

Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

fellow travellers Mr and Mrs Ilia from Ural Mountains

Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Sami National Cultural Center, улица Советская, Lovozero, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Day 8

69 DEGREE NORTH !

35 degree east !

We both never thought the real high point of the trip was this day. We as usual got ready in morning after breakfast with food packed by us. Started to Teriberka with our guide - Olga along with some travellers along with us. We opted to guided tours as all these areas around Murmansk are very difficult or some times inaccessible by going alone. The way is so narrow with frequent road blocks! Driving in these routes under extreme weather are really challenging. As we proceeded our guide Olga very well explained about the life in Teriberka. It’s really tough! We took two stops on the way to feel some amazing views of ARCTICS! Teriberka city was isolated. The cars, buses, school vans were buried inside the snow. Some parts looked like ghost city. People are there. Active schools are present. We got down in a spot and started on a sledge ride - pulled by a motorised snow mobile. At first we thought it was a casual ride. But slowly turned into extreme ! Snow specks flying all over due to strong wind. It’s really hard to drive in such conditions. We were holding the sledge tight, recording in video whatever we could! It’s was like another world.

our first stop

Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

panorama

Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

the van in which we travelled

Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

the landscape!

Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

Martian terrain !

Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

Barrents sea

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

pic of the trip ❤️

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

from the arctics

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

It was the most extreme location we have ever been. Nature in its Wildest phase. Everyones mobile phones got switched off due to extreme weather. We suddenly felt like the scene from Tamil movie - Ayirathil oruvan, where people become disturbed or disoriented due to supernatural energy. Felt some thing strange (in a positive way) when witnessed extreme pure nature. Still tried to power the mobile with the power bank and tried to take a few pics and videos. Hands were freezing and becoming numb each time we removed the glove ! They took us to a nearby place where we faced extreme wind that was crazy. After some time we reached back the place from where we started with snowmobile sledge. There we had the food which we brought. We were thinking that we would be the first people in the world to eat idiyappam in arctic circle(LOL!!) Later we stopped at two places in Teriberka one with boat wrecks and another one was sand beach. The beach had some Funky settings like photo frame and swing in the edge of the world. But the place was as usual calm and breathtaking!

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

funky frame at the arctics

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

swing at the end of the world

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

Started our return journey. We couldn’t believe the places we saw and things those happened that day were real. Teriberka!

Only one more day left in our trip. Started to miss the trip ! Didn’t want to end it.

TIP:

* favourable weather conditions to visit Teriberka are as important as norther lights!

* frequent road blocks are there. So stay for a stretch of 3-4 days, so that you won’t miss to visit!

* dress well to protect yourself from extreme weather.

* take adequate power banks, gloves and food.

Day 9

We packed and rearranged stuffs in baggage accordingly as we were leaving the next day. Headed to snow mobiling around 11:00 am with Ksenia, our guide. Along with us two more persons from Korea came! Snow mobiling Center was outside the city. Had to put on special snow mobiling suite and boots. Fixed my action cam - SJCAM overt the helmet. Me and my wife went together in a snow mobiling. It was our first experience to do snow mobiling. It was almost like driving a bike but skidding tendency is high. The ride was about an hour journey in that tundra region. The visuals were as usual captivating. It was like loosing ourselves in a white

horizon. We enjoyed doing snowmobiling in such extreme weather condition(minus 15 degree Celsius) After completing the ride we changed our dress and started to return back to our room.While returning we talked to another guy who organises travel in Murmansk. He was happy about us coming all the way from India to Murmansk. He said some people who missed to see northern lights in Iceland tend to visit Murmansk. When asked about spotting walrus, he told it will be in more isolated islands of arctics. Russia has a military control on several islands of arctic, which are of strategic importance!

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

view from the room

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

fun fact - northernmost mc Donald’s in the world (we NEVER promote mc Donald’s or any fast food)

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

relax !

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

the snow in the pathway being cleared

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Day 10

The next 36 hours was a roller coaster ride with continuous 4 flights, to reach our home town in India. Completed packing, had breakfast. Took some bread in our hand baggage, which we bought two days ago. Checked out the hotel.(they gave a - registration form that we stayed in that particular hotel during our trip, which may be sometime asked at airport ). The same driver Anatoly, who received us, took to departure. We started by 7:30 am. Reached airport by an hour. Our flight was about to depart by 10:45am. We completed the check in and security check process. Waited for departure. It’s small airport with totally 3 gates for departure. Seats and restrooms are very less in number. Had a coffee. Saw a few Indians out there! All heading to Moscow in the same flight.

Flight was on time. While boarding we saw the Russian couple who came with us during northern lights hunt. The tiredness slowly started to set it. We got some sleep and 2 cups of water. As planned we reached Moscow - vnukovo airport by 1:15pm. From vnukovo we got a taxi from airport arrivals and reached sheremetyevo airport (took about 1.5 hrs), from where we had flight to Delhi by 7:45pm.

Photo of Murmansk Airport, Аэропорт, Murmashi, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Murmansk Airport, Аэропорт, Murmashi, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Murmansk Airport, Аэропорт, Murmashi, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Murmansk Airport, Аэропорт, Murmashi, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Murmansk Airport, Аэропорт, Murmashi, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh
Photo of Murmansk Airport, Аэропорт, Murmashi, Murmansk Oblast, Russia by Shylesh

We reached SVO - terminal D- departure by 3:30pm with adequate time for check in process. We were very hungry. At last found an Uzbekistan based restaurant with vegan options! We ate boiled vegetables. Paid using the remaining rubles we had with us. Airport was very busy with lots of flights to several parts of the world. There were many central Asian flights. We departed on time.

menu from Uzbekistan style restaurant

Photo of Sheremetyevo - A.S. Pushkin international airport, Khimki, Russia by Shylesh

SVO TERMINAL D departures

Photo of Sheremetyevo - A.S. Pushkin international airport, Khimki, Russia by Shylesh

Uzbek style baked potato and zucchini

Photo of Sheremetyevo - A.S. Pushkin international airport, Khimki, Russia by Shylesh

In flight we didn’t sleep properly, since it too much time when they served the dinner! There were lots of plastics in food packages provided for dinner in Aeroflot flight. Plastic cutlery for hot food ! (That’s not a good combination)

lots of PLASTICS ???? in Aeroflot flight

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

lots of plastics ???? in Aeroflot flights

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh
Day 11

Flight was on time. Reached Delhi at 4:20 am. Cleared immigration and other security check processes! Reached the domestic gates by 7:00 am to catch - spice jet flight which was to depart by 8:30 am.

comfy seats while waiting for the spicejet flight at Delhi airport

Photo of Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), Terminal 3, Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Shylesh

Boarded the flight on time. Happy to get some Indian vegetarian food at a lower price as we pre booked! Idly, dosa and uthappam. We were happy to see that no plastics were used in food packages except bottle!Wow ! Hats off spice jet! Luckily we were on time for all connecting flights!

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

I thought leg room was just a luxury... until I did a long flight travel

Photo of Budget Trip To Arctics/northern Lights - RUSSIA - Moscow And Murmansk From South India by Shylesh

We reached Mumbai by 11:00 am. And our next and final flight to Trivandrum was around 3:00pm. We refreshed ourself. Cleared security checks. Found a vegan restaurant there - ALL GOOD DELI. We tried quinoa poha. It was a bit relaxed as we successfully got all connecting flights on right time!Then walked to the gates. Mumbai airport is really a good airport with too much of detailing in interior aspect with adequate facilities! Flight started on time. We were in deep sleep until we reached Trivandrum.

Mumbai airport views

Photo of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Shylesh

Mumbai airport

Photo of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Shylesh

quinoa poha

Photo of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Shylesh
Photo of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Shylesh

after some veg food!

Photo of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Shylesh
Photo of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Shylesh

Reached airport on time. Had a small corona screening with thermal scanning device at Trivandrum. The same driver who dropped during departure came on time. We took our baggage and started another 2 hour journey to our home - kundara, kerala.

Final tip:

Plan ahead the logistics!

Travel responsibly!

Save environment

Missed our friends in this trip as they could not join us!

- Shylesh and Vaishnavi

https://www.instagram.com/shyleshramesh/

Photo of trivandrum domestic airport, Vallakkadavu, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India by Shylesh
Photo of trivandrum domestic airport, Vallakkadavu, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India by Shylesh

happy to see these words ! Trivandrum airport

Photo of trivandrum domestic airport, Vallakkadavu, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India by Shylesh
Day 8

Finally reached a cliff, from where we could see - Barrents sea - Arctic Ocean ! Temp - minus 15 degree Celsius

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