Welcome to Moscow

By Luke Tilley

We have made it to Russia! From Newark on Tuesday we travelled down to London Kings Cross, across to St Pancreas from where the Euro Star took us to Belgium. In Cologne we enjoyed a busker on a grand piano and then boarded a sleeper to Warsaw. In the heat wave of Warsaw the next day we boarded a decidedly older train that brought us into Moscow on Thursday morning. Phew… what a journey!

It was certainly an experience dealing with Russian officials, getting searched for illegal immigrants, spending several hours in a train workshop having the wheels changed, buying hot roast chicken and potatoes from a ladies handbag and being at a total loss with the local language. It was amazing speeding along through the (very flat) countryside and watching communities change in style and size. You get a brief glimpse of locals lives as they carried on as usual often right next to the tracks as our giant automobile flew past.

The city center was bustling when we arrived and the military were making their presence well felt, choirs of school children sang under statues and armies 100s strong of religious men in eccentric costumes and gold crosses paraded through the streets. Quite surreal!

Luke, Flo and team mate Molly Thompson-Smith

We checked into our hotel “The Cosmos” a colossal affair with a stunning view of rocket buildings, statues and giant memorials. The whole experience was very interesting, familiar and yet foreign, modern and yet very old. The people were however very helpful, several people who knew some English stopped and asked if we need help navigating (we must have stood out as looking hopeless!)

We went to the wall to register and found the wall, constructed especially for this event, somewhat small but steep enough to make it interesting. The routes look good and Flo and myself were lucky enough to watch the demonstrators on the routes making the video for the demonstration the next day.

Looking forward to the competition, the climbing and getting good results. It is nice being here with my sister and Molly, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. We have made good friends with the Norwegians and Belgiums who are also in our hotel. Best of Luck to everyone I hope the weekends climbing goes to the best of everyone’s ability!

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