The Last two weeks in Tyumen flew by in a blur of visiting the sights we had yet to see and saying our goodbyes. By the end, as ready as we were to go home, we were actually sad to leave. Especially Charlie…

Early morning wander Tobolsk

I spent the break from Russia… Eating to be honest. Returning for Christmas and then popping to France for a couple of weeks was the perfect way to gain some much-needed weight. After hundreds of Tartiflettes, Raclettes and Croutes before I knew it I was back in the Motherland. This time Charlie and I will be in Moscow for a few months. Thats right, only me and Charlie. Maybe it was after the ‘Banya incident’ or simply Tyumeny crazy things happened whist we were together but Iona and Rob will not be joining us here. They decided to take the soft, easy option of St. Petersburg whilst Charlie and I forge on in our intrepid Russian misadventure.

Before we arrived the only thing Charlie and I had to do was find an apartment to live in, and we had decided that we needed to do this about 4 months ago. Needless to say, we failed miserably. The cost of living in Moscow is widely regarded as the most expensive in the world. To give an example: A 1-bedroom apartment that was suggested for the both of us would have cost £900 a month. Each. Furthermore, it looked like a convent and was located so far from the centre that I reckon it would have been easier to get to St. Petersburg than Moscow each morning.

Until we find an apartment we are staying in the ‘Basilica Hostel’ in a very cosy twin bed room. It’s a 40 minute walk to work every morning, although it means I can enjoy the relative warmth of -8 here! In the hostel, the receptionist thinks I am gay, and Charlie hasn’t even arrived yet (he gets here tomorrow). When asked who will be sharing my room I bumbled my way through some slightly rusty Russian explaining that it was my friend from England. This attempt was met with very raised eyebrows and a classic Russian disapproving stare. Ah well, doing my bit for gay-rights in Russia.

Having semi-decent access to the centre of Moscow is actually quite important for our first couple of months as we are both working. Well, working for no money. Charlie is working at Cushman and Wakefield, a real-estate company, and I am working for Allen and Overy, a law-firm. I started my first day yesterday at 9am and didn’t leave the office till 6.30pm; quite a shock for someone who only got up before 10am during the Winter Break to ski some powder, and even that was a challenge. The work itself was translating and generally helping out, amazingly I haven’t been ask to make coffee or photocopy yet.

St. Basils

Despite my new working life the same ‘challenges’ for my Year abroad remain:

-Become fluent at Russian.

-Get a Russian girlfriend (to help with the above obviously.)

-Get a ‘manly amount’ of chest hair.

Over the course of the next 3 and a bit months I will try to update my progress on those three challenges, as well as anything else vaguely strange/cool/crazy happens of course.