Couch Surfing

Previous page - Meeting Kevin and Alla changes our plans


The Couch Surfing Philosophy

We had a look around the Couch Surfing website and virtually immediately decided to join. This is the CS philosophy:

"As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to make the world a better place, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal. Couch Surfing isn't about the furniture- it's not just about finding free accommodations around the world - it's about participating in creating a better world. We strive to make a better world by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. Couch Surfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!"

Within a week of joining the group we had our first visitors, a lovely couple from Hong Kong. The next week we hosted a delightful girl from Taiwan.

We are now searching through the Couch Surfing website ourselves to find people who will help us on our travels through Russia. We have "met" Yulia from Vladivostok and this lovely lady is willing to collect us from Vladivostok airport and take us to our accommodation. She is also willing to give us a tour of the city. We are waiting on another Couch Surfer to get back to us regarding a couple of nights accommodation at her place in Vladivostok. You can imagine how valuable these generous people will be to us on our holiday.

Couch Surfing has to be a two-way thing. You can only take if you are prepared to give. Each of us can give differently, whether it be collection from a station, a friendly chat over a coffee or a couple of nights accommodation. The reward is in the cultural learning and the wonderful friendships that evolve from belonging to the group. We have delighted in hosting people in our home. So far the exercise has been totally rewarding. There are guards within the system so we each know the background of those we encounter. You only go as far as you are comfortable within the scheme.

We strongly recommend you investigate Couch Surfing or other similar groups. We wished we had known about the scheme years ago.


Flying in to Vladivostok

It seems the best way we can fly into Vladivostok to start our train journey is with Korean Air who have an office in Sydney. There is a Russian airline called Vladivostok Air but they don't have an office in Australia so that makes things somewhat complicated to organise. I've spoken to a Korean Air advisor this morning who was very helpful indeed.

We will now endeavour to use our Qantas Frequent Flyer points to get us to Seoul in Korea and then get a paid flight from Seoul to Vladivostok in Russia. Qantas themselves don't fly from Perth to Seoul but their partner airlines do so we can use them for no charge instead.

Korean Air have flights two to three times a week from Seoul to Vladivostok. The flights go on varying days each week and it is too soon for the clerk to know what the timetable will be for next May. He has taken our phone number and he promises to phone us in a few weeks when the timetable and latest prices are available. Next job is to ring Qantas to find out how soon we can book our flights to ensure we can use our Frequent Flyer points to our maximum advantage.


Next page - Learning to speak Russian


Our trip in the order it happened:

Travel Planning Necessities
World time zones, world weather, currency converter, language translator services.

Search over 25,000 hostels.

Trip Advisor Forum - Russia
The place to find information about Russia when you can't find it elsewhere.

Way To Russia
Another very good forum

Getting A Russian Visa
The process is explained

Trains between Moscow & Saint Petersburg
Explanation of the types of trains on that route.

Firmenny Trains
An explanation of what they are.

Moscow's Railway Stations
A map of their locations and proximities.

Learn How To Speak Russian
Free lessons.

Map of St. Petersburg
Lonely Planet's map of the city.

Map of Moscow
Lonely Planet's map of the city.

Moscow Times Newspaper
English version.

The Russia Club
A forum for all those interested in anything "Russian".

Russian Rail Timetable
It takes a bit of mastering but Ian managed it (eventually).

The Art Of Travel
Very interesting travel information for all locations.