Travel Note

12th July 2013

Russia isn't an obvious destination for coaster enthusiasts, as the vast majority of the known credits (around sixty at the time of writing) are scarcely worth the effort for even the most unapologetic CreHo. Be that as it may, I've wanted to visit the home of Tetris and Tchaikovsky for many years, so I decided to join a few other enthusiasts on a long weekend taking in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

St Basils

Foreign visitors to Russia require a visa, and the paperwork requirements for obtaining one are onerous to say the least. The first step is to acquire a Tourist Invitation and a Travel Voucher. Hotels and travel companies can help with these, but it is probably easier to get them on the Internet through a company like Real Russia. Next, one needs to fill out and print an online Visa Form, and some of the questions asked are extremely detailed; Americans, for example, are required to list every country they have visited in the previous decade with dates. Once the form is complete, some nationalities can bring a printout to their nearest embassy, while others are required to send their documents to a processing company that adds a hefty administration fee; Megan had to pay a little over three hundred dollars for hers.

Independent travellers should be aware that the vast majority of signage in Russia is printed in cyrillic lettering only without transliterations, and this includes the Metro system in Moscow. This strange alphabet is readable by foreigners with a little patience, but it does take quite a bit of getting used to as several of the Roman characters (such as B, C, H, and P) have different sounds to those found in English.



12th July 2013

The Filion Mall is a large shopping mall located in north-west Moscow, the capital city of Russia, approximately ten minutes walk from Bagrationovskaya metro station. Those attempting to repeat this trip should note that trains on the light-blue subway line branch in two different directions, making it very easy to end up in the wrong place. We did!

Happylon is a large family entertainment centre on the top floor of the mall with a good set of rides, including a carousel, dodgems, a drop tower, a miami, and a wave swinger. Pride of place is taken by Babylon (#1931), a custom roller coaster from Vekoma with a layout consisting of several helices. The ride proved surprisingly forceful, maintaining its sense of speed all the way to the brake run. Megan was particularly enthusiastic to claim credit number five hundred in the country that gave the world Russian Mountains.


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