From Moscow we made a short, two-day side trip to Rostov Veliky. This town is part of the Golden Ring of historic towns around Moscow. We chose Rostov because it's one of the most unknown towns of the Ring. Once an important town in tsarist Russia, nowadays it's only a small, run-down place with wooden houses scattered around a large area. The only difference with many other Russian towns are the various monuments like the fabulous Kremlin and a nice old monastary

Arriving in Rostov was almost a shocking experience for us. While Moscow was much more modern than we expected, the commuter train to Rostov took us back in time. This was much more like the Russia we expected: poor and run-down. The contrast with Moscow couldn't be bigger.