Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Riding the Trans-Siberian to Irkutsk---First day 5/29

I made my way from the Godzillas Hostel by Metro to the Yaroslavsky Train station for my 1:05 PM train to Irkutsk. The trip will take six days and cover over 3,200 miles in a scheduled 87 1/2 hours with a few stops along the way. It was raining pretty hard in Moscow as I boarded the train so I felt lucky to have had good weather while in Moscow.

I am riding in the 2nd carriage of 15 carriages, right behind the electric engine---good thing they no longer use the steam engines I showed at the beginning of my Russia trip blog. There are three classes of carriages, 1st class has compartments with two beds, 2nd class compartments with two bunk beds, and 3rd class is called platzkart and has 26 bunk beds all in an open area in each carriage. In all of the carriages there are two bathrooms with sink and toilets and at one end of the carriages they have a samovar with continuously hot water for the passengers to use for their instant noodle dishes or beverages. The 10th carriage is the restaurant where I ate all of my meals and was one of the few to do so. Here is a picture of the train at one of the few stops we took along the way where it was sunny and warmer---about 60 degrees.

Here is our carriage attendant taking tickets from passengers boarding the train. During the ride, they continuously clean the aisle ways and bathrooms as well as selling snacks to passengers. On this long train ride there are two that work in shifts.

I am riding in the plazkart carriage and fortunately am on the bottom bunk. I am looking forward to this interesting adventure. This is a picture at the beginning of my trip and you can see a few feet sticking out in the passage way you have to try to dodge.


Here is the samovar that most of the passengers use to prepare their food instead of eating in the restaurant. I traveled from my No. 2 carriage to the No. 10 restaurant carriage and then back to the end of the train where I would take videos and pictures from the back window of the train about three times a day.

Since my bunk bed was on the bottom, I had a storage area for my backpack that was pretty secure under the bunk bed as you can see. The matresses and pillows are rolled up and ready for use. The carriage attendant passes out two sheets, a pillow case and a small towel to use on the journey


None of the passengers in my carriage spoke any English and my Russian was non-existent so hand gestures had to do for now.

At dinner time, I headed back to the restaurant thinking that I may run into some people who spoke English, including other travelers, but I was the only one in the restaurant. For my first meal, I had borscht soup, fried halibut---I did not know you could fry something to make it so hard I had to use a knife to cut it. The soup and vegetables were tasty and the beer was cold.

As the days wore on each carriage took on its own unique odors depending on what people were eating and to what degree of personal hygiene people practiced. I would also meet other passengers who were able to translate for my surrounding carriage passengers which made the ride so much more interesting.


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