Published: October 18th 2008October 18th 2008
Km travelled 9772
I'm sitting here writing on my small notebook that Sara bought for me when she came to visit in London, and Michael is on his laptop working on Semaphore video. We're on the train to Irkutsk. Ours is only a short 2 days/2 nights trip on a train that is going from Moscow to Khabarovsk.
We share the cabin with Piotr and Irina, a nice couple almost our parents' age, that is going to Novosibirsk, so we will do half the way with them. Like most of the times we had a bit of hard time this morning at the station. Our train wasn't showing on the table, only at the third counter we found little help, and finally a random man who could speak some English helped us and told us just to wait in front of the display fro the train to come. We trusted him and he was right. Most of the trains were running quite late and ours as well. I guess they're such long journeys that is easy to get delayed. I don't think I ever mentioned it before but all trains in Russia run on Moscow time despite
the 6 time zones in the country. And clock at train stations always show Moscow time.
This train seems a lot faster than the others we travelled on until now, and the service is excellent. We couldn't expect it! We've been already served a meal and given toothbrush and comb, plus a box with all sort of seasoning and hot drinks. It looks amazing while we start to cross the Siberia! Since we started to cross Russia I realized how much I'm in love with the silver birch, now definitely in my top ten trees! The land is so flat that the trees behind the fields seems like they've been cut with a blade. We stop in Tyunmen, it's 6.00 pm, time for a coffee and a snack. Irina offers us apples from their trees and I fill in the flask from the samovar. Life on the train is very relaxing. Plus outside is raining and getting dark so add that cosy feeling to it. Irina has been so nice to take two mugs for us, beautiful glasses in metal supports all decorated. I ran out of pages on Sara's book so I started a new one that mum bought
for me when they came to visit in London last spring. A beautiful small blue book with with dots on the cover. Outside the window is all dark.
This morning didn't have the best of the starts. The carriage attendant woke me up when we were getting close to Novosibirsk because I had to move to the bed up. Irina has been so nice to help me moving everything up as I was still half asleep. Unfortunately her and Piotr finished their journey and got off at Novosibirsk. A lady that at first didn't look nice at all came in, and then a man probably in his forties that looked quite shy. They're both fine but we have this feeling of confinement, like if we can only stay in the upper beds or in the corridor. The lady speaks some English, which is good, she was wearing the uniform when she arrived so I guess she's a military officer. She had a chat with Michael that as you all know would talk even to a carpet!
Since yesterday we already moved two hours forward and tomorrow will be another one. Russian music from the radio give us
company for the trip. Italian music seems to be popular here in Russia as well, and in fact I have a note for all my Italian friends. Toto Cutugno will play in few days in Yekaterinenburg that was covered with posters of him, plus still in Yekaterinenburg I've seen a guy with a T-shirt with the mark “Marco Masini fashion”! No comment.
Life on the train is very quiet. Every day in the morning the carriage attendant is very busy. She goes up and down the carriage for all her duties. She brings new linen, newspapers, breakfast boxes. Then she cleans the carriage, she hoovers the corridor and the compartments. Another lady brings salad portions and a hot meal with peas, meshed potatoes and meat cooked with onions. Not much happens in the afternoon apart from the few people that get on the train to sell all sorts of things. Mainly food, like beans or seeds, but also books, wool, telephones. The time passes by quickly, I thought it would have been more boring. Michael is tied to his laptop most of the time, but is an addiction he's always had at least since I've known him.
It's 7.30 pm
and the dark has fallen again. We've been staring at the window talking until we could see something outside. The landscape is not exactly various anyway. Igor told us when we booked the train tickets in Moscow. “Why do you want to travel by train in Russia?! It's not like Europe! It's boring, forest, forest, forest, fields, fields, fields, forest, forest, forest, fields, fields, fields”. He was right. Now I understand that travelling on the Transiberian without stopping is only for Russian.
I think I know what I like of the silver birches now, their branches are so thin that it looks like they got hair.
We finished our small sandwiches cheese, prosciutto, rocket and gherkins. Shame. I really enjoyed them. I also finished my book so will have to start a new one tonight. We're getting close to Krasnoyarsk. Almost half way between Moscow and Beijing.
Soft rays of sunlight come through the window. There's no more mud and hills started pushing up the yellow rug of fields. We should be soon into the Irkutsk oblast. Sun is shining now that we stop in Zima. this should be the last main stop before Irkutsk. The routine
is always the same, I guess now we can't wait to arrive.
There are more photos below