Edit Blog Post
Published: September 4th 2011
A curious thing about Russia is the queue culture at the train station. When I tried to buy my ticket alone I could not figure out how to do as some people seemed like they were standing in line while others were standing about the whole place. Luckily Sasha was not the kind of host who would let me do things by my own record.
When arriving to a ticket queue the first thing to do is to shout out ‘kto paslednij’ (who is last?) and then wait until someone makes themselves noticed. Then you closely follow this person until he or her has his turn. That means you’re next. Who needs queue numbers now, huh?
The fare to St. Petersburg costs 50 euro and getting my bike on there was free. This is very cheap compared to Denmark, where this amount of money would only transport me a bit, perhaps long enough to not being able to see the city anymore. But my old home town (that’s right, I lived in St. Petersburg) is 1500 kilometers from Murmansk, so haggling for the price was not crossing my mind. I also asked if I should pay to have my
bike in a special luggage compartment, but the vendor would hear nothing of it and demanded me to carry it on the train. Very well.
I was bit nervous about getting my bike on the train, because who knows, maybe the conductor would not have the same idea as the vendor. She looked very insulted when I approached with my bike, but I succeeded in getting my iron horse in the cabin.
Russian trains are all designed for sleeping, because most travels are carried out over several days. 2nd class are four beds in a closed coupe and 3rd class is six beds in an open cabin. As I was going 2nd class the rest of the way to Irkutsk, I decided to try the low-class experience, which is slightly cheaper than the former.
At first I thought that I was going to have six seats to myself, but five minutes before departure everyone arrived and we were fully booked, everyone heading to the end stop, so we might as well get acquainted.
The first two opposite me was not very difficult as they were anarchists and one of them even spoke English. I knew they had been at a seminar, I also came across in Murmansk, so the conversation was easily commenced. The lady bunking below me looked like a circus princess – colorful, charming and trying to hide her real age under a thick layer of make-up. She had been a competition swimmer in her young days and subsequently was one of the few in her days, who could leave the country. To my convenience she was stealing most of the conversation going on in our end of the cabin.
At the other side of the aisle there is the two remaining bunks. Those were occupied by a young mother and her four-year-old son, who could not speak. Needless to say, this string of our company was the major entertainment for the 27 hours we were destined to be together.
When not sleeping, the boy, Diemar (nick for Dmitry), would harass the entire compartment with some extraordinary throat noise. It was impossible to understand what he wanted, and his mother was unsurprisingly marked by this. The way she appeared told the story very well if my guessing is correct. She was in fact beautiful, but her hair was a pile of hay not taken care off, as she probably had not been on a date since Diemar came along, her glasses giving extra speculations to the thought of the spark in her eyes dying slowly while Diemar’s soundtrack was playing every day of her life. Her clothes and her make-up completed the misery, but she was trying to handle her situation in the best way she could.
This was however only a try. She did not even bring some toys for young Diemar and she had to slap him now and then or showing a clutched fist in front of his face to make him understand how she was feeling about his roaming about the cabin. The rest of us tried to help by occupying him with some games or such to get him to smile, which was to some extent successful. But we had no idea what was going on in that speechless boys mind.
When the train arrived in St. Petersburg at noon the following day, the anarchists helped me finding out where I was and off on my bike into one of my old favorite cities.
Tot: 0.407s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 10; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0155s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb