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Published: October 11th 2010
And how could we EVER forget it??? 87hours, four nights, 5 time zones and 5185km on a 55 year old train that smelt of man sweat and cigarettes!!! lol
We started our journey by getting the metro to the train station, not an easy feat when you have the equivalent of a baby Rhino strapped to your back! But make it we did! The weather was glorious as we said our final farewell to the beautiful city of Moscow.
Once on the train we made our way to our cabin, got settled in and anxiously awaited the arrival of our Russian roomies... Everytime someone passed our door we held our breath and looked at one another uncertain as to whether these were the ones. This thought went through our mind everytime the train stopped to pick up passengers. As it was luck was on our side and not a sole did cross the threshold for the entire journey!
The cabin was small but more than adequate for two. :-D We retrieved our mattreses and pillows from the top bunks and were swiftly supplied with fresh linin. The beds were actually quite comfortable (though mine was slightly bigger than Vicky's....untill
the fourth night when we realised Vicky hadn't pulled her out correctly and had been sleeping on two thirds of her bed)
The train departed and off we went. The grey and industrail post Soviet Moscow drifted by and was soon replaced by the (suprisingly) lush meadows and forests of the countryside. As the train rattled on we watched Russia go by through a number of reoccuring scenes...
The first was the wasted and neglected post communist towns and cities. Ruined factories and tower blocks of grey cement, grey windows and grey rotten framework. Accompanied by the grey people who lived there. At the stations we were greeted by people trying to sell anything from childrens art packs to books and mobile phones!
The next was the rolling forests as far as the eyes could see! A mosaic of colours, rich evergreens interwoven with the burnt reds, dark oranges and vibrant yellows of autumn.
This was frequently broken by random wooden villages nestled within the trees. These maily delapadated wooden shacks with their flacky wood and peeling paint had HUGE satalite dishes usually bigger that their front doors! Every now and then there would be a beautiful
and decorative little house that looked like it was brand new! Almost all of the houses had vegatable patches which for some reason seemed only to grow cabbages and cauliflowers!!! Often the residents would turn up at the train stations with buckets of apples and plums to sell. Even more randomly.... they had dried fish on a hook! (just where they got this fish from is beyond us but the Russians in our carraige seemd to bloody LOVE it!)
The railways were very busy with trains constantly passing in the opposite direction. They were carrying all sorts of cargo, tree trunks, oil tanks, sand, stones, freight carriers and even a carriage full of cars!! All the stations were busy and we saw lots of other passenger trains heading both East and West.
The attendant for our carriage was very friendly and, even though she knew we didn't understand a word of Russian and she not a word of English, she was quite happy to chat away to us. God only knows what she was saying but she always had a smile on her face!
Our days consisted or reading, writing in our journals, playing games and watching
Russia go by the window. After four days of cous-cous, porridge and babywipe 'showers' cabin fever was really starting to set in. This morning we finaly arrived into Irkutsk and were glad to shower, breath fresh air and walk on solid ground. (not to mention do a load of laundry....only one pair of clean pants left each....not sure we could've survived much longer!) xXxXx
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