Moscow - Ekaterinburg

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April 27th 2007
Published: August 6th 2007
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Yaroslavsky station is crazy - seems like millions of people streaming on trains, off trains, across platforms with every type of baggage and boxes piled everywhere. Children running around under drunk mens feet, much singing, shouting, fighting, running. Chaos. I love it. We sit ourselves down opposite the departure timetable and in an attempt to blend in (allegedly) Nico buys some bottles of beer and cracks them open while we wait.

Time flies and a general scrambling and baggage-heaving around us announces the arrival of the Rossiya, aka Train 2, aka the 20:25 to Vladivostock. We have treated ourselves with 1st class tickets from Moscow to Ekaterinburg so after quick photoshoot on the platform we pile in to our fab cabin complete with tv, plush furnishings and a lockable door. Bliss. Very exciting times - after all these years of dreaming about it am finally on the Transsiberian Express. Imagine the whole continent rolling under my feet. The whistle sounds, the train starts to rumble, we're off😊

Sleep fantastically well, rocked by steady chugging of the train. Wake up 8 hours from Moscow, coming into the Udmurt Republic. Never even knew it existed but here it is, with clusters of small, brightly painted wooden houses lining the train tracks and breaking up the never-ending parade of birch trees. Can't see the Russia for the trees. Is it only trees the whole way to the Artic ocean, or just a thin strip a couple of trees deep hiding all kinds of exciting stuff on the other side? Haven't a clue - but luckily I love trees so am happy to stare at them, hypnotised, while remembered Russian tales crowd my head. Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Tolstoy, Pasternak, Pushkin. Nico's plaintive hungry yelps wake me and we head for the restaurant wagon (PECTOPAH in cyrillic, and to be referred to as such from now on😊). Pectopah guy not happy with our choice of food so when the food arrives it is a surprising whole cow's tongue for Nico and some - admittedly tasty - carrots for me. He also helpfully turns up the music to just below glass-shattering level and we bop our heads in time to the fun russian technopop and smile like we love it so he turns it back down again to spite us. Suitably chastened, we slink off back to our cabin, lock the door and crack open the laughing cow. Nico has his first encounter with the samovar - hot water on tap! Hurray! I get lost in Doctor Zhivago, who is also taking a train to Siberia....

Arrive at Ekaterinburg just after 1am in a warm and cosy daze. No time to worry about how things are going to work out staying with Evgeny - after all we have never met him before and only swapped a couple of emails - because he is there on the platform, as promised, and we follow him sleepily to his car. Nico's first ever footsteps in Asia...

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