Once Around The Sun

The first Trans-Siberian experience


Our first journey to Yekaterinburg on this famous railway started in Moscow’s Yaroslavov Train Terminal 35 minutes after midnight on 24.August. The tickets (which by the way we’ve ordered online through Real Russia, just in case you wondered how to get one) stated carriage 4, seat 17 and 18 on train number 100, heading to Vladivostok.

I’ve probably never seen a longer passenger train in my life. It felt like ages while we have walked past carriages 16… ..15…14.. ..13…… …. …5….and finally… ..4! After our ‘Bilietka’ (read Stewardess) checked our passports against her list and the tickets we were allowed through into the carriage. First impressions? Looks great and it barely stinks… Looks great in a sense that it reminded me of my childhood. These trains are definitely older than me and the stink you’ll get used to after a while. Our 2nd class sleeping cabin is no luxury, but absolutely a positive experience. Few minutes later, Dmitry the Bear hunter joined us. With the little English he spoke and little Russian we understood, he informed me and Majka that his only luggage he’s carrying holds a hunting rifle (other than that he had bar of KitKat and a bottle of Activia). I’ve had few flashbacks from Texas Chain Massacre and Hostel…, but it turns out Dmitry is a cool guy.

Our train started moving at exactly 00:35. Soon our Bilietka was passing by giving out bed sheets and towels. Shortly after we all prepared our bunks and agreed on calling it a day. That is right after Dmitry informed me that he snores and I should just give him a nudge if he starts, 'it will be OK'… He wasn’t kidding. After a short prayer he was ready to sleep. He slept deep and loud! I wished that I had packed my earplugs handy, but it was too late. Lesson learned.

The train stops every hour or two for just a couple of minutes, but every now and then, the stops are longer, around 15-30 minutes. This break gives you time to seek out vendors on the platform, passionately trying to sell berries, sandwiches, vegetables… No beers, no Vodka! I’m starting to think that I got us lost again and this is different Russia. Definitely different to the one I was expecting. Before I forget, if you’re travelling at night as we did, get your booze before 23:00, as after this time you’ll not get any to go. Not that everyone drinks on the train anyway, but would have been cool to have a shot of Vodka on Trans-Siberian. Definitely will be justifying this on the second leg of our train journey...

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