3 on a train
16th Aug 2012
Train journey Irkutsk to Moscow
Trudi...Picked up by Sergei and Eugene by bus Monday morning for the drive back to Irkutsk a huge difference from the day on Sunday as the weather had chilled down and the hoards had disappeared. Our accom was a Baikal chalet up a short road bordered by close wooden, carved and coloured shuttered houses that looked unoccupied but the bark from the numerous dogs in each yard assured us that there was someone home! The chalet was made fully of wooden logs and we were on the 3 rd floor with showers which have become not the norm.Run by a lovely lady Ludmilla and her family , we were beautifully fed with mashed potatoes absolutely full of butter...Mmm .
Mary-Anne - day three
The size of the rail network is massive and you realize the importance of it as the major transport
system. Every 10 minutes or so another train passes in the other direction, mainly freight, Trudi counted 96 wagons yesterday. From what we can see lots of coal, timber, heavy machinery, vehicles and oil being hauled across country. Of the passenger network our train being from Vladivostok to Moscow is No: 1, named Russia, and there are about 8-10 of them going east and west across the country. Apparently there are over 900 train routes so that's a lot of trains. Train stations are extensive and some have beautiful buildings. At our scheduled stops there are mini-shops on the platforms where you can buy drinks, chips, etc. We always get out and stretch our legs but hurry back on board in plenty of time as trains in Russia always run to time!
Getting friendly with the staff in the dining car as they have been helpful with the menus and encourage our attempts at Russian. Last night we gave them some chocolates so they gave us some sweets. Food not too bad but Bruce's order of roast of the day came back as a hotpot of potatoes a few vege and some gristle.
Last night we had a fun evening there as Stu organized a quizz evening for us. Split into 2 teams it was the 3 Kiwis versus the rest of the world being Richard and Marie and Alec and Keela. There were categories of general questions as well as 'trip' questions. Unfortunately our team lost - by a small margin.
Our Providnitsa (carriage attendant) has become a bit of a disappointment in that she is not keeping the toilets clean or restocked very well. She looks good in her uniform of blue skirt, white shirt and high heels, along with the heavy eye makeup and does make attempts at English. I learnt that she lives 180kms south of Moscow and has a 96kg Rottweiler! Then there is another rather sweet lady with red hair who pushes a cart along the corridors every few hours selling drinks and snacks such as blinis, sandwiches, piroshkis and dumplings.
Crossed from Siberia into Russia late yesterday and are through the Urals so into Europe. Landscape still predominately silver birch forests and small villages. Get into Moscow about 6 this evening.
At irkutsk it was pretty chilly so rain jackets on for the first time,...lucky eh.? Then to a great little cafe with really attentive staff who were most helpful to the Russian illiterates, great coffee and some had donuts.. Pretty blue ones with rice bubbles....eek, then onwards thru the streets of Irkutsk to yet another museum, but Bruce and Stu found a shooting gallery outside which ended up with them each winning a small fluffy cow,Stu traded his for a hotel receptionist to watch his bags and Bruce gave his to the drivers daughter..Pretty odd really.
So to waiting for the train and ended up at 'The London Pub' of course for a pint and my first food for a good day and a half maybe..Chips..The waitresses even spoke English . We really aren't doing too badly as the russian people are quite obliging and do try to understand us. Roubles now are another matter as not only had we just got used to Yuan in China and the exchange rate, the Togrog in Mongolia and now I really just don't care..
So onto the train, and what a flash one..and it is number 1 .. Being the best apart from the private ones, so plenty of room really with MA Stu and Bruce and I sharing again, we had been warned to make sure that we were on the good side of our Provodnitsa (our carriage attendant, who clean toilets,vacuums ,keeps samovar hot,sells tea coffee etc) but she is gorgeous, very yellow blonde hair,beautiful blue eyeshadow and liner and lovely high heels.. She is also interested in us and everything that is going on,,...our books, language , and is really helpful with washing the dishes that MA needed doing.. So all the tales must be untrue"!
We ended up with a few beers and the 8 of us squashed into Our cabin lots of laughs,Baileys and the nastiest cheapest Spanish wine we could find. Clocks went back 2 hours as they do tonight again and then tomorrow night 1 hour as Mockba(Moscow) is 5 hours behind Irkutsk and doing it in bites is really quite nice as we can get 5 meals a day in!
So sitting opposite MA while the great movie of Russia flows by the window...huge forests of silver birch smaller than home but probably reflecting the harsh winters...lots of wildflowers,pinks yellows and purples and dirt tracks. Ladas ,mostly white,in various stages of aging parked ibyvegetable garden plots mostly the same size, full of potatoes and a few sunflowers. Wooden houses, many decrepit,many brightly painted and all with some form of decoration on shutters or rooves. Very few cows,horses and dogs and even birds...only crows here..so in two days non stop we will be in Moscow...going too fast. Dammit. Travelled 24 hours and have only gone one inch.. You know what I mean.
|1080 Words | This page has been read 35 times||View Printable Version|