7313 km by train.. (1)

Trip Start Jun 17, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Russia  ,
Monday, July 4, 2005

Three days in a train, followed by 9 hours on a raft, 2 hours of sleep, another 10 hours on that same raft, again a night that was too short, being awoken with the message that our comfortable means of transportation, the hydrofoil, broke down, 4 hours of frantically looking for another solution to continue our journey, 11 hours of time-killing in the most boring town in Siberia followed by another 2 days on the train.. and here I am.. A bit worn down, in a zombie-like state, the looks of someone about to be admitted to a mental institution and a level of communication that suggests total lack of education..

By now we travelled 7313 kilometers to get to Irkutsk, not counting the roughly estimated 500 km that we traveled for our day trips, nor the kilometers that we travelled on the raft.. 128 hours on the train, and we crossed 5 time zones.. I will give you the short story. Here's part 1.

After Moscow we travelled to Suzdal, a two-day trip to a small village with more churches than inhabitants. The views were amazing, the wooden architectures interesting, and the people friendly.

Back to Moscow to at long last get on board of the famous Trans-Siberia Train. I cannot describe the rush I felt when I stepped onto the platform and saw the train, which for me marked the beginning of a long adventure.. The train was exactly as I expected, not too glossy, but clean enough. The views from the train are, to be honest, not too spectacular. Mostly the sight is industrial and impoverished, the many factories that line the railway look as though they will fall apart any moment, as do the houses close to the Trans-Siberian route. Yet, as Otto stated correctly, there lies a beauty in this decay.

Our first stopover was in Perm, where a friendly Russian girl helped us get on the right bus, and even came to help us get a room. We planned this stopover to visit the ice caves in Kungur, which turned out not to have a whole lot of ice.. It did include a 1 1/2 hour lasting tour, though, by a guide who only spoke Russian. Her Jibberish was definitely the most entertaining part of our kick-ass day trip to Kungur, so you can imagine what it must have been like..

Back on the train we met Nicolai. He entertained us by showing how the average Russian travels when three days on a train, namely by drinking beer from the moment he woke up, and offering us vodka's with every bit of food we offered him. No, we did not get drunk with him, which probably was a missed opportunity. After three days of communication on the level of three-year olds Nicolai turned out to be an academic as well!!!
Showering on the train was a cold affair, and quite a challenge with the train rocking sideways, accelerating and decelerating. Pouring 10 cups of cold water over myself did the job though..
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