Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
224Trip End Ongoing
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During the night our cabin companion, Alexander, had gone AWOL, returning at around lunchtime to cut up a dead fish on our shared table. He ate this with glee and kept a conversation going with Rick the entire time. Rick had no idea what he was saying and Megan, faking she was asleep, was no help. We then realised he'd been drinking a heap of vodka with the Army Coast Guard guys from the other end of the carriage
Into the evening, just as we were about to tuck into the travelers staple, cup-o-noodles, there was a knock on our door. In came the paralytic Alexander and his six Army Coast Guard buddies. One of them, Victor, could speak a little bit of English so we found out they were on their way to Moscow, then onto the Black Sea for a training course. He then gave Rick a cool lighter pen and Megan was given a sailors striped singlet, just like the ones you see Russian sailors wearing in the movies. We didn't have much to give them, but scrounged up some Australian coins and a few Australian flag stickers. They stayed for a few hours chatting away about all kinds of things, showing us photos of home and their girlfriends etc. Overall they were really friendly fun guys.
Arriving a Yekaterinberg we grabbed a taxi to Bolshoi Ural Hotel. When we asked the lady behind the desk whether our onward train tickets had been delivered she gave us one of those "And do I give a sh_t" looks and shook her head. We figured this was going to be typical Soviet service. Getting the ancient and somewhat dangerous lift (the doors kept slamming shut and didn't stop) up to our floor where we woke up the "Lady with the keys"