All aboard

Stopover in Barabinsk.

Stopover in Barabinsk.

The No. 2 Rossiya Train leaves Moscow every other day just after 11 PM. Seven days later, it rolls into Vladivostok, Russia’s main port on the Pacific Ocean. I am not going that far, but I still have 74 hours to fill aboard the train. I’ll pass through 5 time zones; my Sunday departure will put me into Irkutsk around 8am Thursday morning.

This is the only part of the trip I have really planned in advance. The No. 2 is a popular train, and I was worried that tickets would sell out before I got to Moscow a few days prior, so I booked my ticket online. I seriously recommend doing so, if for no other reason than I seemed to have to deal with a lot less paperwork than folks who had a paper ticket (I’d have paper tickets for the next two long-distance trains).

Yaroslavl Station in Moscow is not particularly remarkable. It sits in an area of town that has at least 3 major rail terminals in close proximity to each other…and not much else, except one of Stalin’s Seven Sister skyscrapers, now a decidedly non-Communist Hilton. My extensive travels for work in the preceding months happened to leave me with a stockpile of Hilton Honors points which I used to book a few nights here before heading across Siberia.

Checking my watch outside Yaroslavl Station in a clearly staged photo taken by Shannon

I say goodbye to Shannon and, after the provodnitsa checks my confirmation number, I climb on board.

I’m the first one in my compartment, which is kupe, or second class. That means four people to a cabin. First class is called spalny vagon or SV; compartments are the same size as the kupe compartment, but with only 2 beds. There’s also platskart, which is open bunks without compartments. (I walked through the platskart carriage on day 2. It’s…dicey. Unless you are remarkably comfortable with a lack of privacy for 4 days, I do not recommend the platskart carriage.)

First to arrive - I don't get to pick my bunk though.

I’m not alone for long. A family of three – mom, dad, and their daughter of about 6 –  joins my compartment. Aleks, the father, wastes no time removing his shirt. I can’t blame him – the train is uncomfortably hot when it’s sitting at the station. I’d put him at about 35, with a significant beer belly. Aside from shaking my hand when I introduce myself, he seems to take little interest in me.

Be early for your train – the train pulled out of the station five minutes early, by my watch. In 13 days I am scheduled to meet up with my friend Scott in Beijing. Until then I am on my own.


This entry was posted in moscow to shanghai, travel. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.