First Night on the Trans-Siberian

"Rossiya" passengers stretch their legs and watch another train board at Vladimir.

The Rossiya leaves Moscow a few minutes before midnight, and though it’s been a long day, I want to stay up until the first stop at Vladimir. I’ve brought a lot of food with me, but I forgot to bring any bottled water. There was no reason for me to do so – I knew that the the train had a samovar where I could get hot water. I figured I’ll fill up my thermos tonight, leave the cap off, and have cool water in the morning.

First stop: Vladimir

My first encounter with the samovar ends in disaster. It’s a complicated looking apparatus, and I first try testing it by pouring some hot water into the cup that makes up the lid of my thermos. This test is a success. When I subsequently finish filling up my thermos proper, I absentmindedly replace the cap, dumping the still-steaming water on my hand. Result: hand burned slightly, but not nearly as much as my ears are  as my mishap did not go unnoticed by a few occupants of my wagon.

It wasn’t until the next day that I found another valve on the samovar that dispensed clean cool water.

Samovar, my old nemesis

The restaurant car is modern and clean but not particularly popular. Warned that the meal options on board might be limited, I’ve stocked up on food in Moscow – a lot of cured meats, some fruit, and some unhealthy snacks. There’s no fridge; you just have to store your food in your compartment somewhere. Chocolate is a bad idea as the train gets way too warm at the long stops, at least in the summer.


Shopping at the first stop. More detailed on Flickr, just click it.

Life on the Rossiya is surprisingly comfortable. As one of the flagship Russian train routes, the cars are modern. That means a TV screen and a power outlet in every carriage. Unfortunately the TV only plays a DVD picked by the provodnitsa, so I’m subjected to a Russian-produced WWII drama that follows a squad of Russians on a mission into Germany territory.  Aleks, who rarely moves from his top bunk on his day and a half ride to Perm, is thoroughly engrossed in the show. War movies are pretty easy to follow in any language, or so I think. What had seemed for hours to be a fairly historically accurate account of the WWII era ends with the Soviet squad storming Hitler’s bunker and unceremoniously dispatching der Führer with a quick burst from a machine gun.

Aleks’ wife Yulia speaks just a little bit of English, but it seems like I’m headed for 4 days of catching up on my reading. But as I walk down the corridor, I hear accented English coming from the compartment next to mine.



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