10. At the End of the Rails: A Train Buff’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

10. At the End of the Rails

On Saturday June 24th, finally Rossiya, train# 002, the superfast express train, pulled into Vladivostok train station exactly at 7am, local time, or give or take 23:45 Friday night Moscow time. All along the 7 night, 6 full days travel (144 hours), the train was running on Moscow time. Our carriage had an electronic board on both sides of the carriage number, and Moscow time only. No local time is visible of train or train station platforms. Even platforms go by Moscow time. Since it changes to 7 time zones, after leaving Moscow to Vladivostok, the time on all long distance trains within Russia, maintain Moscow arrival and departure time.

I spent about 90 minutes packing my two bags on Friday afternoon. By Friday dinner time, I was already packed, went to dinner at the train’s diner, came back and climbed into my upper berth bed, with my black pants, black socks, a shirt hanging on the hanger with my jacket, that’s it. I set my watch alarm to 6am, but, I was up by 5:30am on Saturday. Just went to the toilet, freshen up a little, removed the white bed sheets and pillow case, and give it to the attendant, while she came by to collect it.

The train was on arrival time: 23:45 Moscow time, by the time we got off, it was just about 7am, Saturday, local time in Vladivostok. As we stepped down the last step of the train, I said to the attendant: “Dasvidanya” (goodbye). She responded “Dasvidanya”, with a smile!

 

 

Dasvidanya Rossiya 002!

 

 

 

 

 It was quite an adventurous train journey. I enjoyed it very well. Never crossed my mind to get it over quickly. I was enjoying every minute of it. Sure there were few hick-ups in the 7 nights, 6 days journey, but they were manageable. There were few foreigners on this train.  Its one of those bucket list item that I wanted to accomplish, and in the planning and research stages for the past 7 years or so. I had to make it happen with finances, planning and a ton of moral support and encouragement from Denise.

 

 

 

 Hello Canadian? It will be Denise and I on this one, perhaps next year?  Look up “The Canadian” on internet, you will get the gist of it!

 

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9. Sometimes the Musical Chairs of Riders Coming and Goings: A Train Buff’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

9. Sometimes the Musical Chairs of Riders Coming and Goings

On Friday June 23rd late morning, Vladimir got off and a new passenger in the afternoon came in, A Russian, named Victor didn’t speak any English – he was just traveling to Habrov, a large city in the far East. He and I were exchanging words from Google translate. A friendly man in his forty’s. I went and tried out some luncheon cuisine at the train diner. Many thin tall trees (birch), and grasslands, were  very green. Also could see a two lane highway, only with couple of cars going eastward towards Habrov. Not many drivers on the highway, very sparse. Victor got off the train before 8pm.

Two young men in their early 30’s boarded the train at 8pm to go short distance, about 8 hours to just to sleep and get off by 4am on Saturday morning. Sergey and Alex spoke very little English, and they were quite. I took a lot of sunset pictures. The clouds were cleared, and the sunset was very orange looking, taking the pictures while the train was moving between 80 to 100km/h speed. All through the route of about 5,700 miles, the train system of Trans-Siberian is electric power-driven. Every 100 to 200 feet, power poles.

 

 

Most of the pictures I took, have power poles, which support the electric power lines for the locomotive engine. I kept experimenting with new cuisine for lunch and dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

8. Getting Cash Presents Challenges: A Train Buff’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

8.  Getting Cash Presents Challenges

On Wednesday morning June 21st, 7am local time, got my ATM cash at Irkutsk. Was early to get cash. One of my debit card from US was not accepted with the pass code at the train’s dining car, but did accept the pass code at the ATM machine. 2 passengers we met got off in Irkutsk. There were no food vendors in Irkutsk. All my bananas gone.

 

 Took several pictures of Lake Baikal. Most passengers on the train got off in Irkutsk.  The train ride is very choppy, will continue to write tomorrow morning. The train slowed down a little bit. The train electric poles was a hindrance while taking pictures. Lots of pictures of hills and trees, farm homes. Lot of them rickety ones.

 Had chicken and vegetable soup for lunch. Michael and I joined to have lunch. Had eaten dinner, and had chicken, vegetables and potatoes. Michael and I ate at the same table for dinner. Again took several pictures after dinner. Stayed in touch texting Denise , and a text to my sons Steve and Dave. Waiting for a larger station to arrive, so that I can buy some bananas.

On Thursday June 22nd evening, a new passenger boarded the train. He is Vladimir. Working as an Engineer with Russian railway. Young fellow and inquisitive, spoke very little English. He said his sister goes to college in Miami. Michael and I took picture with him.

 

First time I had baked cod for dinner with cucumber and tomato at the diner. I’ll rate the dinner as average, and it cost 450 Roubles, plus I tipped 50 Roubles.  As the train is moving, lots of grasslands and trees, and small huts with tarp and wooden frames. Took several pictures of sunset to the west. Daylight through 10:30pm.

 

 

 

 

 Passed through couple of rivers. Also bought two large bottles of water for couple days. I am enjoying the train travel.

 

 

7. Too Much Daylight in Siberia: A Train Buff’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

7. Too Much Daylight in Siberia

My body clock has changed, due to time difference with    Moscow time on the train and local weather and day light.  I was not eating plenty of vegetables. Taking vitamins, Pycnogenol and Psyllium on a regular basis. Taking the pill for cholesterol at nights, as regular as possible. It’s about 5pm Moscow time or 9pm through Siberia, it looks like 9pm or even 8pm in this vast Siberia, with green trees and farms. Moscow time on train is 100% consistent, and throwing many travelers off base. The best time to use the bathroom is around 6am Moscow time. Many are still sleeping, but very bright day with sun light through Siberia. The night is very short, more like 3 hours. I’ll cover my eyes with eye covers tonight, so that I can sleep for longer hours.

 Been listening to Mariachi music on my CD the last couple nights before sleeping. Also listened to a Russian folk instrument pop music, before falling asleep. Russian pop is on my cell phone, recorded from YouTube back home. The restaurant train car meals are fine, and have many choices. Russians eat too much pork and beef, very little chicken. Also Salmon is there, but does not look baked, it is smoked. It will be interesting to see, what the next two travelers will be like, after those two Michael and Vladimir get off in Irkutsk. So far, the train ran smoothly, no problems.

6. 2nd and 3rd Day Plenty of Trees, Farm Homes: A Train Buff’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

6.  2nd and 3rd Day Plenty of Trees, Farm Homes and Eat on the Diner Car

On Monday June 19th, during the day passing by, plenty of thin trees and few rivers. The farm community homes are smaller, and rickety, with wood and tin covering. Train is moving at a fast pace, maybe 65km per hour? Or 70km/hr or even higher? I tried to text Denise at three smaller cities, including Ohms, but service is not available. Sent a couple of words on Michael’s phone via Facebook to Denise, saying all is well and riding well. I’ll try again in 3 hours to see if I can send a text to her. I took several pictures in the morning and in the afternoon, mostly trees, open spaces and the sky with some clouds.

 On Tuesday June 20th, traveled through low mountains, trees, old tiny rickety homes. Mostly farm homes. Also, got to see old style Soviet apartment buildings. Lots of trees, along the way. Two of our cabin passengers getting off in Irkutsk, half way point to Vladivostok. They get off at 2am Moscow time, but Irkutsk is at 7am.

Met a fellow traveler in dining car, and he is from Belgium, another train nut, he appeared to be about 30. He is traveling through Russia, and SE Asia and New Zealand. He spoke good English. While in the dining car, I got Eggs were sunny side up. I tried to use my debit card in the dining car, But did not take the pass code, which is correct. used cash to pay for the eggs.

 

 

 

 Today used my “No Rinse” shampoo for my hair, after 3 days . Worked fine.  None of the carriage car attendants speak English. Occasionally using google translator with the attendants. Stocked up with bakery for breakfast for next three days. I’ll use the ATM at Irkutsk station, to get some cash. Shared wife and grandkids pictures with the German and Russian travelers in my cabin. German traveler spoke manageable English, an army man. He helped me and Michael to translate from English to Russian with the cabin train attendant. Google translator is a god send.

 

5. First Full Day on the Train: A Train Buffs’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

5.  First Full Day on the Train

Woke up Sunday morning Moscow time, and looked outside. All long distance trains and train stations in Russia are on Moscow time, regardless of the time zones in various regions. During the day on Sunday, June 18th, the train went through hundreds of miles lined with greenery trees, most of them  birch and other trees, and farm lands. Lots of small houses, and very few train stops, because this train is the fastest train, called Rossiya, and stops at 25 or less stations between Moscow and Vladivostok. The weather changed from sunny to few showers, and sunny again.

The train the first day traveled through Ural regions and few rivers. Also the weather is slightly cooler, but comfortable. Passengers are friendly. Two other cabin mates in our cabin, is one Russian man (Vladimir), and the other a German who spoke fluent Russian (Michael). Both were very helpful and courteous, and spoke Russian with the train attendants, and the Michael the German, translated into English. None of the train attendants or servers in the diner spoke English. I was ready with my Google translator, if it was required or necessary. All four of us had breakfast together at the trains diner (restaurant) and shared conversation.

The other two cabin travelers are going to Irkutsk, a 4 night journey. They are very good cabin members. In the afternoon around 3pm, I bought two more large water bottles at the station. Now I’ve enough bottled water for 3 days. I’ve enough provisions for at least 3 days or even more. Maybe in Irkutsk, I’ll buy more provisions for the remaining 3 nights. So far on the first day the journey on the train has been very comfortable and very little stress. The train attendants (women) also sell coffee, bakery, puzzles, to raise revenue for the train system. The attendants stand outside the carriage steps every time the train pulls into the station, and they stand there until the train leaves. Kind of precision work.

By 8pm, the train covered 1436km to Perm II, from Moscow. There is a list of complete train stops and the time, in the walkway for the passengers to read.

3. Preparation to Get on Trans-Siberian Train – Rossiya 002: A Train Buff’s Russian Trans-Siberian Adventure

3.  Preparation to Get on Trans-Siberian Train – Rossiya 002

Couple years after my long distance Indian train travel in 2008, I read about Trans-Siberian train in Russia, a 7 day travel, in travel books from Moscow to Vladivostok. That got me interested. I love the scenery with green trees and lake Baikal in Siberia, peace and quietness, culture and travelers, lengthy time, dining car, train motion, long distance and plain curiosity.

First the experience at Yaroslavsky train station in Moscow on June 17, 2017, Saturday evening. Me and my travel partner (Michael) got to the station at 8:30pm, very early arrival to the station. Our train number 002, Rossiya fast express train,  did not leave until 11:45pm. Earlier in the evening, a cab pulled in front of us, and two women passengers were leaving out of the cab. We hailed at the cab. After some discussion, the Russian young driver, looked like he was in late 20’s, friendly and helpful, decided to take us to train station. We wanted to pay up to 350 Roubles, based on my research on guide on Google cab ride. He was speaking in Russian, and we both were talking in English with him. Very funny!

 I took my cell phone out and turned on Google Translate from English to Russian for basic conversation for the ride and fare. The young driver said, it may be around 350 to 400 Roubles. We agreed and told him to take us to train station. The traffic was not too bad, because it is Saturday evening. We made sure the driver took us to the right station and stay within the price we agreed. It took him about 25 minutes to get to the station.  The fare came up to 450 Roubles. We didn’t mind paying the 450 Roubles, because I paid 250 Roubles as my share. The 7km ride was a much better experience than the nightmare we had with another cab driver, when we arrived at the Red Square, where our apartment was about half a mile from it.

Our experience the day we reached the Red Square Tuesday evening was rainy, overcast and walking around with our bags to find out exactly where our apartment was located. Google Map was no help. when the cab driver approached us, he shown us the charges. 100 Roubles for one KM and 100 Roubles for each minute. Very expensive ride for a half mile and some streets were congested, and we ended up paying 1,500 Roubles, a rip off.