The train ride began at midnight Saturday night in Moscow and we arrived Wednesday morning in Irkutsk, the biggest city in Siberia. We had a private room with two beds that turned into couches in the daytime. Before boarding the train we stopped at the grocery store to grab some necessities: Scotch, wine, ramen noodles (there is hot water offered in every car round the clock), fruit and Kleenex. On top of that there was plenty to buy on and off the train. We stopped in different towns along the way and each had stores and some even had ladies selling fresh fruits, baked goods and dried fish. There was a restaurant on the train, but we never made it there even though we heard it was pretty good.
Life on a train is kind of comparable to a cruise in that you have nowhere to go. Therefore you sleep and wake as you like, and you don’t feel like you’re missing anything because there is nothing to do or see except what is out the window. It’s a fantastic feeling! There is a guy on shift 24 hours if you need coffee or snacks. He also keeps the train clean and stocks the bathroom with toiletries. The only downfall is there are no showers so bring plenty of baby wipes and maybe even some dry shampoo. Don’t plan on checking your e-mail because there is no wifi. Take a look at 20 seconds of our day inside the train — the entire time looked pretty much the same:
And this is what it looked like outside the train:
We made friends with our neighbors and shared our wine and scotch. In return we got some Russian beer and vodka infused with red peppers and garlic. The vodka was awesome and there are literally chunks of garlic floating in the vodka. Denise and I can never have enough garlic so this was right up our alley. We watched a couple of movies and the last season of “How I Met Your Mother” that we had downloaded before we left. There was time to read, write and strum the guitar. We were sad to get off he train and decided to get back on after visiting Irkutsk for a couple of days.
We are now on the train again, this time heading to Mongolia. This is a shorter ride; it’s only 22 hours, and this train is older. We even have a shower between our car and the next one, although there’s no water pressure and I don’t think Denise or I will be trying it out. We got on board at 6:00am. Denise sleeps less than anyone I know, but it’s 10am here and she is sound asleep. Train life agrees with us both. This last leg of our journey is supposed to be the most scenic route. We just passed Lake Baikal, which we visited yesterday. It’s the world’s deepest lake, 1637 meters, contains nearly one-fifth of the world’s fresh, unfrozen water and is bigger than all of the Great Lakes combined. I’m excited to kick back and enjoy some instant coffee and this beautiful scenery. Another plus: they change restaurant cars with each country, and we just tried this one to see how the Mongolian food is. The meal was awesome. And yes dad you can smoke on the train….