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I just got on the @rzd_official No. 2 train from #moscow to #vladivostok. This #transsiberian route is over 9200km, the longest single train ride in the world. It will take 6 days and change in one direction. THREAD (I’ll add throughout the journey): Image
Tonight we will stop in Vladimir in the night and be in Nizhny Novgorod on the Volga before sunrise. My coupe while not fancy is certainly comfortable. We are passing through the Moscow suburbs. It’s midnight. That’s a full commuter train we just whizzed by. Image
This is my coupe. There is a mini TV (peak Russia) and a plug to charge phones in the hallway. Haven’t dared ask the shower question yet as not all trains have them. The lady in charge of our “wagon” is very nice and will go all the way to Vladivostok (and back!). Shared WCs. Image
P.s I of course asked her name but I don’t want to use it here until I ask if that’s ok with her. I don’t like to share stories unless people are ok with having them shared, which is I suppose why I never became a journalist LOL.
Update! There is a plug in my coupe AND there is a shower on board for $2.30! I cannot express what good news this is (found the advert in the WC and while there is a sink you cannot drink in the water). Image
Woke up to real winter without the flashing lights of Moscow in Nizhegorodskaya oblast. During the night we passed Vladimir and Nizhny and I woke up to see us cross the Volga over a giant rail bridge. Image
I made myself breakfast of oatmeal and Nescafé using the giant samovar at the end of the wagon. The internet works everywhere - WiFi & mobile - other countries only dream of that. We should be in Kirov by lunchtime and Perm after dinner. I’m like an old person talking in meals! Image
Ice fishing on the Vyatka River. Kirov oblast. Image
The head engineer just knocked on my door and asked if everything is ok and how I’m enjoying my trip, reminding me that if I need anything to ask the “girls” (who are both about 50) for assistance. I’m sorry but that is service - and it’s not just for me - he is asking everyone.
Another knock. I bought a postcard for a charity supporting disabled children. The railway itself is selling on behalf of the charity. Ksyusha is 7 and has cerebral palsy. I am normally highly skeptical but I said yes. Micro “direct” charity fundraising is huge in Russia. Image
A brief stop in Kirov, 1000km east of Moscow. I bought my favorite Russian chocolate (вдохновение). The loudspeaker on the platform asked citizens to report themselves if they have fever or are feeling unwell and not to engage in “self treatment”. Eerie. Image
We just jumped a time zone. I lost the first hour of many! I wouldn’t have a clue but luckily my phone adjusted automatically. In an hour we should make a brief stop in Balezino, Udmurtia. For now villages, trees, plains. Image
Balezino was, well, kind of like the name implies. Some cute stray dogs and rather gray. It seems we will jump another hour forward before reaching Perm. I don’t get the impression that our train is busy at all. Same faces smoking during the breaks. Image
Perm is my kind of city! Rises up in the middle of nowhere, filled with dog loving train travelers, proper white snow, huge river Kama. ImageImage
We are now 2 hours ahead of Moscow. I had dinner of blinchiki with red caviar and tea in the (empty) restaurant car. The staff couldn’t be friendlier. Tonight Yekaterinburg around 3am and then Tyumen in the morning... ImageImage
I had a shower somewhere between Perm and Yekaterinburg and it was freaking fabulous. It cost 150 rubles and it was properly hot and water pressure totally fine - I even washed and conditioned my hair. So nice. ImageImage
Slept through Yekaterinburg in the night; woke up in Tyumen. You can tell this is an oil and gas center; new apartments and office towers; it felt to me like Russia’s Oklahoma. Now we are in Asia / Siberia. ImageImageImage
Tyumen oblast is gorgeous: sun, crisp white snow, -13C. ImageImageImage
Brief stop in Ishim. The train next to us is the “Kuzbas” Moscow - Kemerovo, coal country. The men came out in shorts, slides and jackets to smoke. The dogs got a quick walk in the snow. The ladies clean ice off the train. I bought an apple for 30 rubles. Next Omsk +1 hour. ImageImage
Omsk, Russia’s 7th largest city. Very industrial, giant port terminal. It’s cold and sunny and feels a million miles away from Moscow; time zone Moscow +3 hours! ImageImage
I should also mention I am blogging a bit in Russian for @luchshepoezdom (which means “it’s better by train”) sharing my impressions and photos along the way! I have lost my sense of time and can’t decide if I should go for dinner or wait. The restaurant car is open until 11pm!
We just lost another hour! This is crazy. 2 today, 2 yesterday, we are now 4 hours ahead of Moscow as we head towards Barabinsk and Novosibirsk. I am beginning to understand what my @lonelyplanet guide meant by meant by “disorientation sets in”. I am ticking off the stops: Image
And we have a new winner for the most depressing place in Russia I’ve spent a few minutes in! Barabinsk, Novosibirsk oblast. The ladies are selling dried fish, fur hats and fake perfume. I’ve just come to the restaurant car and ordered a salad and a sandwich for dinner. ImageImageImage
The truck is cleaning the sewage & it smells exactly like that, perhaps exacerbated by the cold. I wonder how many of my fellow male passengers are on their way towards getting completely pissed. There is an empty vodka bottle, 2 shot glasses and lemons on the table next to me. Image
My dinner. One guy in the restaurant is watching stand up comedy on You Tube at FULL VOLUME. There are times when I wish I didn’t understand Russian. Three guys are totally drunk and getting in trouble with the restaurant staff. I will eat fast. ImageImage
Last stop of today (actually it’s already tomorrow): Novosibirsk. Reminds me at night of a giant Canadian city with big wide streets and a long bridge over the Ob River. Plenty of snow but not cold, -6C. ImageImageImage
While I have no idea what’s happening in #iowa we’re a few hours outside of Krasnoyarsk. The landscape looks like Canada, rolling hills, pines, and villages that seem to survive against all odds - they look more lived in than those I saw in European Russia. Tiny wooden houses. ImageImageImage
By the time we reach Krasnoyarsk we will have covered 4000km since Moscow, which means another 5259km to go! The second half will take longer as the train will stop for 2 min at many smaller stations in eastern Siberia. I should mention we are *so far* ON TIME to the minute.
Impressions of Krasnoyarsk and the Yenisei River which is indeed not frozen! In black & white to match the mood and weather. Ahead is a very long stretch of towns I don’t know until we reach Irkutsk early tomorrow morning! ImageImageImageImage
It’s now getting hillier and you can feel the train pulling itself along the curves. Still tiny wooden houses still dotting the hills - some abandoned, some not. Image
The rocking of the train makes me sleepy, just like as a kid in the back of my parents’ car. I woke up from dozing off to see it’s become flat and it looks fuzzy like snow blowing through the air. I wonder if North Dakota looks like this too? Nearing the town of Kansk-Yenisei. Image
Quick stop in Ilanskaya. The shop was so uninspiring that I left empty handed - today didn’t feel like a day for imitation Chinese Snickers. My fellow travelers were disappointed that there was no vodka - only beer. I was slightly relieved tbh! Long night ahead towards Irkutsk. Image
Somepoint very soon we will be halfway to Vladivostok apparently. We stopped briefly in Taishet which was once a terrible Gulag transfer center. I set my alarm to wake up for Irkutsk! Internet is patchy which for Russia means we must REALLY be in the middle of nowhere. ImageImage
Omg just realized we are now 5 hours ahead of Moscow and 7 hours ahead of home! Crazy. This is like slow-form jet lag in tiny little bursts. The staff wear watches / use clocks set to Moscow time which I find even weirder but I guess that’s the only way to stay on track?!
After not much sleep - jet lag and pondering the meaning of life at 3am in the aptly named settlement of Zima - we reached Irkutsk. It’s a brisk -19C outside and I have new neighbors: American female pensioner tourists who think I only speak Russian. You do what you have to do. ImageImageImageImage
Lake Baikal from the southwest corner ImageImageImage
And some close ups! Incredible to be here and see the Lake Baikal in winter. It is breathtaking and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Beats watching #SOTU by a million. ImageImageImageImage
Mesmerizing, these must be the diving platforms for swimming in summer: #baikal #байкал #sotu (not haha) #nature #lake #siberia #сибирь
Ulan-Ude, -21C, definitely feels like Asia, Mongolia just over the border. ImageImage
We’ve moved forward another hour in Petrovsky-Zavod. I was surprised to see this mosaic to the Decembrists once jailed here. Although from what I’ve read between here and Khabarovsk (so like the next 48 hrs!) was basically exile territory. Modern times included (Chita). ImageImageImageImage
It’s 1.30am, -27C and I’m in Chita. That is all. Good night! ImageImage
Good morning from Chernyshevsk-Zabaikalsky where it is -31C and this was the sunrise that I awoke to: ImageImageImage
Next stop was 5 hrs later - Mogocha. We are winding along pretty close to the Chinese border towards the Amur region. The rivers are all frozen solid and the roads are all snow-covered mud. ImageImageImageImage
Amazar. Stray dogs everywhere, all the same gray color of the ice-covered asphalt. The frozen Shilka River, not far from the Chinese border. A lady was selling pirozhki for 50 rub out of an old pram. I bought one with egg and green onion, not sure if I should eat it tbh. ImageImageImage
The internet is patchy at best “out east” and I’m going a little crazy from that! A quick stop in Yerofei Pavlovich, named after Khabarov, who was a Siberian explorer. The train says 1941-45, the years of the Great Patriotic War. No idea what the dragon-like gates mean! ImageImage
At 7am we will reach Belogorsk which has a connection to Blagoveshchensk, which sits a short ferry ride from China. Very curious what if any measures are being taken there now. Do temps this cold kill viruses? The Russian granny in me thinks yes, my brain isn’t so sure.
Overslept and woke up in the Amur region! It’s sunny and the smokestacks are spitting out dark gray. This must still be coal country and I would bet no one can afford to listen to Greta. Soon we will reach the Jewish Autonomous Region, the only one if it’s kind outside Israel. ImageImage
❤️or 💔? Danil in Zavitinsk, Amur region. Rita in Krasnoyarsk. Love these things, I could wonder for hours about what happened to them... ImageImage
Obluchye in the Jewish Autonomous Region. No obvious signs of Jewish life but a tiny Lenin in front of the rail station (by the 📡 ). We are now +7 hours from Moscow. Next: a 5 min stop in Birobidzhan, the regional capital. ImageImage
5 min stop in Birobidzhan and I managed to snap this of the city name in Hebrew. They didn’t let me off the train, and I am getting stir crazy (about time I suppose). Tonight is Khabarovsk and my last supper. I’ve been promised trout and potatoes. Inshallah. Image
Rolled into Khabarovsk and sunset turned into evening. A giant industrial city which rises up seemingly out of nowhere on the banks of the Amur River. By 7am tomorrow we should be - if we remain on schedule - in Vladivostok! ImageImageImageImage
Arrived in the dark to Vladivostok under the light of a giant tangerine harvest moon. I’ve got a few hours until my airport train. I’m wearing a 😷here but I am one of the few. All very relaxed given the geographic location! It feels so weird not to be on the train anymore. ImageImageImageImage
Incredible ice fishing and driving SUVs on the bay outside of Vladivostok. I’m already at the airport waiting for my 9 hour flight back to Moscow. ImageImageImageImage
Made it to Moscow, had another shower, washed my hair, will say goodbye here with my celebratory glass of prosecco (I didn’t dare drink while traveling alone). I’m sure I will have a lot to look back on when this whole experience soaks in! Looking forward to Vienna ♥️ ImageImage
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