From Moscow to Yekaterinburg

The first time traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway

March 4, 2016 in A journey through Russia

Yesterday at 10 am, I packed my things, because at 11:30 came the taxi and took me to Moscow Kazanskiy Station. I arrived too early at the station, so I had plenty of time to drink two hot coffee. As I went around 13:00 in the direction of the track, the train was already there and I was able to enter.

Each Wagon is it’s individual unit with it’s own train attendant waiting in front of her wagon with a passenger-list in her hand. Unfortunately - or as might be expected - none of the train attendants spoke English. So I just showed my ticket to each and every train attendant until I found the right wagon.

On the way to the right wagon

Once inside the correct wagon, I searched for my compartment and entered. I had booked second class and the carriage is structured so that when the engine is at the front, on the right side is the walking way and to the left are the compartments. Each with 4 beds. Each has a window, a table, and left and right of the table there are two padded benches that can be transformed into beds. Furthermore on top of these are two more beds that can be reached with small ladders.

In the compartment also already sat my compartment comrades. Two Russian Grannys. On the way I took off my clothes and tried to accommodate, they recognized well that I first traveled with the Trans-Siberian and showed me first the various storage options. I was amazed because in these compartments can be really opened every little cranny. It is also quite tight there, so that makes sense. As far as everything was stowed, they brought me a hot tea first and offered cookies and sandwich to me. I did not know whether I should accept or reject politely and decided to accept for it. Brave, I ate and drank everything.

Meanwhile the train had already set off and I could look through the window and see the landscape. I have made a lot of pictures, these have unfortunately due to the lighting conditions, the movement and the dirty windows become less good. Overall, the presented landscape was rather disappointing. Snow Fields, from time to time a snowy plain, then a couple of villages and a few remote villages and then the a forest, more forest, a lot more forest. While it is nice to see so much untouched nature, these particular also looked rather lifeless. Only very rarely I once saw tracks in the snow.

After an hour or two the promised meal was brought to us already. At first there was a yogurt, a small muffin, a dark bread and a granola bar. Later, a dish was brought: Rice with chicken. After the meal we laid down. Several hours later, the first Granny had been off. The other Granny was, like me, heading to Yekaterinburg. Generally the train stopped often at many points in time and let people get on and off. I took the opportunities to get out and also to take pictures.

At about 1am it was then time to turn of lights and to sleep. I had since then not done much more than to look out the window or to relax or to try to communicate with Elena (The Russian Grany with which I was on the way to Yekaterinburg). I used a small dictionary and the Google Translate app for which I had specially downloaded the language files for Russian, German and English before. One should not expect too much here. The app can but a lot is not a panacea. Though, It was enough to know the most necessary and to pronounce.

The compartment. My bed is to the right. To the left is Elena

The next morning, I had just opened my eyes only for a few minutes, I saw Elena suddenly started to set the table. A napkin on my side, one on hers, then a hard-boiled egg for her and for me and in the middle were slices of bread with cream cheese and sausage. Then she went and fetched coffee for both of us. I sat all the time, and I figured what’s going on now. Although I had read about Russian hospitality, to experience it yourself it’s something entirely different. I showed her that I had myself thought of food and raised my pack Instant Noodles. But she merely pointed to this and shook her head ‘njät’.I assumed she indicated that Instant Noodles are not the healthiest meal. Compared with what was on the table, I agreed with her. So we had breakfast together and I again ate obediently everything.

After breakfast again more or less the same events as yesterday happened. I looked a little out of the window, got out when the train stopped, exercised me in communicating with Elena or just relaxed. A highlight was that, when passing Kazan, I had the opportunity to get a snapshot of the Qolşärif Mosque. This is the second largest mosque in Russia.

The Qolşärif Mosque
Moskau_Impressionen_02032016-14.jpg “The Qolşärif Mosque (pronounced [kɔlʃæˈriːf], also spelled Qol Sharif, Qol Sherif and Kol Sharif via the Tatar Qol Şärif mäçete, Qolşärif mäçete, and Kul Sharif via the Russian мечеть Кул-Шариф, mechet Kul-Sharif) located in Kazan Kremlin, was reputed to be – at the time of its construction – one of the largest mosques in Russia, and in Europe outside of Istanbul.” To Wikipedia

After a few more hours, I reached Yekaterinburg and said goodbye to my Russian Granny. I did not know how I should thank her for so much hospitality and therefore just took a page out of my notebook and wrote her a few words of thanks and my contact information, among other things, the address of this blog. So dear Elena, if you visit this site …. Thank you for taking care of me on the train and for being so helpful and friendly. I enjoyed your hospitality and want to let you know that you took a very big part in the reason why I will keep this first trip with the Transsib as a positive memories forever in my mind.

In Yekaterinburg I took a taxi directly to the hotel (actually a taxi should have picked me up but the hotel had probably forgotten to reserve). Finally there I could take a shower at last and sat down only with the laptop in bed.

Pictures and Performance

It may be that images now load more slowly than they did previously. I had previously used Amazon S3 to deliver the images, but this is free only up to a certain amount of requests. Since the amount of requests has been exceeded significantly, I now have disabled this and my server delivers the images now all itself until I find a better solution. I’ve already uploaded all the images to flickr and it can also be accessed there. If you click on the blog on the menu item ‘Pictures’ you already get there. For the blog to integrate this it takes me some time to get into the flickr-api but right now I don’t have that time. Until then I can only apologize for the poor performance in loading the images. Please bear with me.

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