The Novosibirsk station is cavernous. Truly enormous in all dimensions. But, we’d arrived with plenty of time to be able to find our train/carriage/cabin. Immediately we noticed that inside this train was different. The colours, the finishing, something about it felt a little fancier. It was still obviously past it’s prime, but it wasn’t purely utilitarian like our last rides.
The light and Novosibirsk were disappearing together. We’ve caught a surprising number of sunsets on the this trip, which I’m grateful for that piece of good luck.
In the middle of the night, the other passengers joined our little four-bed cabin. Being tired, and having ear plugs and an eye mask, it was only a minor disturbance. Waking to seeing a large Russian man in his underwear was more of a disturbance.
The train was a nice comfortable/cool temperature when we arrived, and still nice when we went to bed, but during the night, with the (non-adjustable) heating up high, and with the door shut, I woke in what can best be described as a mild sauna, which sounds entirely more pleasant than it was. Walking around in a t-shirt in the 6˚C air at our 5:30AM stop in Omsk felt incredible, and gathered more than a few prolonged stares from locals in thick puffy jackets. Found some great chicken pastries for breakfast (which I could keep warm on top of the heater of our room), so apart from the much needed fresh air, it was a successful early start to the day.
Staring outside at the endless procession of grass and trees almost started to feel therapeutic. I was no longer seeing, but instead zoned out and thinking and contemplating all sorts of things. It’s boring, but at the same time it’s interesting.
I was tempted to just reuse photos from the last couple of days on the train instead of taking more today, as you’d honestly be struggle to tell the difference. The weather changed on us three or four times, with small showers and dark miserable skies, followed by beautiful strong sunshine, over and over.
A 40-minute stop near lunch time in Tyumen was enough time to visit a tiny cafeteria and eat with the locals – who were entertained at us trying our best to order. The dark and dank pathway to the restaurant didn’t instil much confidence, but the food was wholesome enough – and as always, preferable to the restaurant cart. It was also the most modern train station that we’ve seen so far.
A 30-minute early arrive in Yekaterinburg doubled the stopover to a full hour, which we could have used if the prodovnista hadn’t given us bad information about when the train was leaving (resulting in us standing on the platform for forty-minutes). Again, it was a mad dash to get outside of the station to find a restaurant, navigating through a subterranean maze of tunnels before catching our first glimpse of the very regal station’s grand façade.
We settled for the first food that wasn’t fried bread, which happened to be a kebab. And a very, very good one at that! As has been the routine recently, it was washed down with a different beer. Not knowing anything about Russian beers (and even less about the language) I was left to guess that tonight’s beer probably wasn’t Russian. Still, it was new to us, and it was cheap and tasty, so I guess it was a good choice.
We’ve both really enjoyed the graffiti that we’ve seen along the side of the railways (especially all the seal-man pieces in Irkutsk), but I’ve never had the camera ready to capture it. I’ll have to do my best to anticipate it in the future.
The weather cycled back to bleak, this time with lighting flickering on the horizon.
And then we arrived for a curious 30-minute stop in tiny, nothing station Drujinino, where there was more coal than life. Lonely Planet tells me that this area is the busiest section of rail in the world, owing to the transport of coal from the mines to fuel the fires in the iron plants. At least the small sheds selling snacks had cheap ice cream.
And this was our last multi-day journey, from here on it’s just two more short overnight journeys left. We’ll arrive in Kazan a little before 6AM tomorrow, finally in the Moscow time zone.