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Edinburgh – Tokyo

AK-47

I’m a bit annoyed with myself this morning. My plan was to rise early in time for our 22 minute stop in Ilanskaya. Today is devoid of any long daylight stops so I thought it would be a good start to the day. But at 03.13 Moscow time (but 07.13 local) it was still dark and I lacked the self motivation to leave my comfy berth. This is a very subtle form of torture as you have to continually refer to two time zones growing further apart – it’s not like going on a foreign holiday and just changing your […]

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Trainspotting

There is a kind of long distance trainspotting club that now forms on the platform outside of carriage no 7. We don’t have much in common – other than a shared experience of coping with life on the train. The English speaking members of the club are currently just Taegeun, Alex and myself. We are actively recruiting though. Other potential members of the club are a young Russian girl (always dressed in a tracksuit) who sometimes has dinner in the restaurant, and a middle aged, middle class, Russian couple with who I’m now on “Dobroye Utro” terms – that’s “Good […]

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The Fish Wives of Barabinsk

Morning! 06.53 Moscow time. Happy Christmas from Barabinsk, where it’s lightly snowing but pretty warm at -3 C. I didn’t plan to be in Barabinsk on Christmas morning, but that’s only way to make my connection with the ship in Vladivostok.. I’m doing my best to be Christmassy here today, but it’s a fairly solitary experience. “Official Train Christmas” is actually not until next week, as the Russian Orthodox Church has varying dates. I have a bottle of Russian champagnski on ice and also some mince pies (Marks & Spencer’s finest!). Chef has cooked me some chicken but I’m getting all excited […]

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Yekaterinburg

I am led to believe that Yekaterinburg is one of the great railway stations of Siberia. I’m winding my watch on an hour a day after two hours forward yesterday, so 15.00 Moscow time, and it’s dark.. I’m at 18.00 local, which means I can now visit the restaurant carriage (aka “Robin’s Nest”) for a cold Zhiguli beer. They are playing some mildly irritatingly middle of the road rock music. We have stopped only three times today, just once in daylight. Most of the stops are for 22 minutes, I assume that this is to facilitate a locomotive change, to […]

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Espresso Love

There are only two hot beverage certainties on a Trans-Siberian train. Firstly, the coffee in the restaurant carriage will always be seriously bad. Secondly, that there will always be a limitless amount of boiling water available in the samovar at the end of your carriage. I have experimented with filter coffee and coffee bags. You can have a reasonable cup of coffee that way, as long as you take care not to scold the coffee and to get the dilution ratio right. But this trip I’m keen to have a proper “Class A” coffee fix in the morning, so I […]

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Balezino

It would have been pretty hard not to have woken up at Balezino this morning. 05.27 Moscow time, still dark outside and the first chance of the day to smash the accumulated ice off the underside of the train. In case you are not familiar with this, in Siberia at every stop every carriage has to be whacked repeatedly with a huge metal bar. There are some manly men resident in the train who do things like this, but it seems anyone with a big object is welcome to join in. I tried to stay in bed, but the combination […]

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Unknown Pleasures

My first post from onboard train number 2 – The Rossiya. I just really wanted to share a few thoughts on my new home. My experience of Trans-Sib travel up until now has all been aboard the Chinese train 004. Full of character, but pretty clapped out and with an aroma and atmosphere all of its own. So here I am today on a Russian Trans-Sib train for the first time. It’s quite different! First in case you are reading this to plan for a trip, let me mention a couple of train things. Generally the lower the number of […]

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Moonraker

After my first good night of rest on a train for this trip I arrived into Moscow at lunchtime today. Much to my disappointment it’s still quite warm here – just below freezing, but no snow lying in the city. It’s due to freeze good and proper on Friday, but it is just damp with a wintery wind today. I met up with Alexey (my resident interpretor, guide and fixer in Moscow) in the afternoon and we did some cosmonaut stuff. He reminds me that a couple of years ago we went out to a nearby airforce base in December […]

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Fifty-Fifty to Minsk

I’m on the D10 now. It leaves Warsaw at 16.08, arriving into Moscow Belorussky station at 12.15 the following day. I’m having some immediate communication problems with my new guard. It hasn’t been an been an ideal introduction to base our relationship on. First of all he seemed not to know where my compartment was – there are only 12 in the carriage, but I had to wonder if I was going to be sleeping in the toilet for a moment. It’s probably as my ticket is a Russian one, and it makes no sense to me either. Once I […]

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Enigma

I have had a short but enjoyable stay in Warsaw as I prepare to hop on the train to Moscow. I have been staying at the Marriott, an enormous property just a stone’s throw from the central station. One reason that I’m here is that I’m a big fan of the 80’s TV black comedy “A Very Peculiar Practice”. The last ever (feature length) episode “A Very Polish Practice” was partly filmed in the hotel. I’m big fan of Dr Bob Buzzard, played by David Troughton – who, in case you had not realised, is the son of the late […]

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