Four days on the train

Irkutsk Travel Blog

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The train

We spent four days in a row on the train, to get from Moscow to Irkutsk. Because we booked the Trans-Mongolian as a package through Monkey Business, we were collected from the hotel and driven to the train station in Moscow. This made it easier than having to navigate the Moscow transport system. It's not that the metro is a problem, it's just sometimes you feel lazy.

We shared our four-berth second class cabin with two Irish backpackers. They introduced us to the ubiquitous backpacker's card game: Shithead. This helped pass the time over the next four days. We spent our time reading and chatting, and listening to music. The view out of the window was largely unchanging: birch trees and haystacks.

Buying things on the platform
This was a bit disappointing, as we'd expected to see the scenery change as we headed into Asia. We missed the Ural mountains, because we were asleep. We met a couple who'd got the train all the way from Berlin, and said it was birch trees all the way that side of Moscow too!

Two or three times a day the train would stop for twenty minutes, allowing us to get off and stretch our legs. The train was often too warm, so a chance to get some fresh air was usually appreciated. There was food to buy on the platforms: berries, dried fish, instant noodles, biscuits etc. Bottled water and fruit juice as well. The only danger was getting left behind; we did lose a French tourist at one of the stations. Hopefully they got on the next train.

The restaurant car provided an opportunity to get away from the compartment while the train was moving.

Our compartment
It was supplied with fresh air, as well as beer, and gherkins. They ran out of various things off the menu as the journey went on, but any ingredient they didn't have could apparently be replaced with gherkins without changing the essential nature of the dish. Personally I think that eggs and gherkins taste different... I took a real liking to the Baltika 9 beer which they had, which unfortunately ran out after a day and a half.

I thought that I'd get really bored on the train: I don't normally like train journeys, and I'm not a fan of beach holidays where you just lie reading a book all the time, so I thought I'd get really restless. In the end I really enjoyed the experience. I'd like to factor another long train journey into some travelling some time in the future.

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The train
The train
Buying things on the platform
Buying things on the platform
Our compartment
Our compartment
Watching the birch trees
Watching the birch trees
Our provodnitsa - the lady who loo…
Our provodnitsa - the lady who lo…
Zoe in the restaurant car
Zoe in the restaurant car
Irkutsk
photo by: nidge76