Day 6: Trans-Siberian railway
Krasnoyarsk Travel Blog› entry 7 of 34 › view all entries
Our German neighbours had manage to arrange us a shower! The first class carriage contains a shower cabin, and as the train was fairly empty (I think only one or two first class compartments were occupied), we were able to use the shower for a small fee.
I must say, it is quite an experience trying to shower in a moving, shaking, train, but after more than 72 hours without one (last shower was before checking out of our Moscow hotel on Tuesday morning) this one constitutes as one of the best in my life!
At the first big stop of the day, Krasnoyarsk, Maciek met a guy of Polish descent with a sad story to tell. His grandparents had been banished to Siberia during the Stalin era. He now lives pretty much alone with no family and without a nationality.
He is officially Russian, but he doesn't feel Russian. He is not allowed to go back to Poland (Polish authorities won't allow him due to strict immigration laws) so meanwhile he is pretty much stuck here, living in an industrial city halfway Siberia with a job as train-brake-tester (i.e. walking past every train, hitting the wheels with a sledgehammer - day in day out, all year long).
The remarkable thing is that this guy spoke perfect English - it is quite a rarity for Russians to speak English, and even more so Russians holding a job like his. I mean, staff working on the train don't speak a word of English, but the guy checking the brakes does... weird!
Maciek was visibly moved after hearing this story. During my childhood Russians were portrayed as the bad guys, but they never really felt like a real threath.
Ilanka station was another gem. Not so much the architecture of the station, but the atmosphere!
There were many food peddlers here, selling many different types of home cooking: Siberian dumplings, fried fish patties, several types of potatoes, bliny's with cottage cheese - we certainly managed to find a great picknick here!
With some lukewarm beers (locally brewed Bavaria??) to wash it down our last meal on the train was a genuine feast!