Train through Russian Countryside

Suzdal Travel Blog

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I booked a ticket for a 12-hour overnight train journey to a couple of small Russian towns. The ticket was for a complete tour package, including a "1st class" train cabin.

Most of you probably agree that "1st class" can be a very subjective term depending on experiences, right? Well, this was no exception. Upon boarding, I immediately knew this trip would be memorable. The 4-person cabin had no air conditioning or even a window that opened more than a few inches, and it was a very hot and humid evening. The vinyl couches were already quite sticky.

By comparison, however, the next coach was much worse. There were no cabins, but wide open with rows of open bunk beds from beginning to end. Crammed with people, and (sorry to say) absolutely reeking of body odor and the wafting cigarette smoke. So I was quite pleased that I had my "1st class" seat after all.

And this was apparently going to be "tourist class" - as there were only foreigners sharing my cabin - 3 Australians and New Zealanders. And it turned out they were "professional party-ers," coming on board with their bags full of beers and snacks, and getting the party started immediately.

 At least 6 other Aussies or Kiwis joined the party through the night. What could I do? I could not lie down, as my bed was actually the couch they were sitting on. I tried to be polite and hoped they would wear down soon. They did not. The "provodnista" (cabin attendant) came by to chastise our group, and the cabin next door banged on the walls to remind us that it was (after all) 3:30 in the morning. By luck/fate/karma it was clear I would not be sleeping on this trip. But about an hour later, I had fallen asleep sitting up, and one of the party-goers from another cabin invited me to switch rooms with him. I hated leaving my bags unattended, but I just HAD to sleep. (I wish I had considered the option earlier, actually!)

PS: Note to Rennie and Mano - Thanks for helping to talk me OUT of doing the entire 7-day Trans-Siberian rail journey!
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photo by: Kramerdude