Our journey finally continued on 12th July when we left Moscow on the night train bound for the Tatar city of Kazan 820km south east.
Our beds on the train were in a 2nd class -kupe – compartment which we shared with 2 Russian gentlemen one of whom spoke English and pointed out sights along the way including a station where workers from the nearby glass factory peddled all kinds of glass items along the platform – tumblers, vases and even chandeliers. None of these would have survived a journey such as ours so despite the sellers’ best efforts we regretfully declined to hand over our hard earned cash for a set of beautiful etched coffee pot and matching coffee glasses.
As this was an overnight train I opened my eyes in my 30th birthday on the top bunk of a Russian trans siberian train winding its way across the steppe.
Kazan is the city of the Tatar people, Turkic Muslims who have managed to retain their religion and language despite the city being seized by Ivan the Terrible and Tatars being banned from the city. It is hosting the 2013 Universiade (a kind of Olympics for students from all around the world so there’s a lot of work going on.
In Kazan we left our things at the kamera (left luggage) and went into town to buy a suitcase for our dive kit as the holdall it was in was totally unsuitable. Once we’d collected our stuff we headed to our hostel, settled in then headed out to have lunch and see the Kremlin.
Kazan’s Kremlin is beautiful, white walls contrast dazzlingly with the blue domes of the cathedral, minerets of the mosque and cloudless blue skies. We just had time to wander the Kremlin and visit the Tatar museum before heading back to the hostel for an early night so we would be up for our super early 4.30am train to Yekaterinberg.
Trans Siberian distance travelled: 820km
Total distance travelled from Nottingham: 6070km