This was a totally different journey! Still in platskart (3rd class) but with a completely lovely utterly different bunch of carriage mates.
For starters our journey to the station was easy as pie thanks to the generosity of people helping to carry kit down the stairs to the taxi. We had a new friend from Portugal with us to share the taxi fare to the station.
The first people we met on the train were the band – absolutely lovely, intelligent and great to talk to. We stayed up rather late talking. This was followed by a good night’s sleep and easy daytime journey with clear bottom bunks and generous downstairs neighbours. In fact the couple who got on halfway through the journey asked to swap bunks so we and they had an upper and lower bunk each. Very comfortable indeed!
We got off the train rested and hopped into a taxi after some negotiation and went to our hostel. After a quick chat with our new room mates and a recommendation of a blini place we didn’t find, we ended up in a wood beamed pub that did real steak from a real cow (somehow when they describe a dish as “meat” it always makes a little nervous) and home-brew beer. So a.maz.ing steak, chips and a couple of pints later we fell in to bed and had a solid 12 hours sleep!
The next people to arrive were a German brother and sister who we’d already met in Godzilla’s in Moscow! They were breaking their journey for 1 night and had a super early train next morning.
The next day was a little walking tour of Novosibirsk taking in the cathedral and Stalin statue. We ate cheap Russian food in the canteen – these are sort hot buffets that sell all manner of lovely Russian things like sok, palmeni, blinis and shashlyk (juice, meat filled dumplings, super nice sweet or savoury pancakes and pork or chicken or beef kebabs) not to mention that Russian staple, borcsh (beetroot soup).
Our Portuguese friend moved on that night to lake Baikal.
We made friends with a group of 3 who were motorcycling round Russia wild camping in total freedom as they go. Jealous is not the word! Have a serious attack of the green eye monster.. the freedom! The wild camping! – especially the wild camping! We’ve swapped details and will be in Thailand at the same time so watch this space for (hopefully) serious diving action ;o)
Anyway so we didn’t disturb the Germans we stayed in the hall swapping stories and being good-naturedly abused by some scousers. That was a late one and another lie in and the day consisted of eating,drinking and gossiping. Time well wasted!
We got the metro to our next train. After Moscow’s behemoth of a metro, the 2 line, 8 stop metro was beyond cute and laughably easy to navigate.
We had an extremely nice surprise when we got on the train to Irkutsk… but you have to wait till the Trans-Sib Novosibirsk to Irkutsk post for more…
Total Trans-Siberian distance travelled: 3343 km
Total distance from nottingham: 9413 km