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So far on this trip we’ve met some seriously awesome people . Some Russian, some European and others from oz or America and we’ve met them all over the place. Each person has a story, they are all going somewhere  and they never fail to smash my preconceptions to smithereens.

Of the Russians we’ve met:

  • You’d expect hostel staff to be friendly and helpful but not to go to the train station and help you buy tickets the morning after they finish their night shift.
  • The young girl on the metro who didn’t speak a word of English but didn’t give up and waited till we could show her our lonely planet then pointed us in the right direction.
  • On our overnight train from Yekaterinberg to Novosibirsk a young man of around mid 20s helped with our bags. Turned out he and his 2 companions were in a rock band called The Kavaros Milkshake and were travelling to Omsk to do a gig. We stayed up till late chatting and learning about Russia and drinking tea (apparently tea is huge in Russia – who’d have thought it!). They gave us their cd, signed for when they’re rich and famous. They’re pretty good. Here’s some of their songs..  Is That Your Halo? / Poor Broken Child / Yeah / Hey Girl Remember you heard them here first!
  • On the train from Novosibirsk the ladies in the next carriage were also musicians, playing ethnic music, and told us about a spiritual and ethnic festival in Irkutsk where we were heading.
  • There was an overbooking in one hostel so the girl (an ex quality associate, like me) who ran it had arranged a bed at her friend’s house. This was a trial as they were thinking of opening his flat as an extension so there was no charge. Her friend was a talented designer who spoke no English but made us feel so at home. And she came with us to help us send some things back to UK by translating for us.

We’ve also met other travellers who never fail to be an interesting and varied bunch.

  • 3 young girls travelling together on the vodka train  who lit up the room with the energy and confidence of gap year students,
  • A group of intrepid explorers who have brought their motorbikes to Russia and with barely any Russian are going well off the beaten track to see what’s there,
  • A Yale professor writing about the country’s flora and fauna,
  • A young English couple who are travelling from Moscow to Beijing all at once – a distance of over 9000 km in 5 days!
  • A lad from Portugal who at 20 has already done far more travelling than S and I put together – he is continuing his journey after Russia through America and finally back to Europe.
  • There’s also a German brother and sister who we keep meeting along the way who are also on a short trip for the summer.
  • The elderly French Gentleman who is cycling the world 2 weeks at a time.

The enthusiasm for their work and travels, their knowledge, honesty and integrity of all these people, and more, have enriched our experience travelling through Russia making it that much better, giving us a different perspective on situations and in some cases inspiring us to keep exploring.