So, the day has finally arrived…the Trans-Mongolian trip is here. After a quick breakfast, it was back onto the Moscow metro and off to Yaroslavsky Station to catch the 12.45, train number 008 to Yekaterinburg.
After managing to find the correct platform, it was onto the train and sort my stuff in the kupé. I was soon joined by a young guy, who could not speak a word of English. Later, before we left Moscow, a couple of business type chaps arrived and promptly disrobed before getting into the top bunks and off to sleep! That seemed like strange behaviour to me but maybe that’s commonplace on Russian trains.
After a while, the provodnitsa came around for the tickets and to ask for the food orders; anyway, I think that’s what it was all about as my Russian was better than their English, which is pretty bad news, really. Well, after 7 ½ hours of chugging along, we arrived at Nizhny Novgorod and my three companions departed. What was strange was that the two businessmen, I their suits, were only carrying briefcases and no overnight bag; it would have been interesting to know whether they were heading off to a meeting or returning home.
At this station, a new companion joined the kupé and he stayed with me all the way to Yekaterinburg. Although he could not speak any English, he was very generous with the little food he had and also tried his best to point out different sights, mainly cities and rivers. As a consequence, my trip was peaceful and dry (no bad thing, to be honest) and I actually managed to read quite a bit.
As we went further east, the temperature became colder and more snow appeared on the ground, but being inside the train was warm and comfortable. The night passed peacefully, as did the next day, and the train arrived on time, at 17.35 on Tuesday 22 October.
The only major talking point of the trip (apart from the somewhat dubious meals that were included in the price of the ticket) was that I had left Europe and was now in Asia, geographically speaking.
Once in Yekaterinburg, I found the hostel quite easily (via the complex Yekaterinburg metro) and so the first proper venture into Russia began.
Stats: Moscow to Yekaterinburg is 1,816 kms and 30 hours on the train.