Late on Saturday 26th October, I found myself boarding the 22.17 train from Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk; it is just a mere 57 hours and 3,370 kms to get to Irkutsk. I had booked a kupé with meals and, after the shenanigans on the previous train over ordering my food, it would be interesting to see what happens.
Waiting in the kupé I was presently joined by a Russian lady who, as with my previous companions, could not speak a word of English; this should be interesting! As it was, Margosha (for that was her name) turned out to be a bit of a laugh. She was soon in her bag and produced a 2l bottle of cognac and another of gin and tonic…this could be messy.
It’s amazing how you can communicate with the help of some cognac and a basic understanding of a foreign lingo; Margosha was on her way to visit one of her three daughters and two of her five grandchildren in Krasnoyarsk, which meant that we would be sharing the kupé for about 36 hours. Anyway, we had quite a fun time, desperately trying to make each other understand what we were talking about and laughing at our utter inability to hold a conversation. It was now that I wished that I’d brought an English-Russian-English dictionary.
With regards to the meals, I didn’t really have any idea of what I was to receive as I couldn’t understand what the provodnitsa was on about and, sadly, I still wasn’t sure what I had after consuming it!
Sadly, the party atmosphere in the kupé was to come to a shuddering halt the following day. Mid-way through Sunday afternoon a rather prim and proper lady joined the kupé and was not happy with us, to the point that she obviously complained as the provodnitsa came into the kupé, shouted a bit in Ruski and swanned off with the remainder of the drinks! Shocking behaviour! I was told that I should sleep but as it was only 5.00pm local time I decided that it would be best to have a little snack in the restaurant car, accompanies, of course, by a little vodka.
The rest of the journey to Krasnoyarsk was very quiet, what with our po-faced lady in the kupé for a good deal of the time and the cognac hangover! As we arrived in Krasnoyarsk on Monday afternoon it was sad to see my drinking buddy leave but, luckily, the dragon also departed the train and I was left alone in the kupé for, what I hoped, would be for the rest of the journey.
However, later on Monday afternoon, I was joined by another chap who would remain with me for the rest of the journey to Irkutsk and, as usual, he had no English either. It was interesting, though, to hear him on his mobile as he constantly switched between Russian and what was, I guess, his native tongue without missing a beat (not that I could work out which particular Asian language this was). Luckily, he was not keen on chatting or sharing any drinks!
Finally, at 10.10 a.m. on Tuesday 29th October, we pulled into Irkutsk but we were, surprisingly, 30 minutes late. Still, my longest train journey to date was over.