- Pre-trip preparations!
- Waking up in Warsaw!
- Warsaw, vodka and visas
- Hello Moscow – good to see you again!
- Russian cities and trains
- Banya in Yekaterinburg
- The second leg of the train ride: Yekaterinburg -> Irkutsk
- Irkutsk – Near the great Lake Baikal
- The last leg of the train ride. Irkutsk -> Ulan-Bataar
- Mongolia – 2 day tour!
- The end of the trip – our last night in Ulan-bataar
As we left we felt pretty happy and contend. Things were looking good and we believed that after our visas were in order everything was in control. we didnt see anything troublesome. We felt like this peacock – happy and carefree
Peacock in a large park in warsaw
That changed though. In warsaw we managed to get to the right track, platform and sector although the only number they seemed to use was platform. We were a little worried when the train didnt show on the track monitor 2 minutes before departure… were we on the right track (!?) 5 minutes earlier some polish message was spoken in the loadspeakers which made 9/10 leave the tracks and move somewhere else so that had us a little worried. A quick ask around ensured us that everyone else was also waiting for the train to moscow. 10 minutes later (it was delayed), the train rolled in and we got on.
We were worried that the tickets for this 20 hour train ride was only for seating, not beds but when we got to our numbers we got very happy – it was beds and we had the room to ourselves! We quickly praised lady luck again and took some picture
view from the train (and a smiley face?)
Then the troubles started rolling in. We were met by the conductor and after inspecting our “tickets” he wasnt happy. they were not valid. We later found out that apparently they were russian train system vouchers that had to be changed to real tickets first… and here’s the kicker – it has to be in russia! basically that means that tickets going from warsaw to russia are useless as you first have to be in russia to validate them – crazy russian train system.
We tried asking if there was a way to stay in the room but he said no – even after we starting waving some roubles. He was nice enough to let us ride on 2nd class (normal seats) instead of kicking us out. Then we could get to terespol (by the border where the train holds still for 45 minutes). This should be enough for us to buy new tickets. Luckily he didnt simply kick us out!!
We got there and quickly got in a heated argument with a polish train ticket saleswoman that didnt know what to do with the (in the polish eyes) worthless vouchers, a random nice polish/english speaking woman and us. After some swearing and aggitated voices we were told to follow another (calmer) ticket lady to the platform. We had to wait a little away since it was practically a border we were standing on but the ticket lady was allowed to go there and she talked to the conductors. She then came back with the information that were only valid in russia. Meanwhile I snapped a picture of the border while noone was looking
Well to make a long story short, we had to buy new tickets and then we got on the train and had to get our tickets and visa checked (it ran us 220 eur for two tickets to moscow but maybe its not so bad as we might get our old tickets refunded)
The visa check took about 1hour by a beatiful border patrol woman and after asking us what was in our bags (private stuff and vodka) she accepted our passports and walked away. We got them back about half an hour later.
We thought that we now could relax (we had gotten new tickets with a room similar to the old room so still the nice comfort) but there was one more surprise waiting for us.
When we arrived in Brest, hordes of babushkas, boarded the train with pivo (beer), sok(juice) and all kinds of bread and chicken. They competed intensely with each other, talking hectically and a haggle between what we wanted, how much it should be, and which of the ladies we should buy from started. At the same time we had to move room (the conductor asked us) and I was extremely tired.
After a whirlwind of russian and absolutely no english we had a beer, some peanuts, some juice, some deep fried chicken and some bread. Actually a lot of it. we ended up paying about 1500 RUB, which is approximately 225 DKK (30EUR). Not very cheap relative to what it was but okay compared to the situation and that we were very hungry 🙂
We ate the food and looked out the window. It was pretty nice that we could open the windows and stick our head out without anyone minding. Everyone seemed pretty content with us doing whatever so that was nice.
We waited about two hours for our train underwagon to change as the tracks are different in belarus. They basically lifted up the entire train on huge jacks and rolled these things in under us while we were all in the train. During this time (visa check + train change) of approximately 3 hours, we couldnt go the restroom. Which was pretty much the only thing the conductor DID mind… which is understandable as the feces would have fallen straight down in the workshop 🙂
We then went to bed (Nikolaj wasnt done partying and went looking for someone to party but there was noone to be found). The night passed as we rolled by Minsk and left Belarus behind us. Arriving in Moscow at 11:45 in the day.
We are now checked in at our hostel, the weather is good and the hostel seems nice. Although – apparently hot water is “en by i rusland” as there is only cold water. It’s a saying in Danish that means “a city in russia”. You say that when it’s very unlikely you’ll get it – as unlikely as finding yourself in that exact city somewhere in all of russia. Which is kinda ironic as we are in fact in a city in russia 🙂
As one should always end on a stong joke – this will be the end of this post!
Tomorrow is day 1 of the actual trans-siberian railroad. Exciting stuff