The Trans- Siberian Railway starts in Moscow and only till Irkutsk it crosses 5 time zones through around 5000 km in 4 day nonstop ride. We broke this route down to get the new food supplies, stretch the legs and feel the daily life outside the train window by stopping in a few cities during our 7 day journey. We started in Vladmir from where we wanted to get to Kazan. The route goes through Nizny Novgorod, where we had to spend half day before taking the night train to Kazan. We left our bags on the station and hit the town.
Nizhny Novgorod (aka Nizny)
After 3 hours in the train, our first impression when we got out of the station was’ where am I? Very busy and messy side of the town, with huge market place and kebab shops seemed not to be the best place to hang out, but 10 minutes later by trolleybus, the other side of the river looked much different. We stayed there enjoying the clifftop Kremlin with its view over the Oka River and one of the pedestrian streets with local performers and street scammers inviting people to compete in a challenge, which surprisingly was quite a popular thing.
After another smooth 8 hour night ride, we woke up in Kazan
First time when taking the overnight train from Saint Petersburg to Moscow, we were wondering if it’s safe to travel in platskart but the answer is definitely yes, it is. In the carriage there are only passengers with valid tickets and assigned places approved by provadnitsa. There is a place to store your luggage under or above the seats. And last but not least, this is not a party on the wheels as some legends say, we could hardly see anybody drinking and if they did they’re rather hiding with this. We met couple of foreigners travelling in platskart and all of them were very enthusiastic about it on contrary to many Russians. 🙂
Back to Kazan, It is a pretty and clean city starting from the elegant train station, with walking distance to major historical attractions like Unesco listed Kremlin with Mosque and Cathedral and the city center. Apart from that we found some nice spots to drink beer and canteens for lunch.
Next day we took another night train to Yekateringburg accompanied by the bunch of kids travelling from dance festival, who were keeping us entertained until they crashed.
The city is located on the border of Europe and Asia and it’s known as a place where the last Russia’s tsar was executed by Bolsheviks. The city is a mixture of modern and historical sites with lots of social life along the City Pond and the Iset River. We had again around half day between the trains and we spent it well in amazing Uzbek restaurant and chilling at the pond before catching ride to Novosibirsk.
This 3rd biggest city in Russia and the unofficial capital of Siberia is a busy city with the communistic architecture focused on Lenin square. Well to be honest we didn’t find any highlights about this city, maybe apart from the hot shower on the train station that after 21 hours in train was highly appreciated.
The real top highlight of this week was the life we shared with our fellow passengers in the platskart and the time spent in the train going with its own rhythm consisted of different rituals like drinking instant ‘3 in 1’ coffee or eating Chinese noodle soup; having breaks on the platform for a smoke and buying some goodies from the locals until provadnitsa will give the sign to get on board again; making new friends and having long conversations through google translate; sleeping; playing all the possible games including a card game called ‘Durak’ or simply gazing through the window.
It’s surely unforgettable experience and great stories to tell over a drink once back home…