Trans-Siberian - Crossing Russia to Siberia

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Trans-Siberian Trip
St. Petersburg and Moscow
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The Trans-Siberian
Siberia
The Trans-Mongolian
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The Ger Camp
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China
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For approximately 65 hours we travelled across Russia to the city of Irkutsk in Siberia.

We boarded the train just after noon on August 8th. At 11am on August 12th we disembark in Irkutsk, Siberia - 5185 kilometres and 5 timezones later. The experience of travelling for this length of time on a train is hard to describe but felt like an endless picnic. We watched the trees, towns, villages and more trees pass by the window, slept, ate, napped, chatted, read, laughed, took photos, played games, ate, visited, and laughed some more.

The train ran almost continuously for the entire period with the math working out to an average speed of 80 km/h. Every 4-6 hours were short stops usually 5 to 20 minutes - just enough to get off and stretch the legs but never time to venture beyond the station platform. The train arrived in Irkutsk right on schedule.


Food and Drink

No food was available on the train so we ate food we had bought in Moscow and bought from babushka and shops on the platforms. There was a restaurant car on the train but they never had food available. Vodka and beer were eagerly sold by the restaurant proprietor and we met some interesting people there, including Nick's Mongolian train driver friend.

Instant noodles
Is it sparkling water?


Drinks in the restaurant car


Platforms

Since the train never stopped for more than about 25 minutes and could leave at any moment, we never ventured off the platforms. Fortunately, at most stops there were people selling stuff or small shops to buy essentials.

Our purchases ranged from delicious raspberries to not so delicious fish pancakes. Water, beer, juice, bread and ice cream were also usually available.

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Babushkas


Visiting and Reading

65 hours on a train leaves lots of time for talking, reading, napping and visiting. We were all amazed at how quickly the time passed.

Visiting
Window watching


Camera games
Bingo games


Reading


The Carriage

The attendants in our car guarded the steps at stops, cleaned the car and toilets and rarely smiled. Our lives were governed by the schedule posted in the corridor which set out the scheduled arrival and durations of all the stops. The toilets were locked 20 minutes before and after stations. The entire train and all the stations ran on Moscow time - even when local time was 5 hours ahead.

Carpet cleaning
Schedule


The twelve of us were split between 3 4-person compartments next to another on car 16 of the train. Julie, our tour leader, was next door sharing a compartment with 3 others.

Sharon, Janiece and Sinead with whom I shared our compartment
The compartment
A toilet


Scenery

We passed huge cities and small villages. The villages we blasted through without slowing down. The large cities included Novosibirsk, Russia's third largest city.

Russian village
Sleepy station


Urban development
Endless rural roads


But much of the time we passed through endless countryside. The endless forests of Russia faded into the rolling hills of the Ural Mountains which eased into the more open flats of Siberia over the course of the trip.

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Arriving in Siberia

The provodnitsa woke us at 4am for our 6am stop in Irkutsk, Siberia. We suffered some 'jet' lag as the local time was 11am and almost lunch time even though we were just waking up.

Unloading in Irkutsk


Continue on to the Siberia or return to the main page.