|Farewell at Kazansky Station|
First of all, I should note that pictures will have to wait until I'm back in the States, unfortunately. I'm going to try and update my account at each stop, but no promises. The next entry should come from Novosibirsk, a couple days from now. To begin, I'll start at Kazansky Station in Moscow where, after several days getting over jetlag and skulking around Moscow with Cole Akeson, my old friend from Macalester, the real adventure began.
The care with which Cole and Inga, his Russian girlfriend tucked me into my cabin on the train at its very beginning drove home the scale of this journey. They probably understand the distance and conditions better than anyone else I've talked to since I hatched this plan last year, and they made sure I got exactly the right bunk and had my backpack safely stowed away beneath my cabin before taking their leave.
|Oleg and Ivan.|
Cabin meals, by contrast, were much more pleasant. The second morning, having slept deeply until 9:30, I woke to some shifting around in the bunk on top of me. Oleg's legs were soon snaking down from above; next, he was encouraging me to join him for breakfast and asking if I wanted some hot water for tea from the samovar at the end of the corridor. Thanks to Cole and Inga, I was prepared with some food of my own, so we shared bread, sausage, cucumber, tomato, and some nuts and dried fruit. Between Ivan's Kindle's Russian-English translation capabilities and some shared rudimentary German, we established some basics of background and interests. By the afternoon, when the train stopped for a half-hour at a deserted station to attach a new engine, Oleg was escorting me around the platform as if I was a younger, foolish cousin. Ivan even gave me an ice-cream, one of a sack that he had purchased at a kiosk on the platform. For some reason, Russian ice cream doesn't seem to melt.
An hour or two later, after passing by more of the rolling, green forest that seems to be a mix of deciduous and conifers, we came to the Yekaterinburg Station. 1500 kilometers complete - the first of five legs. In all, it took about 27 hours. For the time being, I'm cooling my heels in cafes and wandering around town, trying to stay fully hydrated and well-fed to make the next stage of the train as pleasant as possible. I head off for Novosibirsk tonight around 6 PM.
|A brief stop near Yekaterinburg.|