Monday, July 23, 2007

Trans-Siberian train

We are in Moscow and I am posting from the business center of our hotel. We arrived about 3 hours ago and have had time to get a much needed shower and buy some food for a quick supper. We haven't downloaded any pictures today so I will just stay with text for now.

Our three day train trip went well. We shared a compartment with Carol and Derek. This was a newer train car and better maintained so made for a pleasant trip. The forced air system worked so we stayed comfortable. The bathrooms were cleaner. The only down side is that after three days we all really wanted a shower!

I was surprised by the scenery we saw on the journey from Irkutsk to Moscow. I had imagined it would be flat and barren. Instead we saw lots of birch and pine trees interspersed with meadows that often had colorful wildflowers. The dominant color when looking out the train window was green. We would pass by villages and small towns that seemed to focus on the railroad. The station often was the biggest building we saw and many were painted in bright colors.The further west we went the more populated the areas became.

We played games in our compartment including Boggle, Tile Rummey, Double Solitaire, and Facts in five. We also read books and visited with each other and other travelers. Whenever there was a long enough stop we would all pile out of the car onto the platform. We would walk around and sometimes buy food from the vendors.
We ate one meal in the dining car and the rest of the meals came from our own supply.

Unfortunately, a gentleman in the compartment next to us got very ill on the train ride. We had visited with him the first night, a very friendly guy from Australia who had finished a teaching job in China. As we passed through one of the small towns and made a quick stop two medical people came on board to check on him. Then at the next city five medical people were waiting and checked on him again. It was decided he could travel on to the next big city. There, three people were waiting and Bruce and his wife got off. It seemed like he was getting good attention but some things were lacking such as having a wheelchair for him. He made his way off the train and then there was no place for him to sit and there was a long walk ahead of him. I hope he is doing okay.

A couple of observations . . . There are many smokers in Russia! Once a building is not being used it doesn't seem to get torn down. We saw many shells of buildings or in various stages of falling down. All for now.

Hi Beth:
Barbara & I have been enjoying your Postings. Glad you had a good train ride into Moscow.
All is well here. Vance & Barbara
How do the everyday people dress there? Do women in the train towns wear dresses? Is it hot there?
Your writing in interesting. I appreciate the amount of time it takes to write a long blog like yours. It is hard to balance emailing and sight seeing time. Byrna
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