Wednesday 17 April. We left Novosibirsk late last night on the Rossiya train bound for Yekaterinburg. We will be on the train for only about 20 hours this time, and a large chunk of that period was spent sleeping overnight. We are getting more used to the noises and gyrations of the train as it rockets along at a sedate 80km/hr or so. The railway line is a freight line primarily, and passenger trains need to fit in with the slower speeds that freight trains maintain. It’s all about energy efficiency, and reducing track wear and tear, which dictate such slow speeds for freight trains.
Before leaving, we waiting in the very large and very elegant 1890s Novosibirsk Railway Station. I guess the ‘hammer and sickle’ vent grilles were later additions. I was disappointed that the chandeliers did not fully light up, but they were still impressive.
The day has turned cloudy, and it looks to be quite cold outside. Of course, in the carriage it is toasty warm – short pants weather.
The towns and villages we pass by seem to be somewhat more prosperous, but it’s all about degrees of poverty. It’s probably the distribution of wealth that is the problem. In the cities, there is no shortage of large, modern, expensive European and American sedans and SUVs, often parked in places that show an obvious disregard for others – like on footpaths, on intersections and across pedestrian crossings.
On this train trip, we have met our third ‘Provodnitsa’ or Female Carriage Attendant. We don’t know her name, but she is by far the most friendly and helpful of the three. She is large and jolly, and she speaks a little English (rather than the one Russian word we have come to know quite well – nyet!).
It has started snowing outside, so maybe this signals a return to colder weather for us. We have been exceptionally lucky so far, with the weather being mainly fine and sunny, especially when we have been staying in and walking around the cities along the way.
When we boarded last night, I detected that the boarding couple in the next compartment spoke English, and after a few more words were exchanged, I discovered they were Australian. The only English speaking foreigners we have met anywhere on the trip, and they are Australians! I have a bet with Garry that they will be from Brisbane or the Gold Coast. We shall see. (I lost – they are from south west Western Australia.)
For lunch today, we have both ordered Grilled Chicken Breast Fillet, and the obligatory Chicken Noodle Soup. The lady who took the order indicated it would arrive at 2.00pm. That’s 2 hours and 15 minutes away. As Homer Simpson would say ‘But I’m hungry now!’ I may have to raid some of our stash of snack items.
Luckily, lunch as ordered, came at 1.00pm, and I was saved. We then prepared ourselves for arrival at Yekaterinburg soon after 5.00pm.