The train out of Vladivostok

Previous page - Sightseeing in Vladivostok, part 2

 

Boarding the train in Vladivostok

As with everything Russian, the train journey began with a memorable experience but ours wasn't memorable in a good way. It began with a terrible, frightening episode.

We arrived on the platform with plenty of time to spare. It seemed a few other passengers were boarding their carriages but ours looked closed. We approached the Provodnitza (attendant) of the carriage next to ours. She was standing outdoors, next to her carriage. With my best gestures I asked if we could board our carriage. She said yes and then I mentioned to her in my best Russian that the carriage door was shut. She indicated for us to knock on it. We went to our carriage door and knocked. A young lady with rollers in her hair came out to see who was creating the commotion. We indicated we were very cold and she let us in. With her hair in rollers she obviously wasn't really ready to let "her" passengers into "her" carriage. She asked for our tickets and we happily handed over a pouch with the two tickets in it.

 

She kept the pouch and then lead us to our compartment. She headed off and we gazed around with disappointment at the decor of our carriage. We had been expecting a richly decorated carriage as we had seen in other folks photos of the Rossiya train. This is Russia's top class train and we are travelling first class but our carriage looked like a poor cousin of what we had expected. Where were all the beautiful brightly coloured furnishings? This carriage of ours was plain to say the least. But what can you do? I suppose they must use a variety of carriages of various d├ęcor and we drew the short straw.

Added later:

Seems we were in the newer Rossiya carriages. The older ones are the highly decorated ones. The seats/beds in the newer carriages are supposedly softer than those in the old carriages. Hmmm!

Engine of the Rossiya train Engine of the Rossiya train
The Rossiya spelled in Russian The letters spell Rossiya in Russian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I've been digressing. Before we had unzipped our luggage the Provodnitza was back in our compartment and she was indicating there was a major problem with our tickets. She spoke no English but we felt she was indicating we had only one ticket. She was quite concerned herself and she shot off to find help from a higher authority. Minutes later she was back accompanied by a male employee who was dressed very officially, complete with his cap and badges. He took a look at the tickets she presented to him and he confirmed there was only one berth booked. He handed them back to us to look at. Sure enough there was only one ticket for Vladivostok to Ulan Ude. We looked at each other aghast. We tried to say we had bought the tickets from a travel agency online and that we really believed we had two tickets. We certainly had paid for two tickets. Neither of them seemed to understand us when we asked what we should do. It was indicated that we quickly go to the Cassa which is the ticket office. We asked which Cassa. None of the ticket clerks speak English. We needed to buy another ticket if we were to be travelling on that train that night.

 

Buying another train ticket in a hurry

Can you imagine us asking someone who doesn't speak English for a ticket on a train that was leaving in half an hour. Especially when it had to be for a seat in the compartment which matched up with the existing ONE ticket that we had. Panic, panic, panic !!!! The kindly Provodnitza indicated we should leave our baggage with her whilst we raced up the steps, over a bridge and back down the steps again to a Cassa inside the building. It was difficult enough buying tickets even with the help of the Russian-speaking American girl who helped us a couple of days ago. There are lots of Cassas. How would we choose which one to approach? We knew we would never manage the task, especially with only half an hour in which to do it. Nevertheless, we put our bubby rucksacks on our backs, left the big ones on the train with her and we started running. We were way down the platform and approaching the steps when, between breaths, Ian said "What if the train leaves without us and our luggage is left onboard?" We knew we dare not think of that scenario. Half way up the three flights of steps we heard the Provodnitza yelling for us and gesturing for us to come back. When we did, she showed us the missing ticket. She indicated it had slid under other paperwork she had at hand on her table. Never were there two more relieved people than Ian and I.

The Provodnitsa who narely gave us heart attacks The Provodnitza who, in the end, was so nice to us

 

We knew darned well we had two tickets to start with but it wasn't the sort of thing you can argue about when you barely speak Russian. All our thoughts were concentrated on how we could manage to buy a replacement in hurry. Hang the added expense. We would have sorted that out when we got home.

We tried to calm ourselves down. It was quite warm in the carriage and we were even hotter after our scary experience.



The Rossiya leaves the platform

We managed to store our big rucksacks under the seats and we placed the two smaller ones on hooks in the compartment. It was 10:20 p.m. and time for the train to pull away from the station when we heard official music playing to celebrate the occasion. Other trains which had left prior to ours never received the musical "Goodbye". The Rossiya obviously is a special train.

Oh how we wished it was daylight! We would have enjoyed seeing parts of Vladivostok that we hadn't been able to access on foot. It was turned 11 p.m. when we decided to bed down for the night.


Beds on the Rossiya train

When we got on the train the beds had already been pulled down. A more accurate description would be that the seat backs had been pulled down to make a supported mattress. The mattress was covered by a thin material cover. Two large pillows were evident as was a large sheet thingee resembling a 6' long fabric envelope with a gap up one of the short ends. The other three sides were sewn up. We wondered how on earth we were going to sleep with just one sheet. A blanket was visible above the doorway in a recessed compartment.

Were we meant to sleep inside "the envelope"? As said previously, these material envelopes were about 6' long. The width was closer to 4'. The gap up the end indicated to us that we should be sleeping right inside the "envelope". We managed to just get ourselves down inside the envelope with our heads poking out the top. The opening was only about 18 inches wide so we both puzzled as to how a fat person could get inside them.

Our beds are made up Our beds are made up
The complimentary paper slippers The complimentary paper slippers given to us onboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wondered what sort of night's sleep lay ahead of us.......

 

Next page - Life on the Rossiya train

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Our trip in the order it happened:


Travel Planning Necessities
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HostelWorld.Com
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Trip Advisor Forum - Russia
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Getting A Russian Visa
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Trains between Moscow & Saint Petersburg
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Moscow Times Newspaper
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The Russia Club
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Russian Rail Timetable
It takes a bit of mastering but Ian managed it (eventually).

The Art Of Travel
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Smart Traveller
Australian Government's site dealing with current travel advice.

Travel Independent
A site written by travellers for travellers. Lots of information.

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