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Boarding the Trans-Siberia Express
Our taxi duly turned up on time. The Russians seem to be really good at this punctuality thing. So far, every connection has worked out like clockwork, and this short trip is no exception.
Our taxi navigates the crowded ring road again and drops us to the two stations at Yaroslavsky Rail Terminal which are quite close together. Here we are met by a guide who navigates us to the right station and the right platform. He then describes the procedure we need for when the train will arrive:
"The train is Number Two and will come into Platform 4,3 or 2, which is round the corner. The track will be shown on that board over there" - he points to a rather antiquainted board with some 1970's electronic typeface on it. "Once again, here are the tracks and there is the board. You need train No 2".
"Okay! We get it!"
We had to wait about an hour for the train to show up and it was still very hot. We got ourselves some drinks and a sandwich from a cafe that rather resembled Greggs, and then waited by the indicator board. Whilst there, waitig amongst other travellers waiting for their connections, we were entertained by some scaffolders who were dismantling some rickety looking rig, just where some passangers were due to board a train. Also, they seemed oblivious to two colleagues stranded on the flat roof.
Eventually, our train "Poccha" (or "Rossiya" in English) reversed in and we strode up the platform to find our coach and home for the next nine days. We were showed into our cabin, rather more spacious than the Berlin train, and stowed our bags. I got out my camera and started to take some photos and then some martial music started playing over the tannoy and we were off! Only a mere 6,000 miles to go!
I took a video clip of the departure whilst we watched Moscow retreat into the distance, the sun disappearing somewhere over Smolensk. After an hour, we found a couple of beers tat we liked - Miller of all things - and settled down to watch the fading light and talk over family reminiececes. And then, our first stop - Vladimir - which we think is Gorki but in actual fact is Vladimir! some 210 kms done already!
I descended off the train and got talking to Professor Yevgeny Mogilevkin of the Vladivostok Institute of Social Studies. We chatted about academic life and how the toilet system worked on the train - no chemical toilet here, just straight onto the track - so the toilets are locked whilst we are in or approaching a station.
After returning to our cabin, I dropped off to sleep fairly easily, the first test of sleeping on someone's sofa whilst travelling at around 70 - 80 mph!