“For some people the thought of spending close to 100 hours in a confined space is daunting. But having done the ‘Trans Sib’ (as it is affectionately known) 7 times already, I can assure you this is not a reason to stay at home. In fact, the 3-night journey between Ulan Ude and Kungur seems to fly by, and that’s Intrepid’s longest stretch on the train. I would plan to update my journal or catch up on sleep and reading, but that never happened because I simply didn’t have time!
At stops there are babushkas (a name for older local women that actually means grandmother) selling home-cooked food like pirozhki (pies), vareniki (dumplings), chicken, potatoes, smoked fish etc. They also sell fruit, freshly plucked berries of all kinds, and ice cream of course, a steady factor in the Russian diet. Going out onto the platform and looking for food is like a game. The most hardened traveller will squeal like an excited child when he/she has found something delicious.
If you do feel the need to break the on-board journey, you can go to the dining car. The food is usually average and a little overpriced, but here you are bound to meet the most friendly locals, who will (try to) persuade you to indulge in a vodka drinking session with them.
A group of English speaking travellers usually attracts the attention of the local kids and adults, who often join us for a sign-language conversation, spontaneous English and Russian lessons or a game of cards.
So, if you want to brush up your card playing skills, meet new friends, enjoy new and delicious things to eat, or just hang out, the iconic Trans Sib journey is waiting for you!”
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* photo by Jacqueline Roesler – Intrepid Photography Competition