4 days riding the Transsiberian express through Russia into Siberia-Irkutsk. Read about how we covered 4500km during an 3 day and 11,5 hours train ride.
A visit to Russia is not complete without a train ride on the Transsiberian express. Train rides in Russia are of a different scale then in the rest of the world, the complete Transsiberian express covers an astonishing 9289 km and takes 8 days in which it goes through 8 different time zones.
Since we only have a 30 day visa for Russia we didn’t have time to do the complete route from Moscow to Vladivostok. Since lake Baikal was high up on the list of must visits we decided to take a direct train from Moscow to Irkutsk. This part “only” covers 4500 km and takes 3 days, 11 hours and 32 minutes in which we go through 5 time zones.
The idea of an 3 days, 11 hours and 32 minutes covering 4500km will make most people a bit nervous. To be honest a very small part of us shared this feeling: What where we supposed to do during all this time? Do we have enough food? Is there a charging socket? Will there be fat smelly passengers? All of this disappeared as soon as we boarded to train.
Day 1: Boarding, roommates & Vodka
We boarded the train at 13:30 where we went to our coupe. We chose for the 2nd class option which means a 4 person coupe. 4 beds in room the size of a post stamp. Soon we got to meet our “roommates” for the first 3 days of the journey. A lovely couple from a city called Krasnoyarsk, Vadim and Natalia. Vadim used to be a pilot during the USSR, but now works together with his wife Natalia for the Russian railways. As their English was as good as our Russian, communication was a bit of challenge. But a combination of broken English, Google translate and a few words of Russian I picked up during a language course meant we could talk about everything! (Also we had all the time in the world to explain stuff).
We read a lot about the hospitality of Russians on the train and it was not long before they shared their food and Vodka with us. As we found out it is a Russian custom to do everything in uneven numbers. So after finished some uneven numbers of Vodka everyone felt pretty sleepy and the first day came to an end!
Day 2: Books, views, restaurant.
Waking up at 11:00 in the morning we though we slept for almost 10 hours straight only to find out that we passed two time zones! As the train stops regularly for 30 minutes we got out for a short morning walk and some stretching.
The fresh air during this morning “walk” woke us up and it was time for breakfast! We brought some eggs, croissants and coffee which made up for a pretty luxurious breakfast. The rest of the afternoon we spend reading books, listing music, looking outside at the vast landscape of Russia and talking to our room mates. Since hot water is the only thing that is available in every wagon, meaning that the only real dinner we could make is noodles.
After our luxurious dinner we decided to walk through the train a bit and see what the restaurant wagon looks like. This is a basic “restaurant” including a real kitchen and a bar. Since we already enjoyed a 5 star dinner we decided to go for some beers.
Coming back to the coupe we watched a movie and decided to get some sleep! Second day passed pretty fast.
Day 3: Birthday.
Waking up knowing I turned 30, I quickly went outside for some fresh air. When I came back Elisa prepared a little present and a real birthday cake.
I enjoyed my birthday cake and we made some breakfast. After that we did some more reading and since we passed another two time zones it was time for dinner pretty quickly. During the whole trip we could choose one included meal. So we decided to choose the meal as a birthday dinner. Which turned out the be like a bad soggy airplane meal. Anyway, we don’t recommend eating this since we spend quiet some time on the toilet during the next days!
A birthday needs to be celebrated, therefore we brought Vodka! That evening we turned our coupe into a party coupe and had quite some uneven numbers of Vodka. Vadim and Natalia even got me a birthday present during one of the stops! The Vodka made communication a lot easier and we spend the rest of the evening talking about our lives, family and whatever came up. Coming to conclusion that even more then 5000Km from home people are the same and our lives are not that very different. On that note it was time for bed!
Day 4: The last stretch.
Waking up with the aftertaste of some Vodka we said goodbye to Vadim and Natalia! The last day was perhaps the most lazy/relaxing one. Knowing that we would arrive the day after time passed fast while we binge watched a season of The Grand Tour.
So was it boring? Not a single minute, happy to get of the train? Yes, but without a moment of boredome.
Usually when you take the train is just a means of transport. Getting as fast from A to B as possible. Wanting to get to the end station as fast as possible to make the most of the day. But the trans siberian train is anything but that, knowing that we will be on the train for 3-4 days made us relaxed. The end destination will be there when we get there.
Spending time in the main cities like St. Petersburg and Moscow is really nice but doesn’t give you an idea of the sheer size of Russia. This train definitely does! If you ever visit Russia jump on this train, relax and bring some books, vodka and enjoy Russia.
So that was our blog: 4 days riding the Transsiberian express. Our next blog post will feature the visit to the stunning Baikal lake.
Check out our route page to see our current position on the map!