Russia and Siberia Revisited.
It was raining here the other day—steadily throughout the day— and I took the opportunity to rummage through some of the photos I’ve taken on past trips. Without doubt, my most memorable travel experience was by private train from Moscow to Mongolia and on to Beijing. I always enjoy looking through those photos although, regrettably, I never labeled them at the time and so have no idea in which town or city some of them were taken. Anyway, I thought these few might be of interest.
Before leaving Moscow, we were all treated to a ride on their Metro. It is nothing short of astonishing. First, for how far underground it is and, second, for how beautiful the various stations are. This one is near Red Square and, although not visible from this shot, there are sculptures everywhere—most of very stern looking soldiers, male and female, carrying submachine guns.
Of course, all the signs are in Russian only, which means the Cyrillic alphabet, thus making them unintelligible to most of us. That includes street signs, signs on store fronts, and in the railroad stations. If you’re taking the train in Russia, you had damn well better know either the train number or the time of departure. Better yet, both.
These were my accommodations for 10 days from Moscow across Siberia to Mongolia. Looks posh, doesn’t it? But everything was fixed in place. At night, my bed was made up right on top of the upholstered seat and was quite narrow. Every morning at 7:00 sharp, loud marshall music was played over the P.A. system. Breakfast was served ten minutes later. You snooze, you lose.
This guy—he’s in the wheelchair—was one of several people in the English speaking group from Sweden. In the U.S., we take for granted how pretty much everything is “wheelchair accessible”. That concept hasn’t reached Russia yet, let alone Siberia. Here he’s faced with 50-some steps at the top of which was a 200-yard-long pedestrian bridge, then another 50-some steps down to the platform where our train was waiting. Several of us pitched in and helped him through all these obstacles — and we encountered several almost every day.
The food was OK. Not great, but OK. Somewhere back there in the kitchen was a chef in love with dill. It was on or in almost everything. By U.S. standards, the portions were small. (That is NOT a criticism, by the way.) There was no choice, either. Today dinner is chicken, yesterday it was a little fish staring back up at me. Dill on both.