Expecting to board my first overnight train with my new found friends, I was somewhat put out to find that I was on the half an hour earlier train…by myself. Fortunately their guide was kind enough to let me join their transfer to the station and to take me to the relevant carriage, but after that I was on my own!
First time in an overnight train, not sure how anything worked, where anything was or what etiquette is appropriate in these sort of situations. I was later to find out though, that it was an express train and one of the more plush varieties!
I boarded at midnight and found my four berth carriage, which I was to share with two Russian business men. One guy resembled Eastenders’ Phil Mitchell (pre crack habit) and the other reminiscent of a mate of my dad’s. I sat in the middle of the bottom bunk and they sat either side of me on the opposite bunk. No-one spoke English (except me) and my Russian extended at that point to “Yes” and “No” (and has only extended to “Thank you” (Spasiba) and “Cheers” (Nostrovia…sort of) since!)
To say it was the most awkward social situation I have ever encountered would be something of an understatement. One guy (dad’s mate look a like), declared in broken English that it was his dream to go to London and I felt suitably humbled on my extended jolly.
We soon then established we couldn’t understand each other and after exchanging several awkward smiles, they helped me to store my kit bag and then both offered in a charades/mime kind of way to leave while I got changed, very polite. I declined and went of in search of the bathroom and a secret giggle – not sure who was the more uncomfortable!
Toilet was grim, but adequate and found the hot water tap in case I fancied a cup of tea, then went back to my cabin. Lights out, door locked and tried to go to sleep.
Slept in all my clothes (not for the last time!) with my rucksack under my bed, day pack under my duvet and trusty North Face vest under the pillow!
Woke up fine and dandy after a surprisingly good night’s sleep, arrived in Moscow at 8am and felt ready to tackle the taxi touts to get me to the hostel (as wasn’t quite ready to brave the Metro at rush hour, with baggage and language barrier!).
No photos of my fellow cabin mates as it was just weird enough without!!!