After discovering at my expense the odd custom of “Moscow time”, on which all times showing on tickets, stations etc are based, and therefore waited at the station for 4 hours in the middle of the night, I am finally boarding the Transiberian.
I’m sharing the 4 berth compartment with 3 lovely Russian ladies. Nina, Natasha and Marina. Nina says I’m thin, so she’s endeavoured to make me eat every couple of hours.
I don’t speak Russian. They don’t speak English. And yet, thanks to google translate, we’ve managed to discuss about real estate, our families, homes, our countries’ infrastructures, and even politics (trust me on that one). We shared all our pictures.
At lunchtime. As you do.
Marina insists that we need 3 shots each. It’s custom.
I wouldn’t want to offend.
When I left the compartment they were singing Russian songs. More of this later. I promise.
I am now joining a group of Italians I met yesterday in the next carriage: Salvina and husband Sossio, Mario & Giuseppe.
I said hello and they swallowed me into their light discussion about human kind suffering and what we can do about it. And should we do something about it. Mario thinks not.
And there we go for some Russian beer.
That was day 2. We were just warming up.
I feel like I’m living the Eurovision.
Day 3 we have a routine. Sharing breakfast, read, chat, explore the stations where we stop for more than 15mn. Making sure we’re back on time. Unlike that couple I saw screaming & running after our leaving train in Irkutsk.
The landscape is gradually changing from woods & forests to countryside, villages & factories. There would have been some nice shots to take of bucolic villages along winding rivers, but could only spot them through the trees and impossible to capture on a moving train.
A lot of reading time for me. A lot of thinking time.
I’m now connecting with people in a shorter lapse of time. This trip is teaching me that every moment not given to someone with full attention is a missed opportunity to connect.
Comes the last eve on the Transiberian.
We gather in the restaurant carriage to eat & drink vodka. Sneaking in some of our own, and being then later blatantly discovered, and the vodka duly confiscated, by the waitress with no explanatory words. 😁😱😂
The Russian ladies started to sing at 6pm, we tried some comeback with Italian songs but really couldn’t compete.
Results as per below…
Nina even tried to teach us the most popular one
On my way to sleep the Italians gave me a spiritual booklet with personal notes written on it as a present. I’m very touched.
It’s been great to meet them, we had good meaningful chats.
24/08 we arrive in Moscow. The last 30mn we sat around the table looking at each other and kept thanking each other for the time we spent together. Exchanging our contact details.
We all hugged and took group pictures on the platform.
It’s been only 3 days but sharing our lives, stories and ideas (and copious amount of food) for even that short amount of time was a profound experience.
Just when I thought I can’t do anymore goodbyes, I’m learning to let go, remembering & cherishing the shared moments. Gifts from life. I feel blessed and lucky.