From Brussels - Moscow via train
22.10.2005 - 24.10.2005
I board my train from Brussels North station to Moscow, and appear to be the only one that boards the train. I learn later that I am not alone, there are at least 3 other people on the train with me: a Russian man travelling alone who doesn't speak English and spends his time reading along in his cabin and a British father and son named Bill and Mark.
Bill and Mark, the two English speakers on my 3 other person train
I am assigned a cabin that has three bunks in it, but because our train car has a total of 4 guests in it and probably around 15 cabins, I get the place to myself.
My cabin in sitting configuration
My cabin in sleeping configuration. If there were more people in my cabin, there would have been two beds above my head.
There are two attendants on the train, neither of which speaks very good English. I never got their names, but I took to calling the larger one Ollie and the smaller one Stan. Another fine mess they got me into! Because I boarded the train in Brussels, I spent the first two hours speaking to Stan in French, even though he didn't understand that either. Finally I gave up and started speaking in English. At least I understood that.
Around 8 o'clock at night, after we has passed into Germany, Bill and Mark (the brits) asked me if I wanted to join them for dinner. So we were off to find the dinner car. Stan stopped us before leaving, and asked (so we figured) where we were going. "Dinner, restaurant," we replied.
"Nyet, nyet. No restaurant." Dejected, we sulked back to our rooms. Later, I asked Ollie about restaurant, and he pointed to the front of the train. I walked the length of the train, but didn't come across a restaurant or snack bar at all. I asked the attendant in the first car, and he said that it would be attached after Dusseldorf, which we wouldn't reach until early in the morning. I had 5 butter cookies for dinner, and went to bed.
We passed Frankfurt at 4 am (I know because we passed Germany and Polish customs there), and the next morning I woke in Warsaw expecting a hardy breakfast. Bill came by with a long face, "no dinner car until after Brest," he reported. That would mean no food until 6 in the evening! I debated about getting some hot water and cooking up some noodles, but decided on a breakfast of 3 butter cookies and a 1.5 L bottle of water instead.
At noon on Sunday we arrived at Terespol, Poland, and cleared Belrusian and Russian customs. Originally I was given a form in Cyrillic, of which I figured out the first two questions were "entry, exit or transit?" and "name?" Beyond that, though, I was at a loss. I stared at the form for 15 minutes until Ollie came running breathlessly into my cabin. "Anglisk," he said, and handed me the form in English. Disaster (and possibly jail) adverted!
We pass Brest, where the wheels were changed, and then a new set of cars were hooked on to us. All throughout the voyage new cars were being hooked on and off. Forget Rasputin as Russia's greatest love machine. In fact, with all the coupling and decoupling wagon 137 on the Brussels-Moscow route was doing, it is Russia's greatest love machine.
After pulling out from Brest, Bill, Mark and I set out down the train and found our meal car. I had a hearty meal of salad (with fresh veggies!) and steak, and two ice cold Russian beers to wash it down.
At 9:30pm, we come to Minsk, the last stop that I will be awake for before the morning. Rochelle Rochelle's erotic journey may have ended in Minsk, but mine is just starting. I went to sleep full, knowing that when I next awoke - RUSSIA!
Rochelle Rochelle's erotic journey ended here in Minsk. My journey is just getting started, though it is less erotic.