Overnight Train…to Moscow

20 Sep

On the train to Moscow from St. Petersburg.

It’s an overnight train. Cramped.

No doors.

Six people per compartment area.

Two Russian women slept last night in the corridor area. I just woke. No coffee. My brain feels fuzzy. I do not want to talk, so I powered up my lap top. Going to try and write.

We are about 30 mins outside of Moscow. The air in the train is thick. Smells like humans. Smells like socks. It’s cold outside. We try and pry open the window. We no longer care about the cold. We need circulation. I give it 4 mins, and we will be freezing.

The St. Petersburg to Moscow train ride. Brilliant. Loved it. No, I did not sleep at all – but that was not the purpose. I woke every 20 minutes or hour – it was all the same thing to me. The beds are stacked to six a compartment. But, let me describe compartment. No doors. Four bunks on one side of the train and two on other. The hall way or walk way or the place where people bang your feet in the middle night divides the bunks. The train people give you 2 sheets and pillow. I’m impressed for this is third class. Scored a pillow.

I can tell the Russian women want to talk again…start being chatty but I’m keeping my head down. I talked last night. There’s a young, friendly Russian woman who shared space with us last night. She slept in the hallway bunk. Her name is Marget. Lives in Moscow. She is in her third year at University, studying marketing. She has taken, from what I can gather, two years of English at university. She wanted to practice her English. But, just as importantly, she is very interested in us – us foreigners. I mean sleeping only two feet away from her is a South African, a Brit, Canadian living in Saudi and a chick from Florida. Sounds fascinating. Well, hell, it is. I’m fascinated by it.

Last night, Margret and I talked for a few hours. She tried very, very hard to talk about her life in Moscow. But, she was at lost for words. She talked about her friend’s wedding in St. Petersburg. She the special friend for she wore a sash. Her dress was pink and white. The brides dress was gray. I can only assume she wanted to say “off white” because I can’t imagine a brides dress being gray. There was 30 people at the ceremony and afterward, they drove all around St. Petersburg taking pictures at historical sites. This is traditional – for the bride and groom to go to parks, museums, historical areas to take pictures.

It’s hysterical. Yesterday in St. Petersburg, we saw no more than 12 wedding couples posing at random places. Regardless, the Russians LOVE taking pictures. Especially the women. The pose like mail order brides or for some lower grade Maximum mag. I went to Swan Lake ballet and before it began, a group of young Russian women were striking sexy poses in front of the orchestra, balconies, aisle, stage… I wanted to take a picture of them taking pictures. Generally speaking, American woman loath having their picture taken in front of strangers…

Back to Russian Margret and the train… She talked about the wedding party – drinking wine, dancing, eating a bread cake and ending it with drinking vodka. Money is given as a gift. I think it goes tot he “baby” fund. I truly did not understand. She said something about mother of the bride is not invited to the ceremony, only the party. I hope that is not right…

OK… Some dude with dreads just walked up to me and said in broken English. “You charge my phone with your computer. It needs work.” I just stared at him and grunted. I’ve channeled “bad ass” Russian or “bad attitude” back packer girl. I just stared at him. He hands me his phone and walks off. I’m sorry, but who are you? I found out later he was in St. Petersburg for a techno-break dancing competition.

OK. People are moving. Air is thickening. People are in line for the restroom. My roomie, Maria, bought sparkling water. I hate water with bubbles. Who drinks this stuff, let alone early in the morning. I’m surprised it does not smell around here.

Getting on the bus last night was a mini event for our group of 16. They arrived loaded with backpacks on their back. Leaning over. Looking haggard. Some, even sporting backs on their chest. I’ve opted for a roller backpack. Seriously, trying to stay away from the back thing as long as possible. Pat and I – who is 75 – have the two roll aways. Majority of people are a few years out of college or just shy of 28 – before or after. They are the Young Bucks. That’s cool.

The day before, Emily and Hannaha from Sweden and Maria from Canada walked St. Petersburg from 10 am to 8 pm – so my legs had those tired cramps as did my feet. The Hermitage art gallery was first on our list. It was the former Winter Palace of Peter the Great and, I believe, Catherine the Great did some architectural upgrades to the place. Catherine needed it bigger and better. The art was amazing but the rooms were magnificent. I just imagined living here in the 1700’s – tooling around a palace the size of – well two or five blocks.

The four of us are good museum-ers because we continued to move. We stopped at the bits where other tour guides stopped and pretended like we are learning something. We stopped at a Peacock golden statute made into a clock. The English translation said the clock worked. It said the Peacock did something special at the top of the hour. We waited. People gathered. Russians peered over my shoulder. I was standing up front. Some woman tapped me on the shoulder to move. I turned side ways. Not moving sister. And, the Peacock clock is not moving either – nothing happened.

After the Hermitage, we trotted over to a church, the St. Isaacs. We screwed up because we bought tickets to the museum instead of to the colonnade. The colonnade takes you to the top of the church for an amazing view of St. Petersburg. We tried to return our tickets for we just wrapped up the Hermitage – THE museum of all times. The bitter ticket lady, said “no return.” We paid an extra $3 to climb to the top of St. Isaac’s. I will post some of the photos. It gives you a very good, bird-eye view of the city. We have the museum tickets, so we went inside. It was a beautiful Orthodox church. I believe someone important was murdered here. Impressive. No chairs. The Russian Orthodox did not believe in chairs. They believed in suffering. Some services lasted 5 to 8 hours. Talk about back problems.

From St Isaacs, we trotted over to another church. We called it the onion church. The architecture is Russian in that when I think of Russian buildings, I think of this. As we walked around the church, we saw four to five brides and wedding parties taking pouty pictures. We joined in on the fun. I took pictures to.

From there, we walked over to Peter and Paul’s fortress on the river. St. Petersburg is built on canals – or swamp land. It’s am amazing fortress. We took pictures and froze. By this point, we are hungry. I mean starving. My new Russian friend, Nicoli, told me about the fast food Russian restaurant – serves pancakes. He said the food is good. Inexpensive. And, all I have to remember is the name is in red and starts with the letter “T.” We found one! They even have an English menu. I ordered pancake with cheese, pork, cream and green leaves. It was heavenly. We inhaled.

After lunch/snack, we sauntered back through the city. Meaning, we walked for another 4 miles or so. We met the group and then loaded ourselves up on the train… This blog just came full circle.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

One Response to “Overnight Train…to Moscow”

  1. MaryStuart 24/09/2010 at 11:14 pm #

    i love your bride photos. too funny!! ok dont get mean like them. teach them that Americans are nice people! just think, you may be the only American that some of them ever meet. so, represent us well! Ha! love you sister!