After our brief stop in Yekaterinburg, enough to recharge our batteries, we were soon on the move again. This time it was the longest leg, 56 hours non stop through Siberia to Irkutsk.
Armed with armfuls of supplies, we boarded the train. The most obvious difference from the first train was the age – this one was noticeably older. If anything though I preferred this, with the slightly kitsch decor – it was more what I had expected from Russian trains. It was still very clean which is the main thing.
We found our cabin and were soon joined by a friendly French guy. Surprisingly there was a spare bed in the cabin and it stayed this way for the entire journey – the perils or benefits (depending which way you look at it) of travelling in low season.
I’d be lying if I said the journey flew by, but it didn’t drag either. It’s just so easy to pass the time on the trains – it’s mesmerising to simply admire the view, before you know it half an hour has passed! Add to this time to read, chat to our cabin mate and watch films, and it soon passes.
We received meals on this train which was a nice relief from instant noodles. Generally it consisted of a bottle of water, some soup (a variation on Borscht or some gherkin soup), fish/chicken/beef with mash or rice and a piddly selection of vegetables and some biscuits or a chocolate bar. It was hardly haute cuisine but it was nice to have something nourishing.
I was disappointed at the lack of sellers at station stops, from reading guides I was expecting babushkas selling smoked fish, meat, bread and beer but there was none of this, just the occasional station kiosk selling overpriced drinks and crisps. It’s probably all down to the low season, which was also the reason the train and hostels were half empty!
After 2 nights we finally reached Irkutsk at around 9pm, well over half way through our Trans Siberian adventure, and looking forward to a shower!