More on the Trans-Siberian Railroad

More on the Trans-Siberian Railroad

I stepped off the plane to the smell of woodsmoke, a good sign.  I had been flying forever from Houston to Frankfort to Moscow and across all of Russia to Vladivostock.  After a welcome bed, I toured the city, once a closed port and the home of the Russian Navy.  The casino at the hotel was busy with Korean, Chinese and Japanese gamblers.  The guide at the Natural History Museum was knowledgeable and I learned that Yul Brunner was a native of Vladivostock and that the Chinese were sneaky.  But it was the next day that I had been anticipating – my introduction to the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the train that was to be my home for many days.  A welcome shot of vodka as I boarded the train was a bit early in the day for me.  I was escorted dragging my suitcase to a small cubicle, a very small cubicle with a plywood slat and thin mattress for a bed.  Along the corridor I heard comments.  “You must be kidding.  Where is the bathroom?  What should I do with my suitcase?”  The planned trip was a tourist train destined to travel the expanse of Russia with an excursion into Mongolia and Ulan Bator and on to St. Petersburg, a distance of over 10,000 kilometers and the equivalent of going across America and back and halfway back again.  I could see this was not a trip for sissies.