The Trans-Siberian Railroad
Forget about sleep. The noise and motion of the train as well of the snoring of my roommate and the noises from the adjoining cabins precluded any rest. The welcome glass of tea was little help. The hearty breakfast included options, among which wee yogurt, sausage, cheese, fresh bananas or apples, eggs and bacon that was more like ham and wonderful hearty bread or crepes with sugary jams. The scenery was magnificent, lush forests, wide rivers and small villages with gardens and greenhouses. Midmorning the train halted for the day in Khabarovsk, the second largest city in the Russian Far East. The city was founded in the mid-1800’s by the Cossacks as a military observation post. The city is only 80 kilometers from China. The mighty Amur River runs through the city and is frozen over in winter enabling the citizens to walk across to their dachas. The last defining battle of the Russian Civil War was fought near the city in 1922. Monuments to the fallen soldiers dominated the city squares, the most notable being the one to the fallen soldiers of World War II, in which the Russians suffered three times more casualties than the U.S. The return to the clacking train was welcomed with either warm champagne or vodka. We rolled on through Siberia.