Night Train to Moscow
From my travel journal:
June 18, 2003
Night Train from St. Petersburg to Moscow
The adventure begins. I’m sitting in „deluxe“ compartment 13/14 of train 19 at Moskovskii Voksal of St. Petersburg, bound for Moscow. The compartment is done in red. The bedspreads and table napkins as well as the backrests are a soft, velvety burgundy with salmon-colored stitched dots.
There are mirrors and even clothes hangers. On the opposite platform I see the Smena train departing. It goes to Moscow as well. It’s supposed to be a fancy train, a ticket for it would have cost three times the amount we paid.
A baby is crying in the next compartment. Outside, I hear a never-changing female voice making announcements, accompanied by piano music. I actually understood the announcement for our train and we walked to the platform (number 6, pravaya).
The train is as long as a freight train. Deep red in color, bulky-looking like a set of broad Russian shoulders. A fire crackles beneath the samovar at the end of our wagon. My stomach is in a state of mild uproar. It must be the excitement. It’s 11 pm, daylight, because of the White Nights.
»Don’t we need adventures like this, difficulties to overcome, confusing directions to unknown places in a strange town?«
I’m sitting on my cot, #14, leaning on the table with one elbow. I’m nervous. But don’t we need adventures like this, difficulties to overcome, confusing directions to unknown places in a strange town? It helps us stay sharp. If everything was already arranged and figured out, where would be the achievement?
I must trust: planes, metros, long-distance night trains, mini vans with no seat belts, three solid doors with five locks to not bury me in case something happens… and my own two feet.
Someone in the hallway is speaking English. I want to run outside and start talking to them. The train just lurched forward. The journey begins. I smile at a conductor standing in her blue costume in the open door of a train opposite. She is surprised and almost smiles back.