For previous instalments of my journey, follow this link.
Yekaterinburg was a bit of a strange one. I stopped there mostly just to break up the journey to Moscow, as opposed to actually really wanting to visit the place.
I actually toyed with the idea of being incredibly lazy and just spending my day in the city lounging around watching movies and playing Football Manager, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it in the end. With less than a month left on the road, it just didn’t feel right to be wasting days.
Although there didn’t appear to be too much in Yekaterinburg, it seemed there was enough to burn a few hours. This was made even more appealing by the fact that the city actually had one of the simplest yet most effective tourism systems that I’ve ever seen.
Essentially whenever you see a red line on the pavement – you are on the tourist trail of Yekaterinburg. That’s it. Starting on Lenin Avenue, the red line does a loop around the city taking you to all the main tourist attractions which all also have QR codes, so you can read up on the monument. I followed the line for a little while, taking in the ‘Church on the Blood’ – a church erected on the site of Tsar Nicholas II’s assassination as well as just wandering aimlessly for a bit. I’m good at that.
All in all, it was a decent enough stopover; more of a necessity than a choice, but a worthwhile break in the long slog to Moscow.
Destination: Kazan, Russia
Date: 23rd February 2015
Class: 2nd class hard sleeper
Time: 14 hours
If you’ve been reading these blogs throughout my time on the Trans-Siberian railway, you may recall that I appear to rub the carriage attendants up the wrong way. I have no idea why; I think I’m quite a nice, friendly person (don’t laugh). I’d be happy to have me as a customer. The women who work on the trains, however, are not.
I hadn’t been on the train 30 seconds before I was getting yelled at. As I’ve said before, my knowledge of Russian is sketchy – borderline non-existent, you could say. The lady had snatched the ticket out of my hand in the ever so charming way that the rail staff seem to, and I’d started to make my way to my compartment.
Before I’d even reached the top of the (three) steps to get on to the train, she was already bawling something at me in Russian. I turned round and indicated I didn’t understand, which prompted her to follow me up the steps, push me through the door (getting my laptop bag caught in the process – cheers love) and slam it closed.
For the rest of the journey I was treated with complete disdain and was actually nervous to ask for a cup so I could make a brew – all because I’d had the bare-faced cheek to not know what “shut the f*cking door behind you!” is in Russian. How dare I?!
Thankfully my roommates, well, roommate actually, was a considerable upgrade on the last journey. A Russian lad called Adward and I had the compartment to ourselves and, despite his English being just a little better than my Russian, we managed to have a good laugh.
He actually taught me some words and sentences that I’m apparently never to repeat to anyone in Russia, and filmed me saying them to post on Instagram. I’m probably public enemy number one in Russia right now as a result, which might explain why I appear to be so hated by rail staff. Just a thought.
The rest of the journey passed without incident. In other words: I didn’t get my head kicked in by the lady running my carriage. We arrived in Kazan around 11am, where I would spend the next eight hours before hopping back on the train to Moscow.