What do you do on a train for four days? Catch up with blog writing (and sleep).
So I’ve finally caught up, a bit late, but better than nothing!
From Russia with love and
Some like it hot are the only films I’ve seen and can think of that involve sleeper trains. So I’m going to blame them for my longing to travel on one. They both conjured up the sense of adventure and romance. Plus it’s an awesome, chilled out way to travel, as the Russians showed me. You can sit in the restaurant cart drinking vodka and eating fish and potatoes from 9am until midnight, or until you pass out, whichever comes first!
I preferred to nurse my green tea and gaze out the window, the train moves slow enough that you can actually appreciate the scenery without it becoming a blur.
This seemed like the perfect time to admire the surroundings, there was still plenty of snow everywhere, but a clear blue sky behind the birch trees.
Changing time zones as we travel through the country, falling asleep at 2200, waking at 1200, but realising I’d only actually slept about 6 hours! That spun me out!
I woke up one day to the sound of an Irish accent, I went to investigate and met Niall, who was also achieving his bucket list goals.
Through Niall I met two guys who were in the Russian army and also knew some English. All their food and snacks, they shared, they would help translate when I was struggling, and good fun to be around.
These guys definitely made the journey quicker.
Before I knew it, I was at Baikal.
The smallest station I’d seen. I was the only person getting off and the train completely passed the platform and I had to exit the train via a long drop into the darkness!
My Couchsurfing host, Innokentiy was there to meet me. It was past midnight and we made our way by taxi back to his apartment.
He showed me around and then opened a map and gave me two choices of tour he would take me on the next day.
First, try to sleep in a bed that isn’t rocking and no gentle ‘ta-chuck-ta-chuck’ of the train as it rumbles along the tracks.
Lots of bucket list ticks going on right now. Transiberian Train!!! I’m so excited! 4 days on a train, eventually arriving in Baikal.
I boarded in Moscow, and as soon as I saw the room, I kinda thought ‘oh dear god, what have I done’. Me in a room with three strangers for four days! Eek!
I boarded after midnight so climbed straight into my bunk and passed out.
I always thought I was a light sleeper, turns out, I’m not. I slept right through two people leaving the room and the beds being re-made!
First day was mainly me exploring the limited space, I didn’t want to sit in the room for 4 days, I would go crazy, so i ventured out and found the restaurant cart.
Trying to be frugal after spending money like a millionaire at a strip bar in Saint Petersburg, I only ordered green tea just so I could sit there, read and enjoy the scenery.
That didn’t last long.
As soon as the Russians who can speak a bit of English find out there’s an English speaker on board, they crowd round to practice their skills!
I watched as they downed shots of vodka, chasing it with either beer or fruit juice and slowly ate a meal of potato and fish.
Cold like UK winter cold, so not so bad. Although after being in New Zealand this time last year just in time for winter, then returning to UK summer (which, let’s face it, means rain) followed by living in London Town over winter, and now just as the sun is starting to poke its head out of the clouds in the UK, I fly north!
Now I’m here, I’m glad I did, there’s still snow in certain areas and the cracked ice on the water looks like something out of ice age.
You ever get the feeling that you feel like your eyes have seen everything and nothing excites you?
Sounds awfully numb.
I didn’t realise I needed to see and experience something new and fresh until I saw these slabs of cracked ice.
Sounds crazy, but we had walked through this forest, which was beautiful in its own right.
We came to the lake, Lake Ladoga, which is huge.
There is this strange quiet that comes with snow.
You hold your breathe, listening, taking it all in.
Slowly approaching the bank of the expanse of water, can now hear the gentle ripples against the rocks and ice.
Then there is is, giant slabs of frozen water, cracked and melting under the clear, cloudless sky.
Neither my words or photos do this justice.
I don’t know why, but this was amazing to me.
I could have quite happily taken a deck chair and sat there for a good few hours, listening, reflecting and enjoying the view.
Like this guy:
Seeing this lake is just one example of how having a friend who is happy to take the time to show you their country is invaluable.
There is no way I would have ventured up here alone, for starters it was two hours away, two tubes and a bus ride into the middle of nowhere!
Secondly, I tend to rely heavily on tour guide books, as they usually cover the main sights that most tourists want to see, and this journey was not in the book!
Thirdly, as I have only just started learning basic Russian to see me through my journey, I have a personal translator and teacher! You learn more from a local than a language app!
After this epic walk it was time for some Russian food!
I love trying foods in other countries! Food and exploring, my favourite things!
The smell of fresh baked bread engulfs you as you walk through the door of this little cafe.
As it’s Easter this weekend, the locals kept coming in to buy easter cake to take away.
Pirashkí (пирожки) is a sort of stuffed bread roll, naturally, I ordered all the sweet ones.
But before stuffing my face with those, I tried buckwheat porridge, which isn’t like porridge at all, it’s more like giant cous cous!
I enjoyed, it’s supposed to be pretty good for you too! Winner!
Now for dessert!
I had the one stuffed with poppy seeds, I think I was picking black out of my teeth for the rest of the day but it was worth it!
I am swaddled in a million layers! I didn’t want to take a risk and catch cold, and even Oksana has let me borrow her coat on top!
I could barely move my arms!
Turns out my rip curl coat I bought in New Zealand is actually everything-proof like it says!
After the effects of being in an unhealthy relationship, the grief of Mom, I turned to food. A lot. And not good food, take aways, pizzas, and my all time vice-chocolate. If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you will have read about my experience in the boot camp in Ibiza. A quick-fix, which didn’t last very long once I came back to the real world! It got to the point where I felt like I tried everything. I’m an intelligent human being, I KNOW I should eat healthy foods and exercise more, that’s just common sense! But actually following those general rules when your emotions are up and down like a yo-yo is hard when you have no self control!
So I employed a Personal Trainer.
I put it off for so long because I genuinely thought I could do it by myself.
Getting help was one of the best things I’ve done this year. I actually have a plan I can stick to, I’m accountable to someone, and I’m seeing results, albeit slowly, but I feel like the excess weight will actually stay off with this lifestyle change.
And that’s the key to all this, it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle choice.
Moving to London has also been challenging during this transition. Socialising in London calls for a lot of drinking. I’ve been called boring several times, and received a lot of weird stares when I’m offered a drink and I refuse.
All this behaviour has made me realise I’m actually lucky as I don’t need alcohol to enjoy my night. I still talk to everyone, I still dance like no one is watching, and I don’t have the hangover or crave bad carbs the next day!
So once I get to a point I’m happy with, I may even share my before and after pix. So watch this space…