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6th May Moscow Train

May 10, 2013

6th May. Moscow Train.
We had bought samosas at the station at Tashkent and thought a beer would complement our first lunch on the train. I worked my way up to the restaurant car two carriges away and met Danyia, the man in charge of the restaurant. We introduced ourelves, I bought the beer and was heading back to our sleeper when he called ‘Garrry’ can’t write how he rolls the ‘r’ just the once. Umid the boxer did the same, it sounds so much better than the way we say it. Might change my name. Anyhow, I went back and he plucked a carnation from the fresh flowers on one of the tables. Told me to take it back to Joanne. So often they have difficuty with Joan’s name.
Went up for the evening meal later and had an excellent meal being fussed over by the restaurant staff. They always pile more food on us at no extra cost and have a laugh at and with us. Danyia runs a happy ship. The food is Uzbek but the chef on board knocks up a decent plov with more meat than we’ve had on the plate before. Better watch the vodka though, it is tasting more like water each time we have some.
Each carriage has a samovar. A dangerous looking bit of equipment with gauges and pipes sticking out from all sides. But it does provide a continuous supply of boiling water. Each carriage also has two assistants to keep an eye on things and help out when necessary. The two here are great, especially Muhammed who came down to help us with the indecipherable Kazak documentation. Remember the Kazakh language is in the cyrillic script. He was a champion boxer and says he was at the Sydney Olympics where he won a medal. I checked later, he won a gold medal in his division and was the Uzbek flag bearer. Later he suffered from double vision that meant retirement from the ring. The toilets are kept clean in first class which helps on a three day trip.
Just over a day to go until we reach Moscow and it hasn’t dragged at all. Joan has had an infection which we will have to see to when we get to Moscow.
The scenery has been mainly of steppes but the villlages are of interest. The livestock are mainly sheep and goats but yesterday we saw many camels, both Bactrian and Dromedary. I wonder how many humps would result if the two types mated.
7th May.
500kms from Mocow, the scenery has changed, more wooded, larger ploughed fields, water lying everywhere from the melted snow. The cemeteries have crosses on the graves, not crescents. Onion domed churches have replaced the round domed mosques.
Border crossings were once again a drawn out affair. Uzbek/Kazakh then Kazakh/Russia both meant 2 hours on either side of the borders while formalities were completed. At least the Russian forms were in English. Temperatures are dropping as we head north with trees now only showing early signs of new growth. The day is clear though which sees many locals, still rugged up, but standing outside appreciating the sun. The houses in the villages we pass through are small but usually well maintained and many painted in bright colours. Seem to all have a good size back yard often planted in vegies.
The train has almost emptied of passengers. It would’ve been full when leaving Tashkent but since then there has been a steady exiting of people at various stops the most being at the last big city of Samara. There are only three in our carriage now, a young bloke in the compartment next to us and ourselves.
Later.Well, with Mahommed’s warnings of pick pockets in Moscow and how the Russian mafia willl cut our throats if we’re not careful, we reluctantly disembarked from the train. It didn’t take us long to realize the difference in the people between the countries. After the warmth of the Uzbeks we ran slam bang into the off handedness and pushiness of the Muscovites. Not all by any means but enough to be significant. We will be doing the tourist thing while in Russia; a cruise on the Moscow River and a sightseeing bus trip around the city. The 9th May is Victory in the Patriotic War Day, in other words, victory over Germany in 2nd world war. The Kremlin is closed for a couple of days meaning we won’t be able to visit.
Our hotel is in the ‘burbs but the Metro is excellent. Putting my Greek to use as many of the cyrillic alphabet is similar in both languages. Not many signs in English.

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