It’s a long way to Nizhny Novgorod

20 Oct

It’s a long way to go

It’s long way to Nizhny Novgorod…

(I’m from Tipperary, I should know)


Enthusiastic russian rookie that I was, upon the suggestion of visiting the, what could only be, oh-so-wonderful city of Nizhy Novgorod. I hopped on the idea as quickly as I did the train, eager to escape the confines of Moscow after 5 months within its walls, and see the “real” Russia. The plan: to spend a day in N.N, save on accommodation, book a night train back. I had been told that there wasn’t that much to do in Russian cities…

Boarding the train, we were, without a doubt, the only foreigners in that carriage, most likely of the train. How did I know? Only foreigners book online to avoid the trauma of the train station desk and scary old babkas…. And all the staff know that people booked online because no ticket is issued, they have The list, you bring your passport…

And what better way to do this, than by Platzkart, the esteemed transport of the masses, communal, warm and full of sexy Russian soldiers?

Obviously this was to be to the great disappointment of my male company upon whom the musty fragrance of their military pheromones had no effect – no positive one at least. But for all the single ladies, and the not so single ones, there definitely was some entertainment to be had watching these fine young men in khaki hoisting themselves up and down to the top bunks, muscles flexing and unflexing, taut abdominal muscles rippling under their tight little wife beaters.

Opening our first beers, I settled in with my 2 associates, ready to “live the dream” and drink alcohol on a real soviet style train, going east. Anybody who has ever fantasized about train travel in this country will understand this sentiment, anyone who didn’t, should probably travel by train anyway.

Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod is possibly the most boring train in Russia

Although beer had not yet been legally considered an alcoholic beverage at this time, we still got a warning from the train police for our beer in the seating area, then again in the smoking area; third time we hid them, lest they confiscate them, or worse… How? I don’t know, expecting worse seems to be a sensible idea when dealing with the militsia.

Apart from that, it was a rather eventless 8 hour train ride, despite getting on at 10pm. Everybody bunked down, pyjamaed up and that was it… Stubbornly I chose the top bunk, only to realise in the morning, to my dismay, that I was incapable of descending from my perch due the chains that held the bunk up. After a 10 minute debate with my common sense I eventually opted to emulate my sexy Russian neighbours and lever myself down the 2m which separated the ground from my feet.

Eventually, 10minutes after our rude awakening by the scary ticket lady, we chugged into N.N. Mid June, average temperature +10 degrees, weather: strong winds and rain.

Coming soon: The REAL Nizhny Novgorod

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