Next stage of the journey was the train from Warsaw to Moscow and this is where I had always felt that the adventure really begins.
Travelling in Europe is pretty easy. Travelling by train to Moscow was new and also a bit of a training run for the Trans Siberian Express.
I strolled along to Warsaw Central and it is a fab railway station – very clearly signposted within the building so it’s easy to find your way around.
My train was due to leave at 16.10.
The platform has screens providing information about all of the arrivals and where the your carriage will arrive on the platform…
…and it’s all very straightforward until your train disappears off the platform screen.
If there were any announcements, I didn’t hear them. There were no staff on the platform to ask, beyond a porter from he hotel next door who was guarding the luggage of tour group. He didn’t know what was going on.
Nothing for it… I ran (this 40litre ruck sack is the best) up two flights of stairs to the main concourse to read the main notice board… train was running 15 minutes late. Phew.
Then 25 minutes…
And then it pulled out of the station at 16.50.
I was sharing a four person cabin with Amy (who is setting off to cycle around Southeast Asia by herself) and a Russian woman with her son.
There were four bunks and, for you train geeks, they looked like this:
Which then pulled out to this…
It’s very civilised.
Other than a few minor nerves when the carriage conductor (who also ensures everyone has hot drinks, sells snacks and serves breakfast in the morning) confiscated our train tickets; and more significant concerns about the paperwork, the sniffer dogs and the bag searches (I’ve only just got everything in) at Polish and Belorus border checks… it was a highly enjoyable journey.
I think we bonded as we individually all gave sighs of relief as our passports and visas were approved.
We talked for most of the journey. (I still haven’t had a chance to use the ‘Dipsticks’ game. Conversation hasn’t been hard).
Amy told us about her cycling adventure. The Russian lady told us about where she lives, beyond Ulan-ude (a six day train ride from Moscow or a six hour flight), and while her son spoke very little English it quickly emerged that ‘Fortnight’ is international. We apparently sparked another family disagreement about computer games.
The main stop after the passport and visa checks was at Brest where the trains wheels had to be changed.
The Polish and Russian lines are different gauges so the carriages were separated and lifted onto new undercarriages. The process probably only took about 40 minutes.
Once we pulled out of Brest, it was after midnight and there were another twelve hours until Moscow.
And this morning… breakfast with a cup of tea and a croissant/brioche filled with condensed milk. It’s much tastier than it sounds.
Despite the late departure from Warsaw, the train pulled into Belorusskaya Station on time. Fantastic journey and experience.
- Featured photo: The wheels being changed at Brest.