Trans-Siberian Part 4: The train to Moscow

I somehow knew there was going to be a problem - it was all going without a hitch so far.

I spent a couple of hours in the VIP lounge at Kiev railway station, wandered down with about an hour to go to see what platform my train was appearing on - nothing. I hung around waiting and waiting and realised that the board hadn't changed for ages and ages, and I only had 15 minutes left. I walked up to the information window. "Do you speak English?" I optimistically asked. The lady behind the counter shook her head and said "No" (in English) and gave me a look that said all sorts of things but one of them was definitely "come back when you can speak Ukrainian". I thought maybe I'm panicking too much, I'll go and check the boards again, but after 10 more minutes I was getting very worried as my train was about to leave.

I went back to the information window and held my ticket up to the glass. "Which platform?" This time, she went off to get her colleague who could speak English. They looked at the ticket for ages and then her colleague shouted "PLATFORM ONE!!" I ran out onto the platform and saw my train about to leave. Thank god for that, I thought …

Showed my ticket to the provonitza and looked long and hard at it. "Wagon 4!" I just realised my ticket didn't have a wagon number, unlike all the others - and she was taking a guess. I ended up 100 yards down the platform but wasn't allowed on. About 10 railways staff, security guards and Ukrainian customs officials all came over. Something was clearly wrong - the ticket HAD to have a wagon number, and they didn't want to let me on the train. I kept saying that I'd bought the ticket, I need to get on - I was seriously expecting them to send me packing. In the end - bearing in mind the train is now 10 minutes late - I've been told by one of the guards to leave my bags on the platform (!) and the provonitza has starting running back into the station, I've followed her, and after about 5 minutes of jabbering with the other woman at the ticket desk, we've run out again. I've still no idea what's happening. I've gone back to the platform, they've looked at all my other tickets (from London onwards) and my passport over and over, and in the end they suddenly decided to let me onto the train. I hadn't done anything wrong, but I'd preordered the tickets from Deutsche Bahn using an English agent (the one recommended by Seat 61) and this one ticket had no Wagon number, just a Bettplatz number. (All my tickets from London to Moscow are in German, another language I can barely manage). There's a hint if you're reading this, check your tickets and if they have any numbers missing, sort it out before you go!

I was put into a compartment that clearly wasn't the one I was meant to be in and found myself sharing with an Ukrainian version of the skinhead from the Persil advert. (You know the one …)

Unlike the guys I met the previous day, he clearly wasn't interested in making conversation with me - probably a bit pissed off that he didn't have the cabin to himself. The train started moving - it was about 10pm by now so I settled in. The provonitza then came in and even though we'd already established that we can't speak each other's languages, she persisted in having whole and angry conversations with me. Not a few words either - long, long sentences. Eventually she picked up my passport and read the front - saw the word Ireland (as part of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and asked if I was Irish! I just said yes and she seemed a little bit more relaxed with me after that.

I managed to get some sleep and was woken up with a thump on the door about 5am - one hour earlier than needed - to warn me about Russian passport control and customs, so that was helpful too. We'd already entered Russia about an hour into the journey but the passport and customs people travel on the train. Luckily I got the paperwork I was expecting (I was dreading not getting a migration card and not being let out of the country 6 days later). Just as the train was pulling in to the station Mr Persil turned round to me and suddenly found some English, as if it was pre-programmed into him, looking me straight in the eyes and saying loudly "RUSSIA IS A VERY BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY!" Yes I'm sure I'm going to enjoy it a lot, but next time I go to Moscow, I don't think I'll catch a train from Kiev.



Next:     Trans-Siberian Part 5: The Ostankino Tower
Previous:     Trans-Siberian Part 3: Kiev

Last updated 01 June 2013 12:54

A bird

I think I'm meant to do an "About" here but I think you'd be more interested in seeing a random seagull.

Trans-Siberian

  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Billericay to Cologne
  • Part 2: Warsaw
  • Part 3: Kiev
  • Part 4: The train to Moscow
  • Part 5: The Ostankino Tower
  • Part 6: Around VDNZh park
  • Part 7: Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines
  • Part 8: The Moscow Metro
  • Part 9: Moscow city centre
  • Part 10: Random Moscow
  • Part 11: Leaving for Siberia
  • Part 12: Moscow to Perm
  • Part 13: Yekaterinburg to Novosibirsk
  • Part 14: Tayga to Nizhneudinsk
  • Part 15: Lake Baikal to Mongolia
  • Part 16: Crossing the Russia/Mongolia border
  • Part 17: Exploring Ulaanbaatar
  • Part 18: A great big statue of Ghengis Khan
  • Part 19: The Zaisan Monument
  • Part 20: Beers from many lands

  • Gigs

  • 08.12.2015 Shed Seven, Hatfield
  • 27.11.2015 Vile Electrodes, Brentwood
  • 07.11.2015 Asylums, Southend
  • 30.10.2015 Baby Blues, Brentwood
  • 02.10.2015 Fireworks, Harringay
  • 25.09.2015 Lydia Lucy, Brentwood
  • 28.08.2015 Dani Clay, Brentwood
  • 24.07.2015 Indietracks
  • 17.07.2015 Latitude Festival
  • 11.07.2015 Brownstock Festival
  • 11.07.2015 Southend Village Green
  • 26.06.2015 The Who, Hyde Park
  • 20.06.2015 Blur, Hyde Park
  • 13.06.2015 British Sea Power, Camden
  • 06.06.2015 1000 Yard Stare, Charing Cross
  • 03.06.2015 Madness, Great Leights
  • 31.05.2015 Los Endos, Hornchurch
  • 29.05.2015 Juke, Brentwood
  • 28.05.2015 Pop Will Eat Itself, Shoreditch
  • 24.05.2015 Ride, Camden
  • 24.04.2015 Kaleidophone, Brentwood
  • 27.03.2015 Finding Miranda, Brentwood
  • 13.03.2015 Francesca Priest, Brentwood
  • 13.02.2015 Kaiser Chiefs, Greenwich
  • 06.02.2015 Ryan Green, Brentwood
  • 31.01.2015 Sulk - Hackney
  • 23.01.2015 Velvet Tree, Brentwood
  • 11.01.2015 Bis, Pentonville
  • 19.12.2014 High/Low, Southend
  • 12.12.2014 Break For Cover, Brentwood
  • 28.11.2014 For The Love Of Bob, Brentwood
  • 22.11.2014 Carter USM, Brixton
  • 31.10.2014 Band From Co Hell, Brentwood
  • 28.10.2014 Steve Hackett, Westcliff
  • 20.10.2014 Hafdis Huld, Charing Cross
  • 11.10.2014 Stillmarillion, Ruislip
  • 26.09.2014 D'Ukes, Brentwood
  • 13.09.2014 Flag Factory Festival, Brentwood
  • 03.09.2014 Kate Bush, Shepherd's Bush
  • 30.08.2014 Brownstock Festival
  • 08.08.2014 Killing Jimmy, Brentwood
  • 20.07.2014 Brentwood Festival
  • 19.07.2014 Latitude Festival
  • 18.07.2014 Juke, Brentwood
  • 20.06.2014 Pete Brame, Brentwood
  • 30.05.2014 Bow Flats, Brentwood
  • 25.05.2014 Pop Will Eat Itself, Islington
  • 23.05.2014 Arctic Monkeys, Finsbury Park
  • 14.05.2014 Wolf Alice, Cambridge
  • 30.04.2014 Yes, Westcliff
  • 25.04.2014 Ordinary Noise, Brentwood
  • 19.04.2014 Darling Buds, Charing Cross
  • 28.03.2014 Mannequins, Brentwood
  • 26.03.2014 Menswear, Shepherd's Bush
  • 23.03.2014 Republica, Islington
  • 14.03.2014 Franz Ferdinand, Camden
  • 28.02.2014 Ryan Green, Brentwood
  • 27.02.2014 Republica, Balham
  • 03.02.2014 Maximo Park, Bethnal Green
  • 31.01.2014 Scarlet Echo, Brentwood
  • 22.11.2013 Nedstock, Shepherd's Bush
  • 18.11.2013 Pub Serv Bcasting, Cambridge
  • 04.11.2013 Art Brut, Tunbridge Wells
  • 01.11.2013 Steve Hackett, Cambridge
  • 23.10.2013 Suede, Westcliff
  • 27.09.2013 Primitives, Southend
  • 21.09.2013 Duckworth Lewis Method, SB
  • 14.09.2013 The Flag Factory Festival
  • 06.09.2013 Jonny Cola/A Grades, Harlow
  • 25.07.2013 Bis, Pentonville
  • 19.07.2013 Latitude Festival
  • 17.07.2013 Taffy, Camden
  • 05.07.2013 Brentwood Festival
  • 26.06.2013 Bleech, Bethnal Green
  • 22.06.2013 Battle Stage Final
  • 09.06.2013 Tibetan Tea Company, Romford
  • 26.05.2013 Battle Stage 3
  • 25.05.2013 Muse, Highbury
  • 21.05.2013 Dirty Royals, Islington
  • 18.05.2013 Mika Bomb, Southend
  • 18.05.2013 Battle Stage 2
  • 27.04.2013 Battle Stage 1
  • 06.04.2013 Dingus Khan, Southend
  • 16.03.2013 Republica, Tunbridge Wells
  • 09.03.2013 Phoenix In The Foyer
  • 27.02.2013 Kaiser Chiefs, Cambridge
  • 26.02.2013 Bleech, Cambridge
  • 19.02.2013 History Of Apple Pie, Shoreditch
  • 12.02.2013 Sonic Boom Six, Southend
  • 06.02.2013 The 1975, Southend
  • 25.01.2013 Archetype, Brentwood
  • 02.12.2012 Lighting Up Shenfield
  • 01.12.2012 Lighting Up Brentwood
  • 24.11.2012 Lovely Eggs, Southend
  • 20.11.2012 Focus, Chislehurst
  • 10.11.2012 Carter USM, Brixton
  • 03.11.2012 Taffy, Clerkenwell
  • 02.11.2012 Bleech, Harlow
  • 27.10.2012 Phoenix In The Foyer 2
  • 15.09.2012 Phoenix In The Foyer 1
  • 01.08.2012 Blur, Margate
  • 08.07.2012 Brentwood Festival
  • 29.06.2012 Bis, Pentonville
  • 22.06.2012 Knifeworld, Pentonville
  • 08.06.2012 Jim Bob, Bedford
  • 02.06.2012 Coldplay, Highbury
  • 30.05.2012 Evans The Death, Chelmsford
  • 11.05.2012 The Others, Putney
  • 04.05.2012 BAS II, Basildon
  • 29.04.2012 Break For Cover, Ingatestone
  • 18.03.2012 The Brownies, Shoreditch
  • 24.02.2012 Neil Hannon, Felsted
  • 29.01.2012 Kaiser Chiefs, Westcliff

  • Interviews

  • 28.06.1996 Frank and Walters
  • 01.07.2006 Sultans of Ping

  • Random writings

  • Aris Salonica
  • Lake Margaretting

  • Essex Walks

  • 1. Goldhanger
  • 2. Downham