Helsinki to Moscow (15 hours by train)
Upon arriving at the train station we had to walk the entire length of the platform to our reserved car #2. Luggage had been delivered to that area of the platform but it was up to us to get it aboard. It was a frantic time as the passageway on the train was only about 3 feet wide. When finished the entire passageway was filled with luggage and there was barely enough room to walk. Wilma settled us in a compartment. It was approximately 5 x 6 feet with 3 bunks. Originally we were to have only 2 people to a compartment but Russian tactics suddenly had us assigned 3 to a compartment. Dr. Feldman was running around trying to get everyone divided and settled with 3 individuals to a compartment. As he breezed past our compartment I said, “Do we get you? About 20 minutes later he returned and said, “Here I am girls --- I’m all yours”.
After this monumental ordeal of confusion, we decided it was time to break out the scotch and snacks. A few of our traveling companions joined us for cheese, crackers, wonderful supermarket cold greasy chicken and scotch to wash it down. We will be hungry by the time we reach Moscow providing we are still alive.
Now that we were reasonably settled for a lengthy trip to Moscow following being fortified with a little food and scotch, time to check out those areas that might be part of managing this ordeal. Such as the head facilities. For you non-Navy people that is the bathroom. It was located at the end of the car and was indeed a breathless experience.
Darn. Why didn’t I think about bringing a biological odor eliminator with me? Or better still a gas mask. The non-smokers on the trip suggested we smoke in the head to improve the odor. They thought smoke would be a welcome improvement. As I did an inventory of the facility I noted the following. The paper towel dispenser was mounted upside down and of course was empty. There was a dispenser for seat protectors but it was empty. As for the toilet paper that was available you might compare it with a fine type of sand paper. My trips to this area were as infrequent as my bladder would allow.
As we traveled over the rails in Finland the ride was smooth. When we crossed the boarder into Russia the ride became extremely rough. The countryside was changed from well-groomed farmland and buildings to very poorly kept farmland and shabby homes and other buildings.
During the first few hours of travel on the “Green Train” we had multiple stops for Passport and Visa inspections. Then we decided to explore the rest of the train and perhaps the dining room. This was not an easy task as there was not a secure walkway between the cars. We leaped from one car to another hoping we would not fall onto the tracks below. At 2330 we found the dining car packed with people.
Time to make an attempt to get some sleep. We finally figured out how to pull the bunks down and get the bedding organized. Not that it mattered much. We slept in our clothes.
Dr. Feldman had the top bunk. Wilma the middle one and I had the bottom. Dr. Feldman was not a bargain compartment mate due to his intense snoring. We managed about 1 hour of sleep and was awake at 0300. We decided to fix some left over food from our wonderful evening meal. We were hungry so even stale bread and room temperature cheese tasted pretty good.
We arrived in Moscow at 0845 on Sunday 2 July being met by a downpour of rain. Moscow has been the capital of Russia since the late 15th century. Population about 9 million. People who presented them with a bouquet of flowers greeted Russian passengers.
We boarded a bus and were on our way to our Hotel. Cosmos Hotel. Room 1123. We settled in our room, brushed up a little and went to the dining room for breakfast. As it was about 1030 instead of normal breakfast time it appeared the waiters were totally confused. I am rapidly figuring out the people don’t adapt well to the out of the ordinary situation.
Next blog title: Sight seeing in Moscow.