Trans-Mongolian journal: One and a half day in Omsk and train ride to Novosibirsk

September 5th – September 6th, 2017
Day 1: No, no, five hundred Rubles!
We arrived in Omsk in the evening, and walked down the steps to where there was a line of taxis luring for foreign, innocent passengers who practically reeked of inability to negotiate taxi prices. The distance from the train station to the hostel took about 15 minutes to drive, we had researched on Google Maps beforehand. We walked up to the most friendly-looking taxi driver and presented the printout of the hotel booking, showing the address and my handwritten “100 RUB” right next to it. The friendly-looking taxi driver was having none of our low-ball offer. “Nyet, nyet. Pjat” he said, showing five fingers. Five hundred Rubles seems to be the standard price for short distances for people who are unable to negotiate the fare.
“Well, he’s the most friendly-looking one around”, my fiancé said, indicating that she didn’t want to find another one who could drive us to the hotel for a lower price. I’ll have to admit that I’m a terrible negotiator myself, so I guess I cannot fully blame my fiancé for accepting the high price. We accepted it, and placed ourselves within the tiny car, which had a cracked window and no power steering. Continue reading “Trans-Mongolian journal: One and a half day in Omsk and train ride to Novosibirsk”

Trans-Mongolian journal: Perm – Omsk, food on the train and some reflections

September 4th – September 5th, 2017

First class in Trans-Siberian train 030HA.
First class in Trans-Siberian train 030HA.

The train number 030HA, departing from Perm and going to Omsk, arrived about 25 minutes before departure, and we were welcomed by a smiling attendant. She showed us our first class compartment and every single feature of it. All of them. She also showed us every single item in the catalogue of items for purchase. Every one.

This train was a lot older than the one we were on for Moscow – Perm. The beds were covered in red leather, and the compartment had a vague smell of tobacco. The walls were of classic oak-colored wood. Even if the train was older than the first one, I liked it better simply because of its charming features. This compartment didn’t have windows that could be opened, so we prayed that the air-conditioning would be effective. Again, it seemed like we were almost alone in our wagon. My guess is that we are approaching off-season and therefore don’t have as many co-travellers, at least not in first class. Continue reading “Trans-Mongolian journal: Perm – Omsk, food on the train and some reflections”

Trans-Mongolian journal: Two slow days in slow Perm

September 2nd – September 4th, 2017
Day 1: Park visit, pelmenny and a senior curious about my GoPro
Since we had two full days available in Perm until the next train departing for Omsk, we agreed to take it slow for once. We have a habit of hurrying around, wanting to experience as much as possible within a short period of time. Since Perm didn’t really seem to be much of an exciting town, we forced ourselves to just stroll around slowly, in order to stretch the experiences as much as possible out in time. Much of the city center was closed off for car traffic that day, as there was a marathon or some other sort of race going on. That made it a perfect day for walking around and taking a look at the city.

The strange sculpture "Permyak Salty Ears" in Perm.
The strange sculpture “Permyak Salty Ears” in Perm.

Perm is a cute little Russian town of about a million inhabitants, but there doesn’t really seem to be much going on, at least not for a tourist with a few days to kill. The number one attraction on TripAdvisor is “Permyak – the salty ears”, a sculpture in front of a hotel, which you are supposed to put your face in and have someone photograph you, and you’ll appear to have large ears. The sculpure has been awarded a prize of “the strangest attraction” in Russia by a Russian magazine. I agree. Continue reading “Trans-Mongolian journal: Two slow days in slow Perm”

Trans-Mongolian journal: Moscow – Perm train ride and a crazy taxi driver in Perm

September 1st – 2nd, 2017
Our 23 hour train ride between Moscow and Perm was almost half finished when we woke up. Since the train departed the night before, we spent almost half of the ride asleep. We probably did not miss too much while we were sleeping anyway, as the views between Moscow and Perm didn’t seem to be too spectacular. Time flew by quickly even when we were awake.
At 15:00, the train stopped at Balyezino station for about half an hour in order to change locomotives. The station was filled with traders selling snacks, soda, water, home made food and hand crafted items. We looked at the time table on the wall, and saw that the train would depart at 15:25, meaning that we would have 25 minutes to shop. Even though we knew when it would depart, we were still constantly worried that the train would suddenly leave, so we bought a few items quickly and boarded the train as fast as we could, just to be sure. They do not use a whistle and they might depart earlier than planned, so you better keep an eye on the attendants. It turned out to depart three minutes after schedule. Continue reading “Trans-Mongolian journal: Moscow – Perm train ride and a crazy taxi driver in Perm”

Trans-Mongolian journal: Two days in Moscow

August 30th – September 1st, 2017

Aeroflot SU 2535 OSL- SVO.
Aeroflot SU 2535 OSL- SVO.

We started our Trans-Mongolian railway trip by flying to Moscow from Oslo with an old Aeroflot airplane. Tickets were cheaper than what we usually pay to get home to Northern Norway for Christmas, about 1200 NOK for a one way ticket. Before going, I read a little bit about what to expect when arriving at Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO). Some people wrote that they had been stuck for hours in border control as the airport supposedly was filled with people, almost like when landing at Newark in USA with an international flight. Our flight was landing at 00:30, so I was sort of expecting to be in bed very late, since border control reportedly could be so slow. The terminal turned out to be almost empty, so everything went pretty smoothly. There was almost no line at the passport control booths, so within a few minutes it was our turn. I guess this is one of the pros of travelling at night and late in season. Continue reading “Trans-Mongolian journal: Two days in Moscow”