Our trip to Moscow ended in an adventure on a train.
We had mainly taken trains before to get to nearby places quickly, as high speed trains allowed us to make journeys of 300 kilometers in one hour.
But it had never occurred to us to make longer trips on train. We automatically thought of going by plane. However, if you calculate the time involved in flying, including the extra hours you have to be in the airport, plus the time it takes to get there, and if you consider everything that flying involves (security, police control, luggage check in…), a trip that takes 1 hour on flight, turns into an at least 5 hour endeavour…. It is not always worthwhile to fly!
That’s why I felt like I had hit jack pot when someone suggested to take an overnight train between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. How had we never thought of this before?!
Besides, it wouldn’t just be transport from one city to another… it would be part of our vacations, as we would take this trip in the historic “Red Arrow train, Красная стрела in Russian.
This train began its rides between Saint Petersburg (which was then called Leningrad) and Moscow in 1931 and it is the oldest train that is still normally functioning. It is historic but not only because of this, but also because Lenin, Stalin and other important characters from Russian History used it as means of transport.
Taking this train made me feel like Ana Karenina (remember I told you about my attempts at reading this novel?). It is decorated just as it was before, with elegant drapery in the style of rococo, carpets with fancy designs, sophisticated embroidered tablecloths…
Of course all of this is getting old, and even though it kind of smells dusty, the whole experience really made me feel like someone from the elite class in the tsar’s era (the train is not really that old, but the experience is really, very romantic).
Standing straight at the platform to get on the train there were very well groomed women in fancy, grey uniforms and long white gloves. They checked our passports and tickets and helped us on board. Once in our berth, we found two large sofas, very comfortable, and a center table with two pastries, glass bottled water and two elegant glasses with engraved patterns.
The berth was comfortable and had a sliding door that could be closed on the inside.
After a few minutes, a man came in offering food and beverages from a menu, and after buying two very expensive beers, we continued investigating what would be our space for the next eight hours. Of course, Ruben was the one who did most of this investigation – and despite it being 11:00 pm, he was, of course, very actively wanting to grab anything in his reach.
It was time for the train to start, and the song “Hymn to the Great City” started playing, as it does since the 1965 every time it leaves and arrives at a station. To the rhythm of this song we discovered how to turn our sofas into beds, and noticed that these had a complete set of very comfortable linens and even a set of towels for each of us. In conclusion, nothing that couldn’t be compared to a great hotel room!
It was very hard for Ruben to finally fall asleep … go figure, we were in a very strange and new place for him .. but he finally did, at around 1:30 am, and he continued doing so for the entire trip as he shared bed with me. I, on the other hand, woke various times, worried that I was crushing him. It’s not that I don’t know how to co-sleep with him – destiny has made me do so often – but the bed, although it was comfortable, was narrower than common beds.
In the morning of course Ruben didn’t want to wake up (if only that happened on a regular Sunday!), because he had gone to sleep very late. But he got excited when a woman came in to give us a pack with children’s games, and he had his first experience with crayons and “drawing”.
It was a pleasant trip for all of us, and although I didn’t get a good night’s sleep (what mom of a baby under 2 years old gets a good night’s sleep anyway? don’t you dare say “I”!). Ruben had a great time walking up and down our train carriage, and yes! our ultra light, super comfortable and super narrow stroller fit through the train!
From now on, we will always consider train rides as a means of transport for our travels. I highly recommend it as an option, many times the price is much more reasonable than it is for flying, and it can really be much more convenient and comfortable as well.
If you are interested in train travel, I recommend you investigate “The man in seat 61“, a guru in this topic!