This entire “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles World Tour” started with the idea of riding the Trans-Siberian train (TST) across Russia with my dad for his 70th birthday. Since I went through the effort of getting us Russian visas I decided we should visit St Petersburg and Moscow first (you should have already read those blogs the last couple weeks) and we took the overnight Red Arrow to get from one to the other. This was such a wonderful train ride with the water and snacks on the table, breakfast served at 7am, the plush accommodations, and the structured staff I was really looking forward to seeing what the TST was going to be like this. Click Here
WELL……..the answer is, not quite (to use Hertz slogan). We got aboard and the cabin we were in was ok, but on the bare bones side and a bit tired. The beds were like sleeping on a board and there was no functional outlet in the cabin to charge things with. In fact, the staff said the only outlets were at the end of the hall and in the bathrooms, but then they would turn off the power to them (arrggg, they were as bad as I am with power management on the boat 🙂 ). But we figured it was the best there was since we had first class tickets and the cabin to ourselves.
The second day was cold in the cabin. When we asked about heat we were told no (by them shaking their heads since they did not speak English). I tried to get more info, but was not happening. Well by evening I was spending the entire time in the dinner car because it was warmer (it was cold enough, you could see your breath in the other cars) when I saw people coming in from the other side wearing shorts. I am think that is not right, so I asked them if it was cold. They said that their second class (they had 4 per cabin) car was too warm and they had to wear t-shirts…..plus their beds were nice and soft.
I told them about the evaluation of etoro’s social trading platform and they said there was a Russian that spoke English, so I found him out and asked if he would be my interpreter. As soon as he stepped into our car he said it is very cold here (in fact he hurried because it was too cold even for a Russian) and talked to the staff about turning up the heat. When they told him they did not have heat in the first class car he said they had it in the second class car, so why not here? Their response was “that is a Russian car, this is a Mongolian car”. He asked what they did in the winter and they stated these cars only run until September 15th (it was Sept 11th at that time).
At this point I said “so the 2nd class gets better beds and heat? What was the point in me getting 1st class?” All the Mongolian staff did was shrug and walk off. Wonderful. The Russian took me to talk to the Russian car staff and she said I might be able to move to 2nd class, but I would have to pay more money.
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I said “I have to pay more money than I paid for the 1st class cabin in order to move into a 2nd class car?” Her response was “well that is a Mongolian car and this is a Russian car” and walked away.
Besides getting tired of people walking away (haha) at this point all I could do is laugh at the bureaucratic situation and suck it up, because the difference between adventure and an ordeal is attitude (Bob Bitchin).
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