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article imagePhoto Essay: Riding the Russian train Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Dec 17, 2013 in World
Moscow - If you travel to Russia, you must ride the Russian train from Moscow to Samara. It's inexpensive, friendly, and full of surprises.
My first experience in Russia was riding the train from Moscow to Samara. Armed only with my Lonely Planet Guide to Russia and my fold-out Russian language map, I left the Moscow airport for a big, ornate Moscow train station where I boarded a train to Samara. I had booked the train ride from America and decided to splurge on a first-class ticket so that I would share my room with only one person (hopefully, a woman).
The ride was 17 hours long and included a comfortable bed in the nicely decorated room I shared with an elderly Russian woman. She taught me a little Russian and gave me bread and cheese on the quaint table that featured a colorful cloth which matched our window's curtains. She escorted me past the second-class sleeping compartments that held beds for 4 people and through the third-class wagon that had beds everywhere, up and down, for 50 people (the most private beds are at the top but difficult to climb to). We found the restaurant car, and my Russian guide introduced me to our wagon's Provitnitsa (stewardess) who showed me how to get hot water from the tall, silver-plated samovar.
I was enchanted by that samovar and the silver and glass tea cups that the Provitnitsa provided (along with free tea bags). It seemed as if I had been transported back 150 years when Russian writers rode the train and wrote their long, romantic novels. I sat in the dining car and watched Russian men, in long black coats and fur hats, sip vodka from small glasses. I imagined that Tolstoy must have loved riding the Russian train. He wove it, tragically, into his book about Anna Karenina which was made into a visually stunning, Oscar-winning film.
In fact, after surviving my first Russian winter, I rode the train again, from Samara to Moscow and back in just 2 days. I experienced my own romantic Russian moment and wrote it into my Blog. There's nothing like flying through the snowy countryside and kissing a stranger in the icy compartments between the clattery wagons (I wrote a whole chapter about my train ride in my newest book). White hills, bridges over frozen lakes and rivers, bleak black trees, and stars loomed bright outside the windows. Snow drifted over the train tracks when we stopped at quant little wooden stations. Women station workers, bundled up in parkas, bravely serviced the train's water system with hoses held in gloved hands. As I stood in the doorway and watched, ice crystals floated in the air above my breath, and I could not venture out to the platform.
To experience Russian romance, literature, and culture, you must simply ride the Russian train.
My first Russian train was this little one that went from the Moscow airport to downtown Moscow
My first Russian train was this little one that went from the Moscow airport to downtown Moscow
I stood at Red Square on a rainy evening and saw Saint Basil s Cathedral in front of me and the Krem...
I stood at Red Square on a rainy evening and saw Saint Basil's Cathedral in front of me and the Kremlin to my right
Behind me was this big museum
Behind me was this big museum
Moscow: GUM department store  a giant  upscale shopping mall
Moscow: GUM department store, a giant, upscale shopping mall
Inside  GUM
Inside "GUM"
One of the big  ornate train stations of Moscow
One of the big, ornate train stations of Moscow
Inside my train that originated from Uzbekistan and took me from Samara to Moscow in the spring
Inside my train that originated from Uzbekistan and took me from Samara to Moscow in the spring
The train s corridor
The train's corridor
An example of what you can see out of the train s windows
An example of what you can see out of the train's windows
More about Russia, Moscow, samara, Train, Railway
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