Friday, September 20, 2013

Camping out on a long train

The Food Routine

Today (9/19) is the first uninterrupted day of travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway (actually, it will be about 3 days on this leg), in terms of sleeping on the train the night before, experiencing a day without border delays, and looking forward to a second night on board.  The train departed Irkutsk the evening of September 18 at about 6:30pm.  After lugging our bags and a large sack of groceries through the station, up and down stairs (these stations don’t have escalators, unfortunately), we joyfully found our compartment and settled in, after receiving fresh sheets, pillow cases and towels from the porter (the provodnista).  In our second-class
Bubba Blending on the
Platform during a stop
compartment, there are 4 berths, so our routine has been to sleep in the upper bunks and lounge on the lower bunks, sitting mostly at the small table by the window for eating, reading, writing, lounging, etc.  
This train has no dining car, so we had to scour the markets around the Irkutsk train station for 3 dinners and 2 lunches-worth of food that could be prepared by adding hot water from the train carriage’s samovar.  We learned that the best bet for a hot meal on board is an Asian version of Cup O’ Noodles - same kind of packaging, but with Chinese, Mongolian or Russian text on the outside.  Most of the time,
Restocking after unknowingly buying
 too many dehydrated potato 'meals"
we’ve had to trust the pictures on the Styrofoam bowl, and once or twice, we ended up with mashed potatoes instead of noodles, or meat instead of veggies.  (I’ve had to relax my dietary guidelines as a result.)  So breakfast has been essentially a Cliff Bar (I brought a bag from the US), dried fruit and
after a food run
tea; lunch today was a bowl of ramen noodles each, and half a candy bar.  We’ll have salted peanuts for cocktail hour with some good Russian vodka, and dinner will be another noodle bowl or a meat thing for Chris and mashed potatoes for me.  I shudder to think of the chemicals and preservatives we’re consuming, but there isn’t a better solution for a hot meal.  The last leg from Yekaterinburg to St. Petersburg, we think, we’ll have a dining car and tomorrow night we’re in a Hyatt in Yekaterinburg, so we’ll have a good meal (and a shower!).  In the meantime, we are enjoying the time camping out in our compartment, watching Siberia go by.


Christy Davis said...

We eagerly open our iPad in anticipation of the new adventure you are having. Love the descriptions, you're painting a vivid picture supplemented by photos which share a fun glimpse of your world(s) right now. Enjoyed hearing about the adventures in food, too!

Singapore Prognostication said...

Chris, Your choice in hats has changed since leaving Singapore.