followed by a rain cloud.
We awoke the following morning after a restful sleep to the sound of rain, pounding hard against the window of the train. The fields of sunflowers and endless sea of green of the Ukraine was now replaced by grey industrial smog filled air and concrete that makes up our entry to Moscow. As we approached the station the rain continued to pour down and of course our train carriage was at the opposite end of the station, but we finally made it to Moscow and no rain was going to dampen our spirits. It seems you have to leave the station to re enter it, unless we just went the wrong way. Anyway our plan was to put our bags into some lockers, freshen up in the station and then hit the streets of Moscow, before getting our train into Siberia which leaves at 21.35. Walking into the station is fairly intimidating as your greeted by armed guards, of course i had the random search, but it was fairly quick. On entering the toilets, which now seem to be dropping in standard, I found two glory holes cut into either side of the cubicle, nice surprise I quickly vacated as seeing an older gentleman doing his morning business isn't really the best sight. No lockers in Moscow train station, instead you must hand in your bags and pay a small fee. Of course the whole process baffled both Sarah and myself, so we stood like a couple of dumb tourists watching others hand their things in. Eventually I plucked up the courage to go and speak to the huge burly guy, dressed in a blue boiler suit and hands the size of my head. Knowing that I was a tourist he spoke English from the start and in our bags went. After thanking him in Russian, the man instantly became my best friend shaking my hand and congratulating me for having the ability to say a Russian word. As patronizing as that sounds the man's gesture was sincere, perhaps indicating the lack of effort he is used to from foreign visitors.
We headed out onto the streets, still with the rain drenching us with every drop, we headed straight towards the Red square. (after walking back and forward for a while, due to our inability to read maps.) Moscow took us by surprise, once the center of Communism, it could easily be placed anywhere in Europe, with it's Macdonalds, Hard Rock cafe and Starbucks that litter the streets, bland like ever other flat packed city center from the world of America. We decided not to go into the Kremlin due to the costs and massive ques, but we did go to the red square to see St. Basil's cathedral and it is as impressive as it looks. By the time we had finished looking around the rain along with thunder and lighting started up again. Walking around like drowned rats we searched desperately for a supermarket to stock up on noodles and snacks for the long train journey up ahead, not easy in the center of Moscow. We then had to go get our bags from our new Russian friend and make it across to the other side of Moscow to the departing train station. There are many train stations in Moscow and Yaroslav, the station which we needed to get to, shares the same street as two other major stations. None of course are signposted.
We were both so glad to board the huge piece of soviet steel, which was ready to cut through the Russian landscape. On entering our four berth cabin, or kupe as it's called in Russian, we met two Australians Pete and Cat. They were on honeymoon, traveling the trans Siberian and flying back home from China. Our lodgings together was short lived as they were moved next door to an empty cabin, giving us the luxury of having a room to ourselves. It was strange that we happened to be put with an English speaking couple, well that's what we thought until we realised that most of the train was full of English speaking passengers or Europeans. It would seem that this journey is more for the romantic westerner rather than for practical purposes. (the fact we all had copies of Dr Zhivago proves this point.) There was no whistle or announcement as the train pulled off, heaving the endless cartridges of steeltramps ready to embark on their epic adventure.