| Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I have had so many Russian experiences in 3 days. It has been great. Russian life is so different. My first post about Russian life and culture is about the primary mode of travel from city to city in Russia, the train.

There are train stations in every major city and in almost every other little town (деревня) throughout Russia. Trains primary purpose in Russia are to get people from one place to another, unlike in the United States where the primary purpose is to move goods from one place to another. The most famous train is the Tran-Siberian which travels 6 days from one side of Russia to the other, however I have never actually ridden on this train.

The train station is always a busy place and you can think of it like the airport in America, because literally that is what it is. The train station in Moscow is a melting pot of nationalities, dominated by Russians of course. It is the starting and ending point for many people. We got there a few minutes early and I had time to snap a few pictures.

The train station (vokzal).

Conductor checking tickets and passports.

In order to get on the train you must show your passport and ticket upon which you go to find your spot on the train. Each spot is a bed, with two beds to a wall (one on top and one on bottom). Most people prefer the bottom bed because the top spot gets unbearably hot at night usually.

The next part will be hard to understand for most who have never been on a train in Russia, but there are two different car types where people can sleep. One of them has kypes, which are like small rooms, with 4 beds to a room. As missionaries we always traveled in kypes and we always paid for all of the spots in a kype even in we were only going to use 2 of the 4 spots. Each bed/spot is long enough to stretch out on for someone like me and the room gives you privacy since you can close and lock the door (however, locking the door usually isn't a good idea if you have other people in the room with you that you don't know).

The more common car that Russians typically travel in is called platscart. The plats cart is divided up also into rooms but the rooms don't close off and there are two additional spots at the end of each “room.” In other words, as you walk down the car, you walk by everyone and see them and what they are doing. It leaves no room for privacy, but is cheaper and since you are usually only traveling over night, it isn't usually too big a deal. I have traveled platscart 3 times now and never had any problems, and during this past trip met some very nice people who shared their food with us.
The two main car layouts.

A view from our bed.

The thing I love most about the train is that you can lay down and sleep. Yes, the train takes longer to get to your final destination, but catching some winks on the moving hotel is better than losing your lunch on the flying bird. Don't take my word for it though. Experience it for yourself!

The metal toilet in each car.