First stop – Kazan

Arrived in Kazan this morning after taking the 22:16 train from Moscow last night. It took 11 and a half hours and didn’t get as much sleep as I’d have liked as it kept stopping several times. I was lucky to have the bottom bunk on the train in the platzcart carriage (3rd class) as you can store your luggage under the bed and know it’s secure as you have to lift the bed up to access it. I wanted to book the lower bunk on all sections of the journey, but even when booking the tickets 3 weeks in advance almost all the bottom bunks were sold out. It’s a struggle to manouveur up on to the top bunks, even more so if you’re unlucky enough to get those on the side of the carriage which have no table to use as a step up once the person below has converted it into a bed. It would’ve been nicer of course to travel in a cabin, but going third class all the way to Vladivostok meant the total price of the 8 tickets was around 15000 rubles (£250), so a bargain for that distance and always get a bed.

Only have a 6 hour stop before the train on to Yekaterinburg, but as I came here 2 years ago previously, I’m mostly retracing my steps. It’s certainly improved from my last visit, as the city was mostly looking like a building site as they prepared to host the Universade games. It is a beautiful place, and very different to other parts of Moscow as it is the capital of Tartarstan and has a large mosque as the central feature of it’s kremlin. Had a walk around the kremlin and went into the mosque and the Islamic museum in the basement, and the hot and partially sunny weather is perfect for strolling around the city centre. Went to the bizarre soviet museum as well which was full of all kinds of Soviet paraphernalia.

Kazan was previously the furthest place I’d travelled to by train in Russia, so that’s all going to change as I head on to Yekaterinburg. I’m very much looking forward to having a base there, and therefore a shower!

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