For being the largest city in Siberia and the third largest in Russia, there was not a whole lot to do or see in Novosibirsk. When we arrived we went to a "folk performance," which turned out to be a band with an accordion and several balalaikas. Balalaikas are triangular-shaped guitar-like instruments. The place we were in was a bit dreary--up three stories of uneven stairs (have I mentioned there are no elevators in Russia?) to a stuffy, un-air-conditioned balcony with a drippy ceiling. Thankfully the music was lively and fun, and the accordion player, who doubled as the emcee, had a great sense of humor. It was especially appreciated as we were all having a hard time cracking the sullen exteriors of our Russian train crew. Serious, serious, serious--you just knew there was a smile in there somewhere, but it was hard to find!
Dinner was in an authentic country restaurant called "Gillibilli," which is the phrase that all Russian fairy-tales start with, "Once Upon a Time." A slew of waiters stood and watched while two poor girls tried to serve us--well, sort of tried. Martin had to coach their every step--"ask what they want to drink," "clear the salad plates," "see if they need drink refills..." They had no clue how to provide good service and did so begrudgingly. I guess that Russian customers don't expect it, so no one bothers! The main course of sausage and fried cauliflower didn't go over very well, though I did feel like we were getting a taste of "real" Russia and not just the high-end touristy part. That evening we were all happy to return to the comforts of the Golden Eagle, docked at a siding for the night. Ah, finally a good sleep!
Double-click the arrow for a few photos of Novosibirsk: