Monday, July 28, 2008: Leaving Moscow

We left our bags outside our hotel rooms before breakfast, to be delivered to the train. After a quick daytime stop in Red Square (better for photos), we headed for a tour of an underground Cold War bunker. It turned out to be so much more interesting than I expected! I especially enjoyed seeing a video about the Cold War done from the Russian perspective. It was a good reminder that there are two sides to every story....

And that was it for Moscow! Our next stop was Kazansky Station and The Golden Eagle, our home for the next 12 days. The station was busy and we were all very excited to board the train. It was shiny blue and gold, and laid out like this:
  1. Engine
  2. Staff Car
  3. Passenger Cars #6-10
  4. Dining Car
  5. Kitchen Car
  6. Dining Car
  7. Bar Car
  8. Passenger Cars #1-5
My car, #10, was at the far end. There were 4 doors between each car. To get to the first dining car I had to go through 20 doors. To get to the bar car was another 12 doors. If I needed to see someone in the first passenger car, I had to open and close 52 doors! And that's just one way.

We had lunch immediately after boarding the train. All our lunches and dinners were 4 courses--an appetizer (often salad) followed by soup, then the main course and dessert. I felt like I gained 5 pounds before I even got on the train! Our first meal on the train included a very thin-sliced, cold, smooth textured something-or-other. Some thought it was butter, some thought maybe chicken or turkey. It was hard to tell, though later we learned that it was a Ukrainian specialty--LARD.

We spent most of the afternoon settling into our compartments. Martin and I made the rounds and showed everyone how to operate their sinks and showers, toilets, lights, air conditioners and cd/dvd players. It was tricky at first, but easy once explained.
The compartments were 100% efficient and functional. I loved mine.

Each car had two attendants, one of whom was always on duty. They were there to help troubleshoot, turn over the cabins from night/bed to day/couch, and always had tea and treats available. The car #10 attendants were Nikolay and Yuriy, whom of course I had an immediate affinity with because of my own Jack Yuriy!

We had our second lecture from David that afternoon, on Stalin in WWII. Actually, the Russians call it "The Great Patriotic War." David's assessment of Stalin: a monster who was also a great wartime leader.

And then it was time to eat again! Dessert was Russian ice cream, which Martin thinks is the best in the world. He might be right.

Check-out the slideshow, which includes several shots of my favorite part of the train, my bathroom(!):

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