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Seeing Russia by the Trans-Siberian Train

One of the most romantic and memorable trips that one could take during a visit to Russia would be on the Trans-Siberian railway. The train is world-famous and many have called it "the ride of a lifetime."

The train departs from Moscow and meanders its way through the countryside and cityscape of old and new Russia with dots in such cities as Novosibirsk (the capital of Siberia) and Lake Baikal. Construction of the original railway was started in March 1891 by Emperor Nikolay The Second, but it wasn't until 1904 that the first travelers got a chance to experience it.

There are 3 classes of trains in Russia: 1st class (2-berth compartment), 2nd class (4-berth compartment), and platzcart (open sleeping car with 54 berths). First and second class compartments are exactly the same except for the number the people sharing the space. Beds are usually comfortable and there is plenty of space to move at ease and store luggage.

Each wagon has two shared toilets (no showers) and a hot water boiler where you can get tea anytime of the day. The provodnik (conductor) is in charge of maintaining the peace and making sure everything's all right. There's a restaurant onboard, but it's usually too expensive, so most people bring their own food. At train stops along the way, you can also buy food from the locals, who sell everything from homemade potato pies to smoked fish.

Remember, the total journey from Moscow to Vladivostok takes about 10 1/2 days and covers roughly 12,000 kilometers, so be prepared for a long ride. It's always helpful to bring plenty to read and things to do, such as music or games. For those of you who speak Russian, you'll be able to meet your neighbors and learn about local Russian cultures. Most people taking the train are friendly and they're usually more than happy to interact with foreigners.


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