Well, we are still on the train 42 hours after leaving Irkutsk and we have another 6 hours before we leave the train at Ekaterinburg. Today is Sunday and I’m thinking of that traditional Sunday Roast, so I thought I would post an article about our food on the train (which I will get to shortly).
Just now, we are half an hour behind schedule. One of the reasons is that a tourist in the next carriage (not one of our group) is quite sick and he has needed to see a doctor. A man and a woman, obvoulsy doctors, appeared in their white coats and took some time before they left again. Kostya, our guide, has been very busy interpreting.
We had heard stories about the dining car on the train being booked out by large tour groups, making it difficult to get food. That perhaps may take place more frequently on the trains heading east than our westerly bound train. On our first train from Vladivostok, we were the only people using the restaurant car as the local people thought that the food on the train was too expensive. On our first night on this train from Irkutsk, the restaurant car was booked out by a large French group coming from China. Fortunately, we had finished our dinner by the time that they arrived.
Our standard meals have varied between food that we bought at a supermarket before getting on the train and generally one meal a day in the restaurant car. At most of the stations there are grandmothers selling pancakes, sausages in pastry and other assorted snacks. Kostya generally helps us find something nice for a snack at each stop.
Breakfasts have typically been instant noodles, an apple and a cup of coffee made from the coffee bags that we brought from home. Thank heavens for decent coffee! For lunch, we have been having dark bread, cheese and sausage.
At the end of every carriage is a Samovar with hot water that is safe to drink and we use that for making coffee, tea and our instant noodles. Otherwise we use bottled water for everything including cleaning our teeth.
The restaurant car on this train is only a short walk backwards for two carriages along this train although on our first train it was a long hike though seven carriages. It seats only 30 people so we need to be prepared in case we can’t find a seat. We have a couple of packs of dehydrated meals that we bought from home but we are hoping not to have to use them as we are having too much fun trying out the local food.
For our evening meal, we have typically eaten in the restaurant car, although it is open for all other meals as well. Last night, David and Tony from our group joined up with a Russian policeman and an army major for a few glasses of Vodka. I think that after the first three glasses they were actually able to understand each other even though David and Tony have no Russian, and they couldn’t speak English. The major commanded a long range rocket unit and he was not impressed with my suggestion of dropping one on George Bush.
One night for dinner, we had beef and on another we had stroganoff. Both meals came with fried potatoes and a few other vegetables. The meals were a bit greasy, but better by far than not eating at all. Mostly we have been enjoying various soups which are filling and tasty. Generally there is a choice of Boorscht, Shchee, or Solianka. I always thought that Boorscht was cold beetroot soup, but here it is hot and contains meat vegetables and sometimes rice. A meal like this, together with a bottle of ordinary Russian wine comes to about $Aud 13. There is a good selection on the menu although only about half have prices indicated in pencil denoting that that these are the ones that are available.