After a quick pool on my personal facebook asking my friends and followers which of the many adventures we had last week in Russia was the most interesting, the “The Russian Railroads Adventure: a night train from Saint Petersburg to Moscow” was by far the most voted.
So, let me present you the incredible tale of two Brazilians trying to get on board on a night train in Russia hours after the biggest military parade ever made.
“Hey, am I on the right place? I can’t read weird letters.”
Everything started when Timetravels invited us to go to Russia with them. Timetravels is a wonderful Finnish tour company that can deliver magic if we’re talking about how much fun it is to travel with them and everything for prices that you would not believe! Check them out asap!
So, back to Russia.
We went with Timetravels for the Grand Russia Tour that they have but instead of going to Novgorod, we stood one more day in Saint Petersburg for the military parade of the 9th of May. Because of that, Timetravels managed to get us on board of the coolest soviet russian train ever! It was one of the high points of our Russia trip for me, the Russian Railroads were always on my top list of things to do!
Our train was scheduled to departure around midnight from the Saint Petersburg central station. Since English is not the strongest skill for Russian people in general, we had to arrive there with at least 30min in advance. Reasonable, huh? NO!
We found out that everything, absolutely everything in the train station was only in Russian and only in Cyrillic. Crazy!
The biggest station of the most well known city in Russia has ZERO preparation for tourists. Or, at least, tourists without Russian skills. Can you imagine how great it was to get there and…. PAAAANNN, have the biggest question mark on your forehead. It was funny!
This actually reminds me to give you this glorious advice for your first trip to Russia: I strongly suggest that you take either a tour with a guide or go with Russian friends, ok? They are still getting ready for the world cup but there’s a looooong road for that.
Since our lovely guide Eugene gave me a wonderful piece of paper with all the Cyrillic letters to our Latin alphabet, I wasn’t thaaaat lost over there. Knowing at least the sounds of what is written help you a lot! Believe me when I say: try to learn the Cyrillic alphabet before going to Russia, since learning Russian is basically impossible.
Long story short, Russian people are amazing and even without knowing a word in English, the officers on the station could guide us all the way to the right platform and once you find your train, you’re good! Always have printed out your ticket, ok? Or at least all the info about platform and so on in your phone. If it is in Russian and English, better!
Worst case scenario, just enter the St Petersburg Central station, pass through the door, go all the way to the end of the station, turn left and you will find all the trains there, ok? Pretty easy, just do not panic and you will be fine.
Well, we were there, looking for the platform 5 and I was amazed by how organized everything is over there!
It is so cute to see every door of every train with a person really well dressed waiting to help you find your cabin! Russia can deliver great service! Impeccable!
For our surprise, the soviet Russian train dated from somewhere around the 1950’s, had an awesome and fast internet, free water, sleepers and a great space for your luggage, a flat screen TV, tooth brush, tooth paste and they even wake you up with breakfast!
It was one of the nicest trains I ever got in my life! Broke that shitty image that I grew up with, you know? That everything in Russia was grey, awful and didn’t work properly… That’s all propaganda from the cold war, guys! Russia is colorful, full of great people, amazing service and interesting things to see and do all over!
Gotta add to this post that the bed, even though is a little small, it is very comfortable! Try to get the bed in the bottom if you’re like me: a disaster on getting to the upper bed in bunk beds haha
We arrived in Moscow really early but the lady on the train woke us up more than one our before the train stopped, so we had time to wake up with their hot and black coffee, go to the bathroom to become a person again and change back to normal clothes! It was great!
Next time I’m in Russia I will for sure do the Russian Railroads trains again and you should do it as well!
If you decide to go with Timetravels, talk to them! I’m pretty sure they can arrange everything for you and your friends, they can even help you with the headache that it is the Russian visa! A train would not be a problem, I guarantee it! They organize or kinds of tours, from students and low budget all the way to grown up travels! But if you want to go and plan your trip yourself, no problemo. This post from Vagrants of the World will help you with everything you might need to know for planning your trip to Russia.