30 hours in Platskartny: Part 1- Departure

This post is part of my Russia travel series: Travel stories | Photo gallery

If there is one thing travel guidebooks warn you NOT to do in Russia is to travel in Platzkartny, the third class train compartment. Indeed, the few Russian people I spoke to prior to the trip made all possible efforts to dissuade me from doing this, but I was quite adamant. Then I was taught how to ward off overly friendly travelers who will force you to have some vodka with them, and guidebooks scare you with stories of theft, dirt, noise and (lack of) security etc…

I’m pretty sure that none of them have traveled in 2nd class trains in India. 🙂

Train ticket

My train ticket: Moscow to Adler. Impossible to understand unless you look carefully and know some Russian

Tatt Прийанк Шрикант (Thatte Priyank Shrikant)
Вагон 01/П, Места 051 (Wagon 01/P, Seat 051)
Москва Каз – Адлер (Moskva Kaz – Adler)
22.10, 09.21 (date and time)
1105.0 РУБ (1105 RUB, about $55)
I think that was enough information to have. 🙂

Kazansky train terminal

With a backpack, wearing baggy shorts and a tshirt, as I was waiting for my friend Evgeny at the Kazansky train terminal in Moscow, I never felt so much out of place. Did I mention that Russians dress quite fashionably? And fashionable might mean Eurotrash but certainly does not mean American backpacker look, which I was drenched in. Anyway. Evgeny got my ticket ‘authorised’ from some place and we found my train waiting to be boarded. Then I was alone with a bunch of people staring at me. “Yes I’m from the Indian movies you watch all the time on TV”

Main hall at Kazansky Train Terminus, one of 9 long-distance train terminals in Moscow. There are obscure booths here n there providing train services.

Train platforms at Kazansky, where is my train…?

Trains and people

I was quite shy and hesitant of taking pictures since it was my day 3 in Russia and I didn’t know how people would take it. Well there is nothing to worry – forget what the guidebooks tell you about overly vigilant police who are waiting to prey upon foreigners.

Ah there it was! Clearly marked АДЛЕР (Adler/आद््ल्यर)

My train

I’m fascinated by rail engines, and this one was diesel… so rare to see! Very cool.

See the lady in the uniform with a drag-queen hairstyle? She was the Provodnitsa, the attendant, of my compartment.

Provodnitsa, (प्रोवोदनीत्सा) the lady who was in charge of the compartment, inspected my ticket, tore off a part marked контрол (kontrol), asked for my passport (which she couldn’t read), looked at me (I look different from the picture) and let me in. I dutifully tried to butter her up after the train started (as the guidebook advised) but she was very stern and a I-don’t-ever-smile type person who was very proficient at saying a loud and clear ‘Nyet‘. Only after 8 hours I made her smile with my broken Russian while asking if it was okay to plug my battery charger in an electrical socket in her room.

I will take you on a little tour inside the platzkart coach and the train in my next post. I was happy to be on the train and I smiled to myself as it chugged off 5 minutes later to a destination 1,400 km south on the Black Sea.

This post is part of my Russia travel series: Travel stories | Photo gallery