Perm, Russian Federation
Zdrastvuytye! Greetings from Perm (population 1 million). A thoroughly restful and socially engaging 14 hour trip from Nizhny Novgorod (NN), which is on the famous River Volga. After standing on its silt-laden edge, looking across its broad and swift flowing expanse, and also crossing high above it on the new trans-Volga cable car (which links NN – itself perched high on a rampart of an embankment – with the growing satellite town of Bor on the flat forested landscapes on the northern side) I have some serious river envy! But I suppose this is something all Australians will suffer from in these boreal zones of fluvial affluence. Health wise, apart from tired feet and shoulders from walking and backpack carrying, I’ve just a little bit of traveller’s tummy to report but nothing to worry about. I’m loving the strong local garlic! After a full day in NN (see separate blog – if I get to it) I caught the 23:00 service heading east to Siberia. A lovely Siberian couple with their 10 year old son shared my four-bunk section of the dormitory carriage to Perm. They fed me sweet stewed apple-filled buns and gave me tea bags to use with the samovar (hot water service at carriage’s end). I’m getting the hang of things now in this quintessential trans-Russian public transport. It seems I’m slowly building up to the truly mammoth journey times required to make head way across Russia. And it may appear I’m progressing in a vaguely logarithmic fashion. From SPb to Novgorod it was three hours in the electric train. From there to Moscow it was 8 hours. From Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod (NN) a little step back with six hours journey time. From NN to Perm was 14 hours. And tomorrow, on a train trip to one of the most northerly points on the Siberian rail network near the Ob Gulf just shy of the Arctic Circle. (Note: they’re building a rail link further north still, to the west of the Ob Gulf, half way up the Yamal Peninsula, Western Siberia). Tomorrow’s trip will be 40 hours! The place on my ticket just below the Arctic circle says – in Cyrillic- Новый Уренг
86;й. I think it may go further than this out to the Ob Gulf. I’ll find out I s’pose. I’ve no idea what’s there. The Lonely Planet is silent in the matter. I’ll have to come back south on the same line to continue my journey east on the main west-east lines. In short I meet kind people everywhere. But no English speakers since I left St Petersburg (SPb) and Moscow. Mile after mile of green forests of pine, spruce, fir, beech and oak. I can see Russia has most of the world’s supply. Huge expanses. And the look of the people is slowly changing as I approach the border between Europe and Asia. It’s been flat mostly from SPb, Moscow and out to here in Perm. But as my logarithmic journey times continue I expect things will change. They always do.