If someone wants to get to the other side of Russia, there are only a few feasible options available: either flying, the most obvious and fastest one, or taking the train, the slowest but more interesting one.
I picked the latter as it would give me not only the chance to see a bit of Siberia in winter but also to experience the famous Transiberian Train: “At a Moscow-Vladivostok track length of 9,289 kilometers (5,772 miles), it spans a record eight time zones. Taking eight days to complete the journey, it is the third-longest single continuous service in the world.”
Wanting to head to Mongolia, I would stop at Ulan-Ude (roughly 3/5 of the complete route), after 4 and a half days of train.
The train, to me, seemed very “Soviet-style”, both imposing and experienced, you could almost feel it had done the route many times before and this was just yet another day of work, nothing special. But to me, and certainly many others before, this precise moment felt historic, at least on a personal level.
After an extra moment of mindfulness, I breathed in the cold air of Moscow in November and approached the 2 Russian ladies checking the tickets. Only when it was time to hop on the train did I realize how tall the train is, perhaps to make it easier for the staff to clear the accumulated ice.
The inside of the train was simple but complete: it had beds which turned into tables and seats, a boiler for water (perfect for instant soups and tea: some of the main entertainment), toilets, restaurant and, for the higher classes, even showers and private rooms.
The Transiberian adventure was about to begin!