The first overnight train we took was on the main trans-siberian railway line. This was a modern train with the comforts of hot water, a restaurant, and a motherly carriage attendant who bustled about cleaning after us several times a day. We settled into our sleeper cabin with two middle-aged russian men who occupied the bunks below us. With much gesturing and face pulling, we figured out where one friedly roommate was from, where he was going to, how to store our luggage, switch off the lights, the radio and lock the door. Meanwhile, the other roommate aka “grumpy” occasionally grunted in our direction, frequently left the cabin for a smoko and otherwise snored... very loudly! We slept uneasily the first night and when we awoke, the room was a smelly sauna.
The next day we decided to try out the restaurant car. This turned out to be a cosy little parlour serving beer and simple food prepared by a raggedy cook smoking a cigarrette, whilst russian soaps were playing on a tiny TV in the corner. Here we met other travellers who were taking the trans-siberian and trans-mongolian routes, we shared a few good yarns which helped the time pass as the Siberian forests swept past outside our window....
2 days and 1500 kilometres later, we disembarked for our first stopover.