Going to Murmansk – one of the twelve Hero Cities from Soviet times – was a very last minute decision for myself and my husband. We had already planned to make a long excursion to Kiev and Moscow via train during the three weeks Sean was going to be here in the post-Soviet space, and we didn’t know if we would be able to handle two more days on the Russian rail – only this time, heading to the Arctic Circle. But, we decided we are only young once and may never have the opportunity to “just do” something like this again. Sean booked the apartment and I bought the train tickets – it was a done deal. The day after Christmas, we boarded an 11 a.m. train and began our rail excursion into an area of the world that seemed foreboding and intimidating.
The train to Murmansk is very slow – 27 hours and without a cafe on board. For those of you who have ever traveled Platz-car (third class) on the Russian rail system, you know how difficult it can be when occupying two top bunks. Needless to say, we really missed the cafe – where you can actually sit up and not be confined to a narrow space for 27 hours. I decided to divide my Murmansk posts into two or three parts because I took so many photos. This first set of photos is dedicated to our train travel and arrival in Murmansk.
Let me please say a few words about Vanya – he was Sean’s lower bunk mate and new friend. He and his mother were on their way to Murmansk to visit his father, who he will be staying with for the next three months. His mother lives and works in St. Petersburg. Vanya immediately took to Sean when he agreed to play LEGO’s with him. From that point on, whenever Vanya was awake, he was asking Sean to play. He asked me to take his photo the day we arrived in Murmansk – you will find that photo below along with the one I took of him while he was sleeping.
We also met a young man of 25 years who had been on the train for 2 days already and was on his final day of train travel to Murmansk, where his wife and young son live. He works in Sochi and his wife and one year old son are in Murmansk – he will be staying with them for one month during the New Year and he was very anxious to see them.
I could go on and on about the train travel and all of the wonderful experiences of riding third class with the Russians, but I will leave it to your imagination and just allow you to look through the photos that transpired along the rail – our first trip to the Arctic. As for Murmansk, you will be able to see a brief glimpse of it and where we stayed, but a full account will definitely need to wait for my next post detailing this industrial wonderland. Happy New Year – or as they say in Russia, С Новым Годом!