Life on the Train
The Trans-Siberian is not a railway especially arranged for tourists; it’s just a means of public transportation. You will spend your days in the train meeting new people, chatting, eating, playing games, reading and enjoying the changing landscape through the window. You will be able to get off and stretch your legs at the train stations, where the train stops for 5-20 minutes. Getting to know the locals is guaranteed. You might find yourself drinking vodka with a Russian soldier, discussing politics with a Chinese academic or sharing a bottle of Russian champagne with a Mongolian businessman.
Types of trains and classes
You can choose between first class and second class. A first-class compartment is shared by two passengers – there are two lower berths one oposite the other with a table between them. A second-class compartment is shared by four (there's quite plenty of space, comparing to European trains). The beds are two by two one above the other. There is a small table next to the window and enough space for luggage. There are bedcovers and pillows, and at the beginning of the journey, you get bedclothes. Each wagon is being kept in order by two train attendants. They will make sure your journey passes smoothly, exit at every station and remind you to get on the train before it has left, and offer you hot water for coffee or tea.
There is a restaurant on the trains where both the staff and the menu change depending on the country the train is crossing, so the quality is difficult to predict. It is a good idea to bring along some supplies, but you will be able to buy very cheap, fresh and tasty food at the stations. You can buy everything: from a bottle of beer or water to home made boiled potatoes, eggs, cakes, chicken breast, vodka, smoked fish and fresh vegetables. The train-attendants also sell some not expensive snacks and drinks, so you won’t get hungry.
Hygiene, toilets and showers
Each carriage has its own train-attendants who does the daily cleaning. At each end of the carriage there is a toilet with a WC and a small sink. It is advisable to bring liquid soap and soft wet pads with you.
The best time for the journey is from April to October. The winter is bitterly cold but, if you are not afraid of the frost, you’ll experience Siberia covered with snow. Only the locals travel in winter – there are virtually no tourists. And it is quite warm on the train.
You should carry your own luggage. That's why we recommend you to bring racksack with you instead of a suitcase. It is far more comfortabe mainly when climbing up and down the stairs at the train stations.