I just wanted to let you know what a marvellous time I had on my trip. There were so many wonderful experiences, though sometimes the train journeys could be a little tedious! Often the company was interesting though. Everything went off well – even when the driver was a bit late at Yekaterinburg – it was because there had been a heavy fall of snow and traffic had been slowed up… I suppose I had also not expected the driver to be female and was looking for a male on the platform. I think we must have just missed each other.
Both the homestays were the highlights of the trip! The afternoon I arrived in Severobaikalsk, Larissa, who was great fun, took me to hot springs across Lake Baikal. It was absolutely what I’d wanted to do – drive across the frozen lake. I had no bathing suit for the hot springs, but wasn’t going to miss out… The air temp was about -18 degrees, the water 47 degrees! The following day, my guide was a retired female civil engineer who’d been responsible for building many of the buildings in Severobaikalsk, including the railway station – she was very interesting. My hostess in Yekaterinburg was also delightful. And the day trip to Perm 36 was well worth it. As well as my guide for the day (Tina – her English was perfect), we had a young historian to guide us round the site. And the driver spoke English too and he dropped me back in town, kept my bags in his car for a couple of hours while I went to an art gallery and had a snack before the train, then picked me up again to take me to the station.
In the towns where I was entirely on my own, I often used public transport and did a lot of walking! Tynda was the coldest at -32 degrees, but I was there for only 4 hours. I did get a bit weary towards the end, and my short time in Moscow was just right – but what an impressive city it is! I even coped with the metro. I’m really looking forward to going back there to see more.