Departs Moscow Yaroslavsky Station at 11.29pm from 5 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad.
We arrived at Moscow’s Yaroslavsky Station in good time for our 11.29pm departure. Missing the train when traveling on the Trans-Siberian didn’t seem like a wise move so we tended to show up 1-2 hours before the departure times just to make sure that we were in the right place and knew exactly which platform our train would be departing from. Even at the late hour Yaroslavsky Station was especially busy so it took us a while to find a seat in the vast waiting room. We then searched for an ATM so we could withdraw enough cash to last us for three days although when we found out that most of our meals would be included it negated that concern.
About 45 minutes or so before the departure, we carried our backpacks down to the platform and were soon allowed to board the train. We found our wagon fairly easily and the provodnitsa showed us to our compartment. Each wagon is assigned its own provodnitsa. Ours was a short, firm but friendly lady, bundled up in a blue overcoat. She worked shifts (though we rarely saw her “night” counterpart) and was responsible for sweeping and hoovering the carriage corridor and each compartment at least twice a day. She would also lock our compartment from the outside when we wanted to visit the dining car.
The room was small and cosy with single bunk beds on either side separated by a flip-up table. With only the two of us, there was plenty of space to store our luggage as well as wall hooks for hanging coats and towels. Both beds lifted up to reveal storage space underneath the entire length of the bed and above the sliding door, there was a television screen with space around it for more bags. The TV monitor hooked up to a DVD player and the provodnitsa had a collection of DVDs, which she showed us in case we wanted to watch a film. She asked us on numerous occasions and seemed amused that we were able to keep ourselves occupied the whole time without watching a single film during the entire trip.
Before we discovered the joys of the shower room, we took an improvised wash in the bathroom, which consisted of a metal toilet and small sink. As one might imagine, it isn’t the prettiest room on the train but it’s bearable and regularly cleaned and you become quite adept at stabilising yourself as the train jerks abruptly from side to side. In the first class wagon, they provided us with a small travel kit that consisted of toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, wet wipes and a shoehorn. There was also a timetable left on the table, which detailed the time of every single stop between Moscow and Irkutsk and for how long the train would stop at those stations (continued in Part II).