(continued from Part I) Our beds consisted of two cushy bunks, with large puffy pillows, a substantial duvet and an additional blanket. There was no danger of getting cold as the heating was kept at a comfortable temperature. It was, however, a sharp contrast to the outside temperature, which was so cold that it often sent us running back to the train for warmth at the infrequent 15-20 minute platform stops.
The cabins were decorated with four metallic landscape pictures (the locations of which I couldn’t quite discern) and three large mirrors. The curtains were a strange blue and yellow shiny silky material with colours matching the bedcovers and the narrow blue and gold rug that ran down the middle of the room. There were also thick pull-down blinds on each window, which eliminated the light altogether if needed. Piped music played on speakers as we had boarded the train but thankfully there is a volume button within the compartment, which allows you to turn it off.
At the end of each carriage is the infamous samovar dispensing a never-ending flow of hot water. On the first morning, my husband came back with two fresh cups of tea with milk in glass cups, which we would wash ourselves and re-use over the next three days. All in all, it’s somewhat of a luxurious camping experience.
I saved the best for last: the story of how we found the shower. In the room next to us was a young guy traveling from Moscow to Perm. He spoke excellent English and we were extremely fortunate in that we were able to spend our first day on the train in his company. My husband told him about the legendary on-board shower that we had read about in our guidebooks. Our new friend promptly asked the provodnitsa, who confirmed that there was a shower in wagon five. We in turn asked the provodnitsa in wagon five and lo and behold, she unlocked the door to a shower room. Granted, the shower was more of a dribble but there was enough water for me to have a hair wash the following day. So if you happen to travel on the Baikal, take a look in wagon five, or employ the services of a willing Russian speaker to find out where the elusive shower is.