As our Polish train approaches Moscow, the scenery looks quite different from the rolling English countryside I wrote about in the last post. It's a lot flatter for a start. The buildings are commonly made of wood. I must admit, I'm a bit in love with Russia after only two hours.
It feels good to be here at last; a day later than planned. Less than twenty four hours into our trip and our first significant* blunder made itself known. As we were about to board our train for Moscow at Warsaw, we realised something odd: the train was to make a stop in Minsk, Belarus. We don't have visas for Belarus. In fact we had specifically chosen this particular train, on the advice of Seat 61, because it did not go through Belarus. The train had other ideas.
So we disembark at the Polish border town of Biala Podlaska. A kindly taxi driver shows us the embassy, followed by the bank where we need to pay for our visas the following morning, and then to a nearby hostel. The entire journey, he is telling us all sorts of useful information. Unfortunately he's telling us this in Polish and he doesn't seem to understand that we don't speak the language. In fact his response to our puzzled looks and shrugs is to talk louder and faster. For reference, if this happens to you, you shouldn't pay 50 Zlotys for a taxi from the station, 10 is more than enough.
It all worked out ok though and we got back on the train and even ended up in a better carriage. A big thank you to Marcin in Warsaw, whom I met at the Do Lectures last weekend. He helped us do battle with re-booking our reservation at the ticket counter.
Strangely enough, had we not made a complete pig's ear of it all, the section of our trip from London to Moscow would have been comparable in price and time to flying. Unless you fork out a small fortune to fly directly, you must stopover in Copenhagen. We've seen so much already and the trip has only just begun. Despite our best efforts to sabotage ourselves, or perhaps because of it, we're having a great time already.
*I did also walk into the gentlemen's toilets in Brussels Midi, startling a small urinating boy. No (more) Manneken-pis jokes please!