Ovenight trains and platzkart wagons are one of the most common features of Russian life, but this phenomenon is not well-known to foreigners. Imagine this: Total strangers
One day, Ilaria Kantorova, a young Moscow photographer
"It seems that I lived an
She closely watched these people who just met without any rhyme or reason other than that they were issued a train ticket in the same wagon. These strangers, however, would often quickly bond, sometimes revealing personal details, things that they might never tell even close friends and family.
"They managed to become friends, and in the next minute they might quarrel, but then again start chatting as if they never had any disagreements in the first place."
Why do these people take such a long journey? Some said they were tired of their own kids, while others were returning home after a long separation from relatives. There were also those going to find work, and those returning home after an unsuccessful job contract. Some people, just like Ilaria, were on a journey in search of themselves.
"I don't know where my place is; I just want my life to be interesting," a woman said.
Another train ritual is renting bed linen and making your bed. Ask someone who is taller to help you take a mattress from the third shelf. When you’ve made your bed, the
Tea can be considered Russia’s main national drink; not vodka, as you might think. And there’s a certain romance to train tea because it’s served in the Soviet tradition, in a glass with a decorated metal holder, called a
The rest of the time people read, talk and play cards with strangers, and pass the time looking out the window, watching the trees and fields pass by. Any Russian can tell you that there’s nothing more meditative than looking out the window, pondering life or dreaming under the train’s rhythmic clatter.
Read a day-by-day diary of traveling on the
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