We took the overnight train from Petrozavodsk to Moscow. We got the 2 side beds, the lower bed can be converted to a table and 2 chairs. It was very hot in the train, forbidden to open the windows. As before, the ventilation is turned on about 45 minutes after departure. We read, eat, look out of the window. After an hour or so, the train stops (for 30 minutes, sais the announcement). People get out, walk on the platform, buy food (one can even buy a whole smoked fish there…).
On one of the seats next to us, there’s a man of around 65. After some time he starts talking to us, using the title of the book I’m reading as an “excuse”. He introduces himself as Oleg. He speaks very good english, that he has learned from a canadian teacher back in the 60ies, when people came to the Soviet Union from the USA and Canada as volunteers to “help” the Soviet people. “That’s how I learned proper pronunciation”. He wanted to become a teacher, but had to go to the Army. He lived in Eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia for some time, then worked for Intourist (the Soviet travel agency).
“Why don’t you travel business class?” he askes us (meaning second class, with 4 bed compartments). He has never seen foreigners travel 3rd class…
At some point I go to the bathroom to change clothes and prepare for bed. When I come back Miguel is making my bed (which means folding down the table, unrolling the “mattress” and prepare the sheets and pillow). Me: “??” Miguel: “He suggested I make the bed for my lady while you’re in the bathroom”. 🙂
Later on, I’m already in bed but still reading (yes, there was still light at 11 pm, thanks to northern latitude). Oleg comes back from the bathroom and sits on his bed. After a few minutes: “If you don’t mind, please don’t look in my direction. I will get changed.” Ok with me, I’m reading anyway. After 2 more minutes: “You are now free to look where you want.”
And he goes to sleep, his feet sticking out from under his cover.