We used the train to get from Minsk to Moscow. Surprisingly for us it turned out that this method of transportation was a little bit more expensive than the other one…..but then if you think about it; it made total sense as you could actually comfortably sleep.
The total cost of traveling between those two “countries” per person ended up around 500.000 Belarus Ruble which is about $33 and the total time of travel was around 10hrs. We used parenthesis when talking about two “countries” because Belarus and Russia are basically the same country with 2 different names. Why?
* Well the first of all at the border of Belarus we had to fill out the custom declaration form that was for those 2 and only countries.
* The second of all borders between those two countries are almost invisible, and when crossing you don’t even know that you are on the territory of the other country.
* The third of all and most obvious is the fact that only 5% of Belarus population speaks Belarusian, and the rest 95% speaks Russian. The couple that we were staying with in Minsk were the best example of that unity. Both of them were young born and raised in Belarus, but between themselves they were communicating in Russian.
When we were in Russia I’ve heard the story about Belarusian girl that got her university diploma and was very surprised that all of her personal information were written in her “native” language and she wasn’t able to read it. If this was a true story or not it is hard to say but with other circumstances we are easily convinced that this could actually happened. We have found out from our Moscow host, who happens to be a history teacher that Belarusian language was “artificially” made just to meet the standards of the previous Soviet Union countries- to have their own national language. The language was invented but in real life only minority of Belarusians are using it.
The last example that this language is going to extinct I had an opportunity to witness myself. While we were visiting Minsk we were accompanied by a Finnish tourist, and just like us his knowledge of Russian and Belarusian was to a bare minimum. At some point he started to correct the girl who was speaking in her “native” language.
When comes to the standards on the train-they are pretty good. We were in this part of the train called “plackart” which is the train compartment without the doors and assign sitting/bunk bedding. After a little commotion at the train station we were comfortably seated in our bunk beds that in couple of seconds can be changed into little tables.
Considering the fact that I’m not the shortest dude ( 6.2ft) I couldn’t fully extend my legs, but i knew this is probably one of the most comfortable ways of traveling for us anyway……….I decided to go with the flow and i can honestly say that I had a full blown rest!
On the train we were able to make some new Russian friends and as usual there was enough alcohol and cigarettes to be shared among us all. The gentlemen on the picture below didn’t speak any English and our Russian is far from perfect as we had more hand movements than the actual conversation. It also turned out that counting to 10 in Russian, couple of small talks and three “cheers” weren’t enough to have the conversation flowing. Although you have to know that we put a smile on every Russians face when they heard about 2 bald headed Polish maniacs with their Australian hats on who cheer to “ cztoby huj stajal i dengi byli” – which is basically toasting to our dicks that they will always be hard and that we will always have enough money.
For about 25 Russian rubles ( about $0.70) you can order a very good coffee through the train conductor. Toilets are clean and it never runs out of toilet paper or running water. The interesting thing are toilet seats which has bumps in it- the reason is…..when you use the bathroom while standing on the seat of the toilet ( yes you read that correctly!) and if the train suddenly stops those bumps will prevent you from falling down and you won’t lose traction.
The overall experience in “plackart” was very pleasant. The price included clean sheets, blanket and place to sleep. There is also smoking room that is so full of cigarette smoke that you can literally cut the air and your eyes burn like hell after couple of minutes. What is interesting is that you can’t open the window that is there. Why? Previously mentioned Russian gentleman was trying to explain it to us but unfortunately we haven’t understand a damn thing. This will be a mystery for the rest of the trip.
As we still “nie gawarit pa ruski” we already love this place. We will see if the rest of the trip will be as pleasant and nice as this one 🙂