We arrived in Novosibirsk after two days of train travel at 6am. No café or restaurant was opened at that time – except for one. We went in, and the barkeeper handed us a breakfast menu. After having ordered our dishes, he replied that none of them were available before 8am, despite the fact that this café was declared to be open 24/7. So we asked what we could order at all. “Only pelmeny,” he answered. So we had pelmeny for breakfast. Welcome to Russia!
Novosibirsk literally means “New Siberia”. What you should also know is that it is the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg. When we decided to place our first stop in Novosibirsk, we didn’t know that we would be traveling to a metropolis right in the center of Siberia. Some people even say that in Novosibirsk the center of Russia is located. This might even be true, if you look at the distance between the most eastern and most western borders. A small chapel standing in the middle of the main road marks this supposed center.
One time we went to the bazar to get some dried fruits for our next train ride to Irkutsk. The seller whom we bought from came from Tajikistan and was very eager to have us try about every sort of dried fruit that he had in stock. He was so generous that, by the time we left him, we had eaten a whole meal of dried fruits. For instance, have you ever tried Armenian dried peaches, dried muskmelon or dried kiwi?
In Novosibirsk we tried CouchSurfing for the first time. We had a very good experience with our first host who helped us with everything we needed. He even provided us with a room and a double bed so that our stay with him should more accurately be called “BedSurfing”.
Novosibirsk left us with the feeling of being on the road, of actually having started our world trip. Kazakhstan and Mongolia are “just around the corner”, one day by car. These dimensions completely change our understanding of distance. We have already come so far, we haven’t even noticed it while being on the train. What we did notice from the train were the beautiful sunsets over Siberia every evening. As one of the two travelers in the documentary “2NachShanghai” remarked with a hint of sarcasm:
“It’s getting boring, always these perfect sunsets…”
All the best changes,
Jan & Gratsi
P.S.: Check out our route map to see where we are!