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A hot and sticky city – Perm
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Sat 1 Jun ‘13 – day 21  I heard faint male and female voices from the berth below me until the early hours, but just closed my eyes and drifted off back to sleep.  I slept intermittently as the air-conditioning outlet was adjacent to my berth and this was actually forced air, so the faster the train goes the greater the blast that was emitted.

I got up and went to the toilet and then stood in the corridor watching the world go by; at 0515 hours the train made a stop for 20 minutes, so I alighted and had a walk to stretch my legs as the top berth was much shorter than the lower one and so it was impossible to fully extend my legs.

When the Provodnista gave me the signal I got back on-board and returned to my compartment; it smelt of garlic sausage and sweat, but I climbed back to my berth and had another three hours sleep.

The train made another long stop at 0900 hours and people are now up and moving around, so there plenty of smokers on the platform kick starting their lungs in to action.  I do not know how many toys the Babushka hoped to sell.

Once the train had left the station and the toilets had been reopened I had a strip wash in cold water before stripping my berth and returning the bed linen to ‘She who must be obeyed’; you always get a smile and a nod when you do this as it means that it is one less task for them to do.

Perm is the eastern most city in European Russia and I have crossed two time zones since leaving Nizhny Novgorod, so now on Moscow time +2.  On my next train journey I will cross the border into Asia.

There was a huge marshalling yard just before we arrived in Perm 2 station and my Transfer was waiting right by the carriage; he told me that he had been to London four times, so spoke reasonable English.  He was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser so there was a little more protection that some of the taxis I had been in and as we drove into Perm along Lenin Avenue (every town and city has one) he pointed out all the sights.

He helped with check in and getting an appointment at the barbers shop in the hotel foyer before I went up to my room to drop off my bags.  This was an old soviet style hotel where all the room keys were held by the ‘floor lady’ who it seemed would hand them over only very reluctantly and then only after checking the ‘chit’ that I had been given at reception – old habits die hard.

It was straight back down to the barbers for a Number 2 all over, eyebrows trimmed and ear hair removed, all for about the same price as at home.  I just wonder how much a local would have had to pay.

Back to my room and having unpacked I prepared for a stroll down towards the river, but it was very hot and sticky.  The viewing platform on the escarpment above the river was fenced off as remedial work was being done and so I was unable to get a decent view of the Kama River; this is 1805km long and is the longest left tributary of the Volga.

Opposite the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul was a decent looking coffee shop so I stopped and had a cappuccino and a piece of cake.

As my legs and lower back are feeling sore, I made my way back to the hotel and bought a bottle of water on the way (no one drinks tap water!!).  The lady laughed at my pronunciation of ‘Thank You’ in Russian and corrected me – it is not “Spa-si-bo”, but “Spa-see-bow”.  Now I know.

Back in my room I stripped off and had a snooze as I am starting to feel my age and the short (ish) hard upper berth last night certainly didn’t help matters.

During the night we passed the most northerly point of my journey (not including the flight home) and when I checked the guidebook and map it was at Kirov where I had my very early morning stroll.

I read the Lonely Planet guidebook to work out what I was going to do tomorrow while drinking lots of water.

The journey from Nizihy Novgorod to Perm was 936km long and took 14 hours 9 minutes and by rail I am now 1434km east of Moscow.

It is nearly midnight when I finally go to bed and it is still daylight outside.

This is the end of week three of my trip and it has flown by.

Sun 2 Jun ’13 – day 22  I had a very good night’s sleep in a double bed, the first since Warsaw, so plenty of room in which to move around and a great improvement of the top berth on the train.  There was also a decent pillow on which to lay my head.

I drank lots more water as the hot and humid conditions are making me get dehydrated very quickly, but didn’t bother with breakfast as I was not feeling very hungry.

There was some strange plumbing in the bathroom as there was just a single tap that swivelled between the bath and sink.  I had a hot shower and washed my hair in order to get rid of the smell of whatever it was that the barber put on yesterday.  It was good to feel really clean again.

I went out for a walk and the streets were very quiet even though it was 11:00 hours; people were probably still in bed having been to the start of the ‘White Nights’ festival yesterday.  This is a combination of pop concerts, fairs and cultural events and runs for the whole of June – so party time.

The city authorities have created a walking tour by painting a green line on the pavements which passes all the city’s historic buildings.  There are signs at each point in both Russian and English, so I am amazed even if some of the translation leaves a little bit to be desired.

The walk took me down to a garden overlooking the river where there was a statue of fighters from the time of the revolution.  By the river lots of fishermen are trying their luck; there was rubbish everywhere and the litter bins were over flowing, does no one ever clean up?  I saw a street cleaner who was still using a brush and shovel when a mechanical device was what was needed.

     

A ship was moored at the berth near the River Station and this is yet another place from where cruises are run in the summer months along the massive Russian waterways.

Inland and across the street from the River Station was the old Perm No 1 railway station which is now just used for local traffic but was currently being renovated and upgraded ready for some long distance trains to call once again; next to it was a very old shunting type loco.

There are lots of historic buildings and these include the Opera House and the Archaeological Museum.  There are also a number of pieces of art around the city with the bear which is on the local flag being particularly prominent; there were also some quirky pieces like the photographer and large ears and the headless, footless person.

Tried to get access to the internet at the post office – nyet!!

Back in the centre of town I wandered down to the shopping mall where I had something to eat – not a lot but I felt bloated.  I drank lots of water before heading off to the fair site, but as it was very crowded I didn’t bother to go in.

On my way back to the hotel I saw a London bus, definitely not something that you would expect to see here.

My polo shirt had a salty sweat stain where my rucksack has been resting, so a quick shower is in order before I had a snooze as I am still catching upon the poor night’s rest I had on the train.  I spent the rest of the day relaxing in my room as I couldn’t be bothered to go out into the heat and humidity again.

I worked out how far I will have travelled by rail between Minsk and Vladivostok and will have to do a Google search when I get home to establish the distance between Didcot and Paddington, then the legs from London International (St Pancras), Brussels, Köln, Berlin, Warsaw and Minsk.  I don’t know whether I will be able to work out the distances that I will travel by train in Japan.

Wrote some postcards and will post them tomorrow; they’re the last of the ones from Moscow as I have not been able to find any in Perm.

I feel like an idiot as I realise that I must have left the Lake Baikal and Mongolian guidebooks plus the Mongolian map somewhere, either in the hotel in Nizhny Novgorod or on the train.

I started to pack and then tried to sleep but just couldn’t drop off.