Mon 27 May ’13 – day 16 It is an early start today as I am taking the train to visit Vladmir, one of the Golden Ring of cities surrounding Moscow.
My taxi arrives at 06:00hrs and it is a quick ride to Kursky station as there is little traffic on the road at this time of the day. Everyone entering the station or arriving by train has to go through security checks as the threat of terrorism is ever present. Boarding is announced and signalled on the indicator board so I make my way to the platform where the high-speed Sapsan train is waiting; this platform is wired off from the remainder of the station and all passengers have to go through another set of security checks.
The carriage attendants (all ladies) are standing by the doors, just like on Eurostar, and I present my passport and ticket for checking. These trains are the pride of RZD the Russian national railway company as they are the most modern on the network with the carriages having very comfortable seats. I have a window seat, but yet again rearward facing although I am at a four person position around a table.
A party of school children occupy most of the seats in my vicinity, but a male teacher sits next to me.
Once the train has left the city behind I see lots of small wooden houses each on its own cultivated piece of land; it is very green which lots of birch trees.
This Sapsan is heading for Nizhini Novgorod with the other route on which it used being between Moscow and St Petersburg. Although it is billed as an express train and is much faster than anything else on the network, it cannot reach its maximum speed as it uses the normal track rather than a dedicated high-speed line.
We arrive in Vladmir on time and I alight and leave the station and see that there is an old steam locomotive on display and this is something that you will see right across the network. Directly outside the station is the bus terminal where there are vehicles of varying antiquity, but all are in working order and set off to their various destinations.
As I head for town I have to be careful where I walk as the whole of the car park is covered in potholes that are filled with dirty muddy looking water. On the main road buses and cars are whizzing by as it is the rush hour. Once in the centre of town I spent ages trying to find either of the internet cafés listed in the guidebook without any luck and the hotel listed as having internet facilities didn’t even exist.
I skipped the MacDonald’s and went to a café in the shopping mall for a coffee and a piece of cake and then wrote some more postcards; I am feeling very weary due to the lack of a decent night’s sleep and my continuing sore throat and headache.
I wandered around town taking pictures of Vladmir, the founder of the city in 1157 and then the Golden Gate and the many golden domed churches. The best view was from the top of the escarpment looking to the south across the river and to the hills in the far distance; I didn’t stay here long as the flies and mosquitoes were out in force.
I went back to the shopping mall, had lunch and then wrote some more postcards.
Having seen all the sights I am now just killing time until the train departs; I strolled back to the station and have 2½ hours to wait so I just sat and read my guidebook. There were only squat toilets in the station so I didn’t bother using them.
When the train arrives people are pushing and shoving to get on even though everyone has a reserved seat.
I had a snooze on the return journey and when the train arrived back in Moscow my transfer was waiting, but it was another hairy ride through the rush hour traffic.
I slept in two hour stints due to the heavy rain drumming on the roof.