It’s Sunday afternoon, and in a couple of days I leave for Russian and my Trans Siberia Railroad trip from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok! Twenty three days and some 6537 KM across this vast country.
But here in Toronto for the first time in a very long time it is sunny outside. As a matter of fact, I put the cushions out on the balcony furniture and I was sitting in the sun doing my crossword puzzle until I got too warm.
Below me it is as if someone opened the gates and there are people all over the place – the tour boats are out in the harbour filled with visitors, there are couples pushing carriages, people walking dogs, bicycling, wandering along the boardwalk, and children playing in the park. Others are lying on the grass, reading or just soaking up that sun we have all been longing for, and I am happy to pick up a few rays and perhaps a bit of colour before I leave on Tuesday May 7 for Russia.
Am I excited? You betcha!! I have never been anywhere near Russia and I am so looking forward to visiting this fascinating country of which I know very little. I am anxious to meet people and see for myself what this country is all about. What are the people like? Happy? Downtrodden?
In my mind, for years Russia was considered “the enemy”, and there was friction between Russia and the west. The USSR was considered a super power right up there with the USA, until their economy fell apart with the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991. Stories of food shortages and labour problems painted a picture, for me, of a poor colourless land, with a huge gap between the rich and the poor. Is it still like this? I hope to find out.
Russia is the world’s largest country by landmass – some 6.6 million square miles and I will be travelling from one side to the other – St. Petersburg to Vladivostok – through eight time zones!! (Canada is the second largest country in the world with 3.8 million square miles, while the US is in third place with a landmass of 3.7 million square miles.) Russia has a population of just under 144 million. Canada’s population is just over 37 million and the USA is just over 327 million.
Packing has been somewhat of a conundrum. They said pack light and in the same breath said pack warm. I have been juggling clothing. I guess layering should be the answer. I am also packing gluten free snacks at least. Not sure how readily available GF is. Certainly not at all on the train I’m told.
So I head out in a couple of days, full of excitement and expectations, with eyes wide open and ready to soak up whatever I find…… which may be a lot of vodka if you watch the YouTube Siberian train videos. At least it should keep me from freezing to death. St Petersburg here I come……