July 31- Aug 1
Our first train journey was from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk, 588 km over 8 hrs. We needed our passports to board the train and the bookings were checked electronically by the provodnitsa. The trains are well appointed in second class with 24 berths per carriage. I slept well in our four berth couchette, with blankets and sheets and neat reading lights and two toilets per carriage. We had breakfast of porridge before getting up. The in carriage samovar has been replaced by a hot water heater that we are using avidly. It was useful to have a short journey now because we know what to expect on the train. I enjoy walking up and down the carriage and looking out of the windows.
We had 2 nights In Khabarovsk located in the Far Eastern part of Russia, beyond Siberia. The town had two dramatic cathedrals with glistening domes. Next to one was a huge modernist second world war memorial with thousands of names, just reading them was moving. We visited an excellent museum with displays about life in Russia across the centuries and depicted a gulag camp in the 1940’s. There was a fascinating display of political carpets made over the 20 century and celebrating political leaders including Stalin and a female cosmonaut on a deep blue background. In the evening we went on a river cruise and saw a huge bridge and sunset whilst sipping Russian champagne. People were surprised that English travellers should be in Khabarovsk.
We liked the city, it felt remote but laid back and was easy to walk around. The weather has been very changeable, Misty in the morning, then hot at midday and with rainstorms in the afternoon.