With apologies for the delay in posting… think of it as an equivalent to our really long train ride ;)!
In case anyone was wondering if I would give some impressions about what life on board the train was like – yes, I will, but I will put all of these in one post, for easier comparison. And I don’t want to give away too much now, so I will wait with that post until after Mongolia.
Right now, we are arriving in Omsk, and to briefly give at least some impression of what it was like on the train: we drank three bottles of cheap Russian champagne the night before we arrived, and I was very hung over. OK that’s enough impression, on to… Omsk!
Where we would be staying with, well… friends of family of friends, or family of friends of family… something like that. Anyway, we were not going to stay in a hostel, instead we would be staying with natives. To appease them and their heathen gods, we (I, really) had been carrying two large tins of Walker’s Real Scottish Shortbread, in the shape of a London double-decker, since we bought them at Stansted airport. Don’t laugh.
Just to get it out of the way, the weather was bloody hot for the entire two days we were there. And as a result, we did not get all that much sleep at night (Diana and Ted were not helped by a self-deflating air mattress, as a result of which they ended up on the floor by morning, and I similarly wasn’t helped by a, how shall I put it, basically V-shaped sofa, as a result of which I, in turn, kept rolling into the valley, no matter what position I tried to sleep in. But I’m not complaining, just stating facts.
OK, enough of introduction
Anyway, on to the major two things about this part of the trip: (1) the city of Omsk, which I thought was pretty OK, and (2) the incredible hospitality of the people that hosted us :)!
I don’t have photos of the hospitality; it is best summed up by the amount of food that we got stuffed with during our stay there. I might forget some things but we had: home-made pancakes with clotted cream and home-made jam (this jar of jam would later travel with us all the way into China); home-made pelmeni with pork and (IIRC) fish fillings; home-made kvass; a 12-kilo watermelon (regional specialty, you see them being sold everywhere); and a three-course dinner at the aforementioned Dutch (errrr) restaurant where we had… just about everything on the menu, including fish, borscht, more pelmeni, vareniki, chocolate cake…
Aside from that, we were also taken around Omsk on foot (-always good, walking through a city; you get the best possible feel for it. Walking is like taking the train, well, a bit.), on three separate occasions – this helped to burn some of the calories we ingested. During the first of these, I was dying from my hangover doing my daily beauty sleep, so I missed that :( (in short, Ted went in search for his roots, sort of).
Then, in the evening, we did a second walk, this time with me present. As I said, I quite like Omsk; here are some impressions.
And before I know it, that’s a big post. I’ll put the second part of Omsk in my next post, that also will allow more space for photos.