Journey to Tomsk

Monday 31/07 – Train to Tyumen / Tyumen

We woke up at 5:30am this morning.

The taxi organized by the hotel seems to be the van used for the milk delivery (big jugs in the trunk, where there was hardly enough space for our bags among them) The driver likes to listen to ‘Retro FM’ loud.

We reached the station (located 15 km from the center) one hour before our 7:30am train.

Once in the train, we ate the breakfast pack prepared by the hotel.

I read Michel Strogoff to the kids. We need to read more often because we are already halfway between Moscow and Irkutsk while Strogoff is only arriving in Nizhny Novgorod.

We were planning to study in the train this morning but (coincidence?) the kids fell quickly asleep and we let them sleep nearly the whole (5-hour) trip to Tyumen

We read. Through the window, we could see more birches than in our entire life… And we saw a lot of merchandise trains (gas, coal, oil…) too.

We arrived in Tyumen at 12:30pm. Our next train (a journey of 19+ hours between Tyumen and Yurga, to reach Tomsk) is at 5:15pm.

We basically had 3-4 hours to spend in this town and we decided to go and see the Trinity Monastery along the Tura River. We first went to the Central Market to buy some fresh produce for our lunch but it was exceptionally closed. There were only a couple of stalls outside, where we could try bear meat! It’s quite good; we bought a piece. We then went to the supermarket where we bought stuff for a nice picnic (tomatoes, mozzarella and bread). We went to the monastery by local (mini)bus.

We then walked to have a quick look at the Bridge of Love before walking back to the train station, where we got back our luggage, which we had left in the left-luggage lockers.

Our train to Yurga left at 5pm. I shared my compartment with an Italian guy living in Brussels (!), his Bulgarian girlfriend and her mother. I’m very surprised that there are so few tourists in the different trains we’ve taken so far. There are mostly Russians. The atmosphere in the train is rather quiet, most people staying in their compartment, where they eat most of the time. This train is, for the first time, the “real” Trans-Siberian, going from Moscow to Vladivostock (#100). It is unfortunately much older than the previous ones we’ve taken and less comfortable (no mattress for example).

This time we (Isabelle in fact) managed to have a good working session for the kids (French conjugation and vocabulary, and maths). For diner, we ate our instant noodles. We even found Hoegaarden beer in the restaurant-car. I then read a few chapters of Michel Strogoff to the family and went to my compartment around 10:30pm. Kids seem to enjoy the story; it’s great.


Tuesday 01/08 – Train to Yurga + Bus to Tomsk

We got up around 10am local time. We indeed again crossed 2 time zones during the night. We are now 4 hours ahead of Moscow. In all stations the trains schedules are mentioned in Moscow time. A bit tricky but we got used to it.

Another efficient studying session for the kids while I write pending posts for the blog.

One hour stop in Novosibirsk, Siberia’s largest city (and its capital). I went with Jules and Florence to the toilet in the station. They indeed close the toilets in the train 20’ before and after most of the stops, for sanitary reason; moreover the toilets are cleaner than in our train). We also bought a few stuff (water, bread and fruit) for today’s lunch.

We arrived in Yurga at 2:30pm. For the first time, no one is coming to pick us up at the station. Tomsk is indeed a bit remote (and not on the Trans-Siberian rail track) and travel agencies usually don’t have any local representative over there. So we have to organize ourselves.

We had to find a local bus for the 2-hour journey to Tomsk.

We quickly found the bus stop (where we were glad to shelter ourselves from the short but heavy rain). But we had no idea if there was the bus stop for the buses to Tomsk. We asked several people (thanks mainly to our translation app) but we didn’t get any clear consensus about the answer. After 15′ a minibus stopped and local people waved us to take it. We didn’t know where it was going but we trusted them. We took more than half the space inside (it was full with only 4 other people). After 20′ it stopped at the main bus station, where a young lady proactively came and helped us to ask for 13 tickets (including 8 for our luggage).

We had 1h30 to spare in the bus station. We prepared some soft sandwiches (with tuna and corn) – not the most memorable lunch of the trip.

The bus journey to Tomsk was not too long (1h30). We settled in our hotel (ideally located for us, 100m from the bus station and 100m from the train station, from where we’ll depart tomorrow evening to Irkutsk).

We went to eat excellent pasta in town.


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