Taking a Ride on the Russian Rails

Taking a Ride on the Russian Rails

THE SAMOVAR AT the end of the carriage hissed in a friendly way and a bouffant-haired stewardess—our provodnitsa—patrolled the corridor issuing instructions about bedding. On the platform, a platoon of young Russian soldiers, green plastic sandals swinging from packs, said goodbye to their mothers and girlfriends in shafts of pale summer sun. The 658AA St Petersburg-Petrozavodsk express was about to begin its daily nine-hour journey to Karelia, Russia’s swampy north-western republic.

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