In September 2015, I took the train from Nice to Moscow. Video of the journey and my thoughts on the experience below:
I was in Nice, it was fun. But I needed to get back to Moscow. I could have flown, it would have been easier, faster, and cheaper. But that was boring. I wanted to try traveling more mindfully, so I decided to take the train.
Nice to Moscow is the longest scheduled train journey in Europe. Once a week, a Russian Railways train departs from Nice Gare de Ville. Passing through France, Monaco, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, and Belarus before finally arriving in Russia at Moscow’s Belarussky Vokzal.
I was soon asleep as the train quietly traveled through city centres and countrysides.
I woke up somewhere near the Italian/Austrian border. It was stunning. I had slept great, in a real bed. Not an airplane seat pretending to be a bed, this was an actual bed.
Flying is faster, and we look forward to the destination, but no one enjoys airports and being on an airplane. The crowded lines. The constant stress. The charade of security and indignity of removing laptops, watches, belts, liquids and shoes.
The airplane allows for travel quantity, the train provides travel quality. The sense of distance and motion was understandable.
This was different. The journey itself was an adventure. It was like having a small hotel room which moved across the continent. The entire time on the train I could work, read, sleep, or just stare out the window whenever I wanted. Instead of wondering what I was flying over, I could see where I was traveling through. The sense of distance and motion was understandable.
When I got hungry, I went to the restaurant car and chose my food from a menu. It was made fresh and tasted great… except for all the dill, and why did they serve nacho cheese with the steak? I don’t know, Russia never fails to surprise you, even after living there for 9 years.
The only border crossing stop is from Poland into Belarus. Check out the Belarusian border control officers coming to stamp my passport.
This is also where the wheel gauge changes from European to the wider Russian dimensions. It all happens smoothly, no need to leave the train.
I had another night on the train and arrived in Moscow on the 3rd day. I loved it. I needed to be back in Moscow, but was sad the adventure was over. Thank you Russian Railways, but take it easy with the dill.