Day 8: Arrive in Ekaterinburg by Alice
After spending one night and one full day on the train, Eva and I start to run out of ideas of things to keep ourselves busy with. With plug sockets of 50 W, watching a film is a little compromised. Hoodie up and earphones in, Eva looks like she is ready to jump off the train any minute now. So it’s a relief when we finally arrive in Ekaterinburg. We sling our backpacks across our shoulders (Ouch – they’re still just as heavy!) tiptoe out of our cabin, glance left and right to make sure our pervy tormenters two doors down are nowhere near in sight, and leg it off the train. It is 11:40 pm Moscow time, 1:40 am local time.
Once at the hostel entrance – a large dimly lit green metal door and next to it a tiny sign scribbled on the wall, barely visible, reads ‘Meeting Point’ – Eva and I look at each other in disbelief. Katya, our host, is eagerly waving at us from the 5th floor.
We step into what looks like someone’s living room, which turns out, in fact, to be Katya’s living room. She has turned her flat into an 8-bed dorm.
I’m finding the whole thing pretty amusing. It reminds me of a previous trip to Datong, an industrial town in China. Ekaterinburg is just another big industrial town, but a historical heavyweight nonetheless, being the city the Romanov royal family fled to during the Russian revolution before being brutally murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Think a bloodier version of ‘Anastacia’ by Disney and you’re halfway there.
Katya, who by this point is looking a little sleepy-eyed but still full of enthusiasm, quickly talks us through the main sights of Ekaterinburg in perfect English with melodic Russian undertones. She explains there is red line running through the city, marking the path to follow from one sight to the next. This includes the Michael Jackson statue, the tallest unfinished tower in the world (Eva’s favourite…or not), the Beatles monument, and not far from the river, Katyas favourite, a giant keyboard.
As Eva and I are getting ready to hit the sack, the other travellers start trickling in, mumbling something about ‘beer balls’ in German. Before long, it becomes clear there is not a great deal to do in Ekaterinburg, so we decide to get the next train out of town the following evening. The electrical socket above Eva’s bed, which is already looking a little battered, explodes when I try to plug in my phone, sending Eva and I shrieking into the room next door in a shower of sparks.
Time for bed! Fingers crossed we don’t get surprised by more fireworks during our sleep.