Wednesday was another hot day in Volgograd. I ate sushi for lunch (less widespread than in 2012 when I first travelled in Russia) and went to a “British-Russian” pub to watch the Morocco-Portugal game. The pub felt quite as it should, though it had run out of London Pride and had shamrocks over the bar. The bill came in a telephone box:
A couple of Icelandic women came in. They remarked that two thousand Icelanders would be in Volgograd for the match against Nigeria. They reminisced boldly about their times in France two years ago. I reflected that their Norwegian ancestors used to “go viking”, matching themselves against the warriors of warmer, more fertile countries in the south.
The Moscow train left at five. (I look at this photograph and hear my brother asking, is anything in focus?)
Going along, as it got dark, I read How to travel without seeing, by Andrés Neuman: A journal supposedly reflects our thoughts, experiences and emotions. Not at all. It creates them. If we didn’t write, reality would disappear from our minds. Our eyes would remain empty. I went to sleep early on my top bunk, alone in the compartment. Other people got on in the night: four year old Jarek, his father Sasha, and his grandmother. In the three minutes allowed for the stop she settled them properly down and got off.
From Moscow they were flying home to Vladivostock. Sasha’s English was decent. He said his Chinese is about the same. That’s the language he aims to get better at, because he uses it in his antiques business.
One of the things to like about long-distance trains in Russia is the samovar opposite the prodvenitsa’s compartment. You can use it to make tea. Or pot noodles. In our carriage an English group seemed to have chosen this as their food for the tournament.
However, there was no restaurant car. I hadn’t brought food for the 21 hour journey. When we came into Moscow at two yesterday afternoon I was hungry. I spent the rest of the day watching the day’s three games in different bars, eating piles of prawns, vegeburgers and other things, and drinking decent wine.
These prawns (described as from Magadan, which seems unlikely) all came with eggs attached. Is this is a Russian preference?
I watched the second half of Croatia-Argentina (3-0) in a sports bar on New Arbat Street. At the end of the game the Russian commentator said Today, you don’t cry. I’m still working out what that might have meant.
I ended the evening in a bar where you can pay to activate a tap that allows you to serve yourself red wine. I didn’t.