(ABOVE: St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia) (picture courtesy of http://world-visits.blogspot.ca)
My husband and I celebrated our exodus from working eight years in China by taking a five-day trek on the Trans-Siberian Train from Beijing to Moscow. I turned 60 somewhere in Siberia.
The meal cars changed for each country.
MISSING THE TRAIN on the third day was our only mishap; we had to hire a local from the very small town to drive us to the next stop in Irkutsk — almost two hours at break neck speed over mountains, curves, driving on shoulders and wrong side of road, but with a very competent driver who spoke no English. Note to fellow travelers: ask the conductor how soon will depart before venturing off to take pictures!
But this was the first church to spot in Russia, and thinking we had 20 minutes, it seemed a grand idea to stretch our legs and snap a photo! Imagine our surprise to see our train chugging out of the station!
Running pell-mell to locate someone to stop the train, I tripped on a curb and landed on my chin. But no one spoke English. My husband calmly said, “We need a taxi.” I thought taxi? This town is only the size of a church and a train depot! They won’t have a taxi!
But taxi proved to be a universal word and a middle-aged backpacker spoke enough English to explain to the station master that we needed a ride to the next stop. She called a local man who spoke no English, but was kind and drove fast to get us there in time.
Olga, who prepared all of our meals on the train in Russia, cleaned up my bloodied knees and treated my sprained wrist.
Boy were our friends surprised to see us on the platform waving to them at that next stop. What had been a leisure two hours for them was a helter-skelter panic for us. Thank God my husband remains composed under pressure. One more demonstration of how CALM is the best approach to catastrophe!