"So, why are you in Omsk?" This was asked to us a few times now. This did not fill us with joy considering we decided to spend 10 hours in the wonderful city.
So exiting the train we had to deposit our bags in the left luggage which was the most highly secured fortress I had ever entered. A heavily armed policeman allowed us to enter the metal gated area one at a time and demanded our passport. After a few minutes of shouting at each other and pointing we finally left our bags ready to explore the city.
After purchasing a map we set foot on a trolley bus which is an unnecessary form of transport considering there is a tram and bus system and in most other cities there is a metro so why on earth do you need what is essentially another bus service that requires a whole load of infrastructure.
How do you waste 10 hours in a city that you don't really want to be in and there is really nothing to see? The answer is to eat, drink and visit pointless shops that you are never going to buy from. We started our day with a cultural visit to KFC. Where we had two family buckets between 3 people. Probably not the recommended dosage as I later found out. The main architectural attraction was the opera house which was shaped like a ski slope and was a hideous monstrosity. The other city attractions included a metal man pretending to climb out of a manhole cover on the street. This was not a thriller by all means. I have had more exciting s***s.
We also past time by looking in an electronic goods store analogous to Currys, again, just to pass time. However this time we drew the attention of a security guard as we probably didn't look like the average punter as I was wearing rustic shorts by Hollister and looked like a tramp. We were persistently followed through the shop by this single security guard despite actually probably having more money between us than everybody in the shop. We decided to cause havoc and split up so the security guard would be utterly confused and not have enough brain cells to comprehend what was happening. As our predictions he was severely perplexed as what was happening and decided to go to the other end of the shop, probably to ask for assistance. By this time we had all called it a day and left.
The rest of the day was spent having tea and coffee in a japanese restaurant which seems like the fashionable thing in Russia. We tried to pass time by going on a boat tour through Omsk however the boats conviently didn't run on a Monday which was much disappointment to us all as we just wanted to sit somewhere and listen to history for 5 hours.
We arrived at the station 3 hours before our train was due as we need to redeem our tickets which is easier said than done when all the ticket machines are in Cyrillic and we literally don't have a clue. We therefore decided to go to the ticket box where a woman can do it for us but rather than understanding that English people have a completely different alphabet and cannot read the machine she rather helpfully pointed to the machine and began serving the next customer. Oh yes, that's another thing. Queuing in this god forsaken country is beyond a joke. There is clearly somebody waiting in the queue and then some tosser just stands next to you and then leans on the serving counter in front. Although 9/10 times they have no intention to get served infront of you just their queuing position puts me on edge. But another pet hate is when you are at the counter getting served another person just rudely interrupts and tries to get served. I was at one ticket office where 3 people were getting served at once. Unbelievable. So after being told by the idiotic ticket woman to use a machine we don't understand a kind station alcoholic came to our assistance and helped us print out our ticket.
So onboard our train we didn't get off with a good start with our carriage attendants as she refused help to find my passport photo page and took it rather offensively. The next offence we were guilty of was drinking vodka in the corridor which we receive a Russian lecture for. We preceded to now call them the train Nazis from then. To compound all hatred towards us as Marcus departed the train to stretch his legs at a station he landed in a puddle and splashed Goebbels. I was surprised we were allowed back on the train. Then our guilty charges were staying up too late, having stuff on the floor when she vacuumed and then eating the mars bars left in our cabin that we deemed to be complementary.
So today we have received 3 meals that we chose from a menu with a choice of 3 things. So for breakfast I had Cabbage Soup then Fish Schnitzel and mash potato. The mash was creamy enough had sufficient texture. The schnitzel did contain fish to our surprise and was pleasant once you avoided the bones buried in the deep in the fried breaded fish item.
For lunch I had cabbage soup, again. However this time it had a slightly more shade of pink to it and rather than malt bread we had White bread. Although the bread had an unusual flavour as if it had been left to ferment. Main course was neck fillet of pork. The name is far more glamourous than the actual dish served to me. Small pork cubes with macaroni pasta and 15 peas on the side along with mayonnaise.
My third and final culinary delight of the day included Cabbage soup for the third time then main was boiled chicken and rice. Literally that was all it was half a chicken drumstick and some rice. Not much else to report other than they managed to serve all three meals in completely different containers ranging from plastic plates to polystyrene boxes. I am arriving in Irkutsk at midday tomorrow 13th July. I am now GMT+9 the biggest difference i shall experience. So looking forward to Lake Baikal tomorrow and seeing what is happening around the lake.