Here is a first list of interesting encounters: first and most importantly, the two owners of the hostel in Kazan. Two very nice boys, really into their mission of providing Kazan with options for young travellers. They spoke good English and were extremely helpful and nice, in particular with Odd and his weird footbalistic requests. At the same hostel I met a very nice girl, who was very happy to practice her English. We talked for a good half hour and she told me all about her life, her job as a lawyer that paid 300 dollars per month and her dream to move to New York. The second interesting encounter was on the train from Kazan to Yekaterinburg. We hopped on at 4 in the morning to find a sleeping man in one of the beds. A few hours of sleep later we all woke up and tried to communicate. He knew maybe 3 words of English, but he somehow managed to tell us that he is a musician from Yekaterinburg and that he had been working non stop in Moscow, playing for three days and three nights and if we would excuse him he really needed to g back to sleep. After a two hour stop in Yekaterinburg we took the less fancy non-firm train to Novosibirsk, which, as Odd says, seemed more authentic. And here comes the last interesting encounter, a little girl, maybe 3 years old, who has been playing with us for most of the trip. She approched me with a bored expression, I imagine looking for some entertainment and I made a funny face back at her. That was enough to establish eternal friendship, and so she kept coming back to our compartment demanding attention and trying to bring along her younger brother who could barely walk and was interested in a big red balloon. All in all, the first long train experience was good, apart from a moment of desperation where we thought we had lost all our remaining train tickets. Ah, and we also bought our first transiberian snacks from two women on the platform in Omsk, one of which was a strange frittella/pancake made out of caviar and the other one a sort of calzone stuffed with misterious green stuff. We are still alive for now, but we'll see how our stomachs react later.