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[00:00:00] Intro + Music
Owain [00:01:16] Hello and welcome to another episode of English Waffle. We're here again with John. And if you remember last time we were talking about his love of train travel.
John [00:01:28] Absolutely.
Owain [00:01:29] And you're back. John, thanks for coming in again.
John [00:01:31] No problem. Pleasure.
Owain [00:01:32] We're going to talk about one of the trips that you got planned to...I think it was for October, but you've postponed it now till February. Well, you tell us where you're going John.
John [00:01:40] So I am, uh, I am going to travel from Nuneaton, which is in sort of East Midlands, sort of Leicester, Derby, Nottingham area. I'm going to travel from Nuneaton to Vladivostok.
Owain [00:01:52] Vladivostok!
John [00:01:52] ...by train, by train only.
Owain [00:01:55] What, John?! How...? That's a long way to go.
John [00:01:58] I think...I think it's about ten and a half thousand kilometres. I think, or ten and a half thousand miles, something along those lines. It's a it's a very, very long way.
Owain [00:02:07] OK. So, John, why...obviously we know you're a fan of trains.
John [00:02:10] Yeah.
Owain [00:02:12] Why Russia?
John [00:02:16] Russia, of course, is a is a is a country that's always in the news at the moment. And I think one of the things that often is, is that is that perhaps the true story of what countries are like isn't often reported really accurately. And so really the only way to find out what a country is really like is to go and visit it. And I think to fly in, fly out is a quick way. You only see the part of the country that has been sort of prepared for tourists. And I think I think really it's it's to travel all the way...the whole width of Russia by train would be just a great way of seeing the country. Every part of it really.
Owain [00:02:58] Right, okay, so what what what is the impression most Brits will have of Russia, do you think? Is it is it dancing bears playing instruments? Things like that or...?
John [00:03:06] I...I think there's. I think there's. I think there's just a view. I mean, there's obviously...there's obviously the the image that's portrayed quite often is of a quite austere country with quite authoritarian, with a lot of rules and everything like that. But a couple of people I've spoken to went out during the World Cup, said that it's the reality of it is very, very different...
Owain [00:03:26] Yeah.
John [00:03:26] ...to the perception that a lot of people have. And so it's that, you know, that that would be if I was to take a stereotypical view of it, that would be the view that people would have. But I mean, there's plenty countries I've been to that people have a completely different view of. You know, for example, I've been to Poland quite a few times.
Owain [00:03:45] Right.
John [00:03:46] And a lot of people have a, have a very sort of influenced view of what Poland would be as a country.
Owain [00:03:55] Yeah. I've seen in the news that politically it's quite...problematic.
John [00:03:58] Yeah. I think there is sometimes, yeah, I think sometimes you have to. I mean a bit. I mean I think sometimes you have to separate yourself. You know, obviously there are countries in the world that I wouldn't travel to, on principle. So, so there are certain countries with certain attitudes and certain ways of behaving that would prohibit me from travelling to them, because I would I wouldn't want to see...But I mean, you know, what we always should remember is, is that there a our political system here may be viewed by other countries as being kind of extreme or being, you know, anti-democratic and things like that. So there is that kind of view that can be, you know, our perception of another country can be echoed by a perception from another country of our country. And so, yeah, I mean, it's it's I'm there to sort of see the country and not to see the...I mean, I don't know, I don't think that that. I don't think that visit to see Mr. Putin is included in my train ticket.
Owain [00:04:58] You're not going to...
John [00:04:58] I'd be delighted if he's there, do know what I mean, you know, I mean, you know, we can go and wrestle a bear or...
Owain [00:05:03] Do you think he likes trains? Does he travels a lot by train, or...?
John [00:05:06] Well, it's the Trans-Siberian is the is the absolute jewel in the crown for Russian transport, if...I'm led to believe.
Owain [00:05:14] Okay.
John [00:05:14] I hope I haven't been misled.
Owain [00:05:15] Well, yeah, let's look at that. So what are you what are you expecting from the trip? What are the things you're looking forward to most?
John [00:05:19] Okay, so so what I'll...the, the...my sort of itinerary will be is...
Owain [00:05:23] Yeah.
John [00:05:23] ...I travel from Nuneaton to London.
Owain [00:05:25] Right.
John [00:05:25] ...on a local train. And then I go on the Eurostar from London to Paris.
Owain [00:05:31] Right.
John [00:05:32] And then I'll go to sleeper train from Paris to Moscow, which takes a couple of days.
Owain [00:05:38] Nice, right.
John [00:05:38] And then I shall go on the... I'm keen to go on the I think it's the Rossiya train, which is I think is...I might be wrong on this. I think it's. I think it's the double O two train. I think th...there's a double O one, double O two, double O three, double O four...
Owain [00:05:55] Right.
John [00:05:55] And I think they're all the Rossiya trains which are the...which are the real ones, you want to get on.
Owain [00:05:59] Okay. And when you say real, these are not designed for tourists?
John [00:06:04] Oh no, no.
Owain [00:06:04] These are actually for people who just travel through Russia.
John [00:06:05] These these are...Yeah. These are these are...Yeah. These are...so, they're sleeper trains, and everything like that, but they're not the ones that've been taken out of commission, turned into five star hotels and rolling across country side now with people serving silver platters. They will be the real genuine proper trains.
Owain [00:06:20] So none...none of these five star hotel trains for you. No comfort. You just want the bog standard...
John [00:06:26] Absolutely.
Owain [00:06:27] ...train that everybody travels on.
John [00:06:28] And as, and as...'cause I'm going on my own.
Owain [00:06:30] Yeah.
John [00:06:30] I think there are there are there are three levels of of travel on th...the main leg of the journey goes from Moscow to Vladivostok and that takes six nights, seven days.
Owain [00:06:41] Wow! Ok.
John [00:06:41] I may break the journey at a place called Irkutsk, which is near Lake Baikal. I may break the journey there, but I'll have to see how I get on with that. There are three levels of travel. There is there is first class, there is Kupé, which is a second class. And then there is what's called I think...Platzkart I think is how you pronounce it which it's third class.
Owain [00:07:02] Okay.
John [00:07:03] So first class has two berths in one room.
Owain [00:07:05] Right.
John [00:07:06] Second class has four berths in one room and third class has 54 beds in one room.
Owain [00:07:11] Okay. So just to cover berth is like a bed.
John [00:07:13] Yeah. Yeah. Berth. Yeah.
Owain [00:07:14] Yeah.
John [00:07:15] So...but you get sheets provided there is...a samovar on each carriage. Which...
Owain [00:07:20] Sorry? A what?
John [00:07:20] Samovar. Like a hot water boiling water dispenser.
Owain [00:07:22] Oh right.
John [00:07:23] So you get one of those. There's two attendants for each carriage. So...
Owain [00:07:27] Okay and they kind of, they...
John [00:07:29] They...keep the place...it's the pride of the Russian train network and so they keep it clean. Very proud to travel...
Owain [00:07:35] They keep it...they keep it clean like...
John [00:07:36] Clean and tidy.
Owain [00:07:36] Do you order food from them and stuff as well or...?.
John [00:07:37] There's always a restaurant car on there.
Owain [00:07:38] There's a restaurant car. Okay.
John [00:07:40] I'm in training already.
Owain [00:07:42] In training?
John [00:07:42] In training. Absolutely. To, you know, to ph...to physically prepare myself for the journey.
Owain [00:07:47] Oh, okay. So physical training?
John [00:07:48] Yeah, yeah, I started...I started on a quarter bottle of vodka a day and I'm moving up now so...by next week I should be on to a third of a bottle. Apologies for any...if any offence has been caused...it's a stereotypical view.
Owain [00:08:01] Well, I think that I as you know, John, I teach English to a few Russian and...
John [00:08:06] Yeah.
Owain [00:08:07] They're well...you...well aware of the perceptions we have of Russians. And just to confirm for any stu...of my students are listening, John, is...that's a bit tongue in cheek, isn't it?
John [00:08:18] Absolutely. Yeah, I'm joking. Yeah.
Owain [00:08:19] You're aware that most Russians only drink...a bottle a day.
John [00:08:23] Yes, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. But we can't...we need to establish what size the bottle is. (Do you know what I mean?) Whether it's a miniature or whether it's a, you know, a magnum.
Owain [00:08:32] Actually, actually, seriously, though, are you are vodka fan? Do you drink vodka at all?
John [00:08:36] I drink a little bit of vodka. I drink a little bit. You know,...
Owain [00:08:37] I can't stand it, to be honest, I'm not a fan.
John [00:08:39] Well, you know, you ju...vodka and a little bit of vodka and lime, vodka and apple juice is nice.
Owain [00:08:43] Ah ok. Maybe I've got the wrong mixers.
John [00:08:43] Chilled vodka.
Owain [00:08:47] Okay, well, and obviously one of the things you'll be looking forward to is seeing how they drink their vodka in Russia. One other thing you might be looking forward to is putting into practice a bit of your Russian, that you're learning, yeah?
John [00:09:00] Yes. So I am I am I am attempting to learn some Russian which which is so I can I can say something like 'zdravstvuyte'.
Owain [00:09:07] Ah ok. What does that mean?
John [00:09:09] Hello.
Owain [00:09:09] Oh, okay.
John [00:09:11] So, it's 'zdravstvuyte'...'menya zovut John...ya anglichanin'. I think. I think that is...I think that is: 'Hello, my name is John. I am English.'.
Owain [00:09:23] Oh, ok, perfect, yeah.
John [00:09:25] And it's it's a very long time since I've done any...I've been involved in any education.
Owain [00:09:29] Yeah.
John [00:09:29] And, um, one of the things that became rapidly apparent when I was researching into this journey was the fact that significant parts of Russia speak no English at all.
Owain [00:09:38] Yeah.
John [00:09:39] And a lot of people have said that they struggled on the train journey because they found nobody who speaks any English.
Owain [00:09:44] Right, right.
John [00:09:44] Or nobody who wants to speak in English. And so if I speak Russian, I think it will certainly make my journey a bit more enjoyable.
Owain [00:09:52] Well, I'll tell you what, John, I mean, you are probably unusual in that you are actually making the effort to learn...I mean because you started, you started a few months ago, right?
John [00:10:03] Yeah. Yeah. So I've done about 10 weeks of it. So I can sort of order a few drinks now. I can count to 20. I can I can sort of asked people where they're from. I can ask where things are. I can..I don't get everything right...yeah, yeah. I don't get everything right in terms of tenses and phra..and, you know, the genders on words and things like that, but I'm hoping to have enough to be ab... I'm hoping to...I'm hoping to get pub Russian.
Owain [00:10:30] Yes.
John [00:10:30] So that I'd be able to have a drink with somebody and have a general conversation.
Owain [00:10:34] And then and after that after you've talked about weather maybe or something and where you come from.
John [00:10:39] Yeah.
Owain [00:10:40] Just kind of smile and nod.
John [00:10:41] Yeah, absolutely. You know what I mean. But it's should make the journey a bit more enjoyable.
Owain [00:10:44] Yeah, no and it's fantastic. And I think I think it's a great advertisement for British people in general, because I think we're famous for not really bothering to learn any languages really so I think it's fantastic.
John [00:10:57] We were born with a natural advantage of speaking English.
Owain [00:11:02] Yeah.
John [00:11:02] From from birth, which is a huge advantage worldwide.
Owain [00:11:05] Yeah. We're really lucky actually.
John [00:11:06] Absolutely.
Owain [00:11:06] We can go round the world with very little effort, except to places, of course, where we're expecting to be able to speak English and then find that nobody understands a word we're saying and we certainly don't understand what they're saying.
John [00:11:17] No. Absolutely. So. So. Yeah. So I'm hoping that the Russian comes in handy.
Owain [00:11:20] Okay. So could...how would you say goodbye in Russian? Thanks and goodbye.
John [00:11:25] 'Spasibo'.
Owain [00:11:26] 'Spasibo'.
John [00:11:26] I believe that's right. 'Dasvidaniya'.
Owain [00:11:29] 'Dasvidaniya'. So 'spasibo', 'dasvidaniya', John.
John [00:11:32] 'Spasibo', 'dasvidaniya', Owain.
Owain [00:11:32] Okay. Thank you and one last...good to...have a good trip. Do you know how to say it?.
John [00:11:38] I haven't covered that yet.
Owain [00:11:38] You haven't covered that yet, well, may...that's something to look up. Okay. Thanks, John.
John [00:11:43] No problem. My pleasure.
Owain [00:11:44] Cheers. Hope...hopefully we'll have you on again sometime.
John [00:11:45] Absolutely. No problem at all.
Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express