Our hotel is on the fourth floor of an massive tenement across from the railway station of “Tankograd”. The building has it seems a mix of apartments, offices, stores and hotels. There is wireless internet and guarded parking for the bikes behind the building, should we need them. There was hot water last night, but the kind receptionist who spoke a little English warned us that there will be no water at all today.
The breakfast was rather strange…the receptionist took a Russian language breakfast order form, annotated it with English translations, but then took it to the cafe next from the hotel door (still on the fourth floor) where a staff of four women almost completely filled the tiny space all by themselves. There they asked us if we would like “sandwich with sausage and cheese” vs. “pancake”, “salad” vs “porridge”, optional “omlet”, and “tea” (with milk?) vs “coffee”. They filled out the form for us, and then asked us to sign it. Jerome has asked for his sandwich without cheese, but ended up getting one without sausage instead.
By this time we received a couple of replies to my couch surfing plea for help at the railway station with getting the bikes back in the afternoon, but we decided to scout the train station by ourselves first.
We walked through station gates with the ever-present and always-ignored metal detectors to the information desk. There the woman spoke no English, but pointed us toward the left. There we got to a younger lady who seemed to be in charge of the toilets, but she was a tiny bit more helpful, and told us to go downstairs to the baggage claim. At the baggage claim a young man indicated that he spoke no English but called out his boss from the next room. This man spoke some English and was kind enough to take us all the way to the freight railway station, which was a ten minute walk away. There he spoke to the clerk and let us know that the bikes will be unloaded, and we should come tomorrow morning to pick them up. Communication was not good enough to get more details. As we were leaving, we hear “Hi guys, where are you from?” and we are promptly introduced to Ilya, a couch surfer who says he works here near the railway station. He double checked with the clerk for us that the train is indeed coming tomorrow and we should not worry about the disembarkation of our stuff. We arranged to have dinner with him tonight.
Afterwards Jerome bought a Russian SIM card so that we could more easily call people and have internet access, it seems my Swisscom SIM does not work totally reliably here.
Now we will try to do some sightseeing in this place.
Here are some photos from the sightseeing. I also added another post about the train trip with photos.