Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

3.12.12

Soaking up Siberia - Vodka (and Wine)

I'm positive it's possible to travel across Russia without having a single drop of vodka, but I have to admit did have a drop or two. We bought a bottle of locally made product from a shop next to Moscow station to be consumed by taking a shot once or twice every day. Strictly for medicinal pruposes, you know. I have never been any particular fan of vodka, even though I'm supposed to live on the Vodka Belt, but normally I won't turn down a shot if offered.

Salmiak vodka and some Chinese buildings at the background.
Travellers on the Trans Siberian railway are often advised to be prepared of getting a share of local passengers' provisions. It's also advisable to offer your food or drinks to other people travelling with you. So I grabbed a bottle of Salmiakki Koskenkorva, a popular vodka-based Finnish liqueur spiced with salty liquorice with me to be shared during the trip. Since I travelled the first half of the Trans Siberian trip in the first class compartment, there wasn't too many opportunities to share anything. After Irkutsk there was an American father & son in the same compartment with us, but since the boy was clearly under-aged, I decided better not to offer any alcohol around. Food-based supplies were shared, of course!

After 9000+ kilometres and half a  litre of vodka.
When we left Ulan Bator we got new train and new mates to share the train car compartment. Whether it was a pure coincidence, or some sneaky antics of the Mongolian railway authorities, they were Finns! Several thousands of kilometres through two continents, and here we sat, four Finns: us, father and son and our new travelling companions, mother and daughter. It didn't take too long to dig up the salmiak vodka and raise a toast to being a Finn on a Trans Siberian train. During the next 24 hours we had toasted the whole bottle empty, not much before the train pulled to the railway station in Beijing.


If you watch carefully, you might spot our wine bottle
on the other side of the window.
I mentioned wine in the topic, didn't I? Yeah, we had some on the rail. In Moscow, when we purchased the medicinal vodka bottle at the shop near the station, we also bought a bottle of wine. To go with the meals, you know. There was a good assortment of wines to choose from in the shop, many brands being familiar from Finnish alcohol selling establishments already. It was good wine, I have to admit. However, it remained the only bottle of wine we ended up having during the trip. Beer seemed to be the most suitable (alcoholic) drink for the hot hot hot summer of 2010 on the Trans Siberian railway.

Previous chapters of Soaking up Siberia:
- Tea and Coffee
- Kvass

2 comments:

Trans-Siberian or Mongolian Tour Specialist said...

Cheers to your wonderful Siberian holiday! Thanks for sharing this marvellous post too. :)

Escape Hunter Travel Writer said...

One of my dreams is to travel with the Trans Siberian train from Moscow to Vladivostok, but a stop-over in Irkutsk would be great!