31 July we paid for someone to clean the apartment, got our deposit back from the landlord, and loaded 5 people, 3 carseats, 3 Trunkis, 5 backpacks, 5 suitcases with wheels, 3 carryons with wheels, two Ikea bags of pillows, 2 Ikea bags with houseplants, and 2 bags of food/kitchen stuff into a minivan taxi.
Taxi to train station, where we got ripped off by some luggage carriers, who said we had to pay them 3,000 rubles (over $50 at the time) to take our stuff to the train, or else we would have to carry it ourselves up & down two flights of stairs. Turns out you can just go around the train station to the actual platform, and we didn't need the stairs anyway. This was Kazanskii vokzal, at which trains go in the direction of, you guessed it, Kazan, and beyond, but through Kazan. (Moscow has 7 major train stations and 3 major airports.)
Boarded the train 10:00 pm, got the kids settled, though it was a long time before they slept. We thought about buying a compartment of 4 beds (two upper, two lower), but didn't think we could fit the luggage in, so we bought two compartments of 2 beds each (K and A as the smallest shared a bed). Good thing E and K and A have seen the first two Harry Potter movies, because they were so excited to be in compartments -- are we really going to Hogwarts? (no). Well, let's pretend we are going to Hogwarts, until at least midnight.
Most everybody slept, at least a little, until the train made its first stops on Saturday about 5:30 am. Our ticket prices included one meal, plus we had a lot of food with us, so we never did see the dining car. But between books and coloring and plopping on the piles of our pillows and train pillows and looking out the window, there was plenty to keep the kids busy until we arrived in Perm at 9:30 pm, Perm time (which is 7:30 pm Moscow times).
All trains run on Moscow time. It is tough, for getting to the station in time to meet a train, to remember the train arrival and departure times are listed on Moscow time. But when you are ON the train, the "internal" time ALSO runs on Moscow time, and this makes a lot of sense, so when you order dinner, you look at your watch still on Moscow time and you know how long til dinner, or how many hours/days you have been on the train. But a little disconcerting for really far away places.
There are towns for which trains stop (long stops) and towns which stop for trains (whistle stops, where an entire economy springs up around selling stuff from the platform to the people on the train).
Our total train trip was 21 hours on the train. Getting too and from the train was much harder, the train itself is the way to go! No traffic jams, can stretch your legs, can read a book (if the kids let you...)
On to Perm!