Tales of a Train Ride

Our busy week is over. We're living in Riga, Latvia. I won't say settled, but we're at least in our apartment. Getting here with our belongings was quite a trip, however.

Pictured on the left is the huge stack of luggage that we moved from our St. Petersburg flat to our new one in Riga.

We had decided a month ago that we were going to move on the train this time instead of a plane. We surmised the cost for checked luggage for the airlines was so high that I did research on the cost of luggage on the Russian trains. Their website said that they would allow 200 kg (which is 440 lbs.) per person, so I thought that was fantastic. I even called them - and found someone to speak English - who said yes that was the case, but extra charges may occur.

We booked our train tickets a couple weeks ago. I even went down to the train station and asked about help loading all our luggage onto the train. I was assured there would be someone to help us and even met with the porter who agreed to help us load our luggage onto the train for 500 rubles per bag ($7.50). What a deal! He even spoke a little English.

So we didn't cut too many corners on what to take and not to take. We even packed our vacuum cleaner and fan that we purchased in St. Petersburg. As a result, the luggage piled up in our house.

Porter helping us with luggage
On Wednesday, we called for a cargo taxi to move all the bags, knowing that a regular car wouldn't be large enough. All went well, with the help of the wonderful porter at the train station, until he wanted to load all our luggage onto the waiting train at the station.

The officious Russian woman in charge of the train car informed us (through a worker that spoke some English) the limit of luggage was 36 kg per person (79 lbs). I pulled out my paper, printed online on their website, that said 200 kg. She said those weren't the rules for this train. No way could we take everything with us.

Of course, panic ensued - along with prayers! As the Russian words flew around us, we looked from one to another wondering what we were going to do. Finally the translator said, we couldn't do it unless we could pay money for shipping it. We said, yes, of course. They said we had to have 400 Euros for this to work. We said OK (we had that much cash with us because we were planning on paying our rent as soon as we arrived in Riga). They asked if we had 400 Euros? Yes. Cash. Yes. Right now? Yes. With you now? Yes. Well, then that's a different story.

Luggage jammed into the added compartment
We were allowed to pay for another compartment adjacent to our sleeping compartment for the luggage. The porter started loading it into the newly paid-for compartment as the woman commander walked away. She returned with a paper stating the exact amount - 333 Euros. I paid her the cash and everyone was happy.

As it turned out, it was good that we were able to get another compartment for our luggage. It would have been impossible to get any sleep at all if we had to have it in the small space with us. (As it was, we both only slept about three hours during the night.)

As the porter finished loading it into the compartment, he turned to me, smiled, and said, "That's the Russian way."

In looking back, I wonder who kept that 333 Euros. Very interesting!


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