Travelling by train across Russia takes you to places unlike any you have seen before. Some are beautiful, some – like Novosibirsk – tend to the functional. All go to create a holiday experience unlike any other, giving you an insight into the Russian character and how harsh life can be here, away from the big cities.
If the Trans-Siberian was built to link-up some cities, then others are the railway’s creation – none more so than Novosibirsk. Building a rail bridge to span the vast River Ob was one of the hardest tasks in building the Trans-Sib – and the buildingcamp on the Ob’s far side slowly grew into a town, then a city.
Novosibirsk is not especially pretty or attractive – it remains a proud child of its construction-camp past. Although there is not a lot to “see”, a wander around town quickly tells you a lot about the Siberian character – tough, uncompromising, yet warm, welcoming and kind.
For most people Novosibirsk remains a transport-hub – either southwards into the Altai Mountains, or into Central Asia on the Trans-Sib’s little-known “orphan sister”, the Turkestan-Siberian Railway, that runs from Novosibirsk into the heart of Central Asia.
In years to come, remembering your holiday journeying across Russia on one of the world’s most famous railways, places like Novosibirsk will help complete your picture of a country of great contrasts.