Not everyone who visits Russia sees the World Cup by traveling in an airplane. Many fans choose to take the train to save money.
These days the flights to Russia are almost full. Especially in Europe, due to its relatively close proximity to Moscow, flights from other countries in the region are always on fire, especially on the days before the matches.
For example, when Germany’s first match held against Mexico on June 18 in Moscow, flights from all German airports to Moscow on the previous day were no tickets or too expensive.
In this situation, many fans choose to fly from Europe through Riga (capital of Latvia) or Minsk (capital of Belarus) and go to Moscow by train. With a student’s budget, I also choose this path.
I fly 2 hours from Berlin to Riga with cheap Ryanair and then take the train from Riga to Moscow which takes my journey of more than 17 hours. In this way, the cost of travel reduced to not only half but also one third of the total cost, compared to plane.
From Riga to Moscow every day there is a departure, departing at 5.30 pm (Local time) and arriving in Moscow at 10.30 am (Local time) in the morning. I bought the seat ticket which is the cheapest class ticket, car number 14. As soon as boarded the train, a familiar feeling appeared.
The layout, material, the smell of oil … all are like the train in the hometown, only the other one is no longer hard seats. The chair car seat reminds of the same feeling of my local railway.
No English language on the board, all signboards are in Latvian and Russian, including staff who speak only one of these languages. We communicate in sign language and through tickets, it was so funny.
Most of my sailors, are working class from Russia or Latvians visiting relatives in Russia.
This is because in the past Latvia used to belong to the former Soviet Union, so the Russian-speaking community is very large, accounting for about a quarter of Latvia’s population. They spend time on the train talking to each other, reading or crossword in the magazine, few people plugged into the smartphone. Sleeping 1 night on the train is really not a bad idea.
I met a group of Mexican fans, a group from Colombia, some Swedes, even two young Indonesians studying in the Netherlands.
I make friends with Albert from Costa Rican and Miron from Uzbekistan. Albert is currently studying for a master’s degree in Madrid, Spain.
To cheer the team, he decided to take the bus alone to save his money from Madrid to Berlin … (which takes more than a day and a half), also flying from Berlin to Riga and taking the train from Riga to Moscow. Albert will stay in Russia for 10 days to watch all of Costa Rica’s matches, one in the stadium and two at Fan Fest.
And Miron finished his bachelor’s degree in Riga, he was also visiting Moscow to watch some soccer matches before returning to his hometown. Thanks to the football, the conversation has become more intimate, revolving.
As the train ran, the 4G network connection was very flickering, and many of the trains passing through could not catch the Internet. Every time there is a signal drop, we along with some other passengers gathered around an iPad, watching the match between Croatia and Nigeria through a 4G local small screen connected by a guest.
All the coaches watching football on the train is an interesting experience, we have just commented on the performance of the players, especially the Croatian star Luka Modric.
As night fell, the light on the train went out, and the train fell asleep. The person who has the ticket is sleeping on the bed, the person who buys the ticket without confirmation is looking for a way to get a nap. With many supporters, the experience of sleeping on the train would be memorable.
But not all fans choose to take the train to save money. Like me Uncle Simon from England chose to take the train also because “the train shows me more than the plane.”
He went on to support the home team at Fan Fest and did not expect much of the England team going further. But with Simon, the World Cup is a place to make friends and to enjoy the football atmosphere.
And when the train arrived in Moscow, we parted ways and followed our own plan, wishing the team a good performance and wishing each other a great World Cup.