Two unremarkable, partially bed-ridden days spent in Perm were 'enjoyed' in the amazing Hotel Ural, a wonderful example of monsterous Soviet architectural planning. Perm's a somewhat charming if a little polluted cesspit of a city that really endeared itself to me.
On the train after my gastronomic experience, and three hours from the sprawling city, all I can see for miles is green hills and the tallest of tallest of trees. Farms, rivers, wooden houses and as I write this, (account transferred from notebook) we pass a gorgeous but tiny wooden Orthodox church with silvery onion domes, misted in a similarily wooden viilage backed by pine forest.
The landscape around the Urals only seems to get more beautiful as the train trundles through the countryside.
Supplied with all the neccessary items one needs on a 40 hr train journey (towels, linen, access to a samovar and all the extras we've brough
t ourselves), it seems to be the epitome of backpacking luxury - somewhere to rest and getting somewhere while doing so.
All is perfect but the the giant in the bunk above us, snoring like a boar and snuffling loudly in between snores. Outside of the little wooden village, straddling the hillside, I spied a pretty cemetary dotted with white and colored crosses. What a wonderful resting place, overlooking a lake!
As it got darker as we moved further south, the endless stream of larch and spruce became truly hypnotic. At times I thought I saw a boar, or a bear, standing there in the forest, but it was undoubtedly a tree in the shape of a bear - or perhaps it was a bear in the shape of a tree. The woods are good like that for playing tricks on you.