For the big leg of our trip, we were riding third class. Our carriage had some 80 people in it, divided into compartments of six. We both had top bunks this time, leaving us little claim to the small table under the winder, though I believe it was to be shared.
The Russian woman on the third top bunk leaned over and struck up a conversation in English. Julia turned out to be endlessly helpful, translating for other people in the compartments and providing several tips about the trip. When she couldn’t find a word in English, she switched to French.
Our supply of bread and cheese lasted only the first two days; after that it was back to instant noodles and soup mix. We bought juice and the occasional pastry (almost all meat-filled) at the longer station stops (20 minutes to stretch your legs), but they had mostly chips and ice cream on offer.
With no director of activities in third class, passengers were left to their own devices. We gained five hours over the four days, but time didn’t matter much at all: you ate when you were hungry (or bored), and you slept when you were tired (or bored). Napping was a popular pastime, followed by reading (right now, The Other Boleyn Girl) or making Italian flash cards. We learned the rules for Chinese chess, and Colin beat me every time.
The two toilets, by the end, were left in a state of wet filth, but what do you expect. On the whole the carriage was fairly comfortable, and I would absolutely recommend the trip.