Russia Winter Tour 2014 (6/10) – Tomsk

27 Jan 2014

My breakfast that day was coffee. By then I had figured that with all the late night eating and drinking I didn’t really need to get more food into my system first thing in the morning.

Our stop in Tomsk was the most stressful of the tour: we had exactly 2 minutes to get off the train. That meant getting all our warm clothes and snow boots several minutes before arrival in the carriage heated to 28 degrees. Outside was as cold as Omsk, but fortunately the buses were already waiting for us. The ride to the sports hall where most of us were staying took 2 hours. This sports hall did not only have showers but also its own sauna, which we used pretty much after setting up our sleeping places.

We went for lunch to a hospital canteen. Really. It was one of the recommended places to eat in our program, so we figured it’d be alright.

Hospital canteen

Unfortunately for me all meat dishes contained gluten in one form or another. I had a couple of decent salads, one with carrot, beetroot, chicken and mayo, and one with corn, cucumber, tomato and mayo. I also had some sort of plov (Siberian fried rice) with cumin, capsicum and oil, that unfortunately was undercooked. I also had a nice vegetable and rice soup with sour cream.

Salads, plov, soup (R116.50, about $3.67)

The local sangha (meditation group) had set up a well-stocked cafeteria in the sports hall.

Sangha cafeteria

For dinner I bought a meal from the cafeteria that had chicken, peas, green beans, devilled eggs. Yes, the veggies were overcooked but the meal was cheap and tasty. And I didn’t have to go out and freeze to get it.

Chicken, peas, green beans, devilled eggs (R100, about $3.15)

28 Jan 2014

My breakfast the next day was very similar to the previous night’s dinner.

Devilled eggs, green beans, peas, cauliflower, chicken (R100, about $3.15)

That morning a bunch of us were invited to make an appearance in Russian TV! They were doing a news piece about our lama and wanted to interview some of his international students. The interview took place in a cafe with a nice vibe. We were offered pastries that I obviously didn’t eat and very nice orange and cinnamon and apple and ginger teas.

Pastries, orange & cinnamon tea

My lunch that day was a couple of handfuls of raw nuts that I had bought the day before at the sangha cafeteria for R70 (about $2.20). Later we visited the Buddhist centre. On arrival we were given a ticket with a meditation time because the gompa (meditation room) could not fit all of us at the same time. Outside some people danced, some had broth with pelmeni (dumplings) and pastries, and some, like me, stood by the fire to keep warm.

The bus dropped us at the public lecture venue. I had dinner at the nearby Cafe Edelveis, which looked a little bit like a small town disco with bad music to match.

The menu was in cyrilic alphabet and the staff didn’t speak English but by then I knew enough Russian to order a solyanka and a salad containing chicken, corn, quail egg, gherkins, shredded iceberg lettuce, celery, potato and mayo. The soup was good, but the salad was better. They charged me R5 (about $0.16) for the bread I couldn’t eat.

Solyanka (R170, about $5.34)

Salad (R150, about $4.71)

I didn’t go to the party after the lecture that night but heart it was the best on the tour.

29 Jan 2014

While people were recovering from the previous night’s party I went out looking for a place to have breakfast. At Cafe Samovar, where the waiter spoke some English, I had a broth with meatballs (served with dill for a change) and an espresso.

Broth with meatballs (R40, about $1.26), espresso (R60, about $1.88)

Then I went to the supermarket to buy train supplies and something for lunch: a salad with mixed leaves, radishes, carrots, almonds and some sort of salmon cebiche (raw cubes of salmon marinated in lemon juice with sliced onions and tomatoes).

Mixed leaves, carrots, radishes, marinated salmon

I seasoned my salad with chilli olive oil and balsamic vinegar from the handy Colavita travel pack that I bought a few days before leaving Sydney.

Colavita olive oils and balsamic

For dinner I had the rest of the salad leaves with olive oil and balsamic and a couple of chicken thighs from the sangha cafeteria, plus some nuts and coffees.

Salad leaves, chicken thighs

There was a lecture by some international travelling teachers and then we departed to the train station. On board our dinner was wine, salami, gherkins, green olives, carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, cheese, tinned fish, etc.

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