overland to prague
the train ride itself was the last leg of my quest to travel from China to Europe entirely by train, which meant going from St. Petersburg to Prague via Belarus and Poland. while my ticket listed the 15 cities that i'd be passing through (in case i had a sudden hankering to hop off in minsk, i suppose), it didn't list one major item that it turned out on our itinerary: having our train car sit abandoned (literally connected to nothing) for two hours in a field somewhere in belarus.
after we stopped at the belarus/russian border for the train's wheels to get changed (i got to watch the procedure, which involves the entire train car being lifted up by giant winches and then the wheels slid out from underneath the train, and then replaced with a different set), our train was towed out of the shed onto some disused, grass-covered train tracks, and then left to wait for a few hours. despite our remote location, a belarussian woman with a bag full of tasty treats sold us lunch and beer to help us survive the wait.
as for prague itself? i'm going through "popular country culture shock" as flocks of backpackers crowd the streets. it's been 8 years since i was last here, and the prices have changed, as well the addition of "stag and hen" parties (bachelor and bachelorette parties) throng the streets at evening time, adding a very touristy vibe to things. i love prague, but i'm already missing the feeling of being just on the tipping point of popular tourist destinations that i had in russia.