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Pole to Pole

Day 33: Dno to Kiev

Novgorod, USSR 
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The Russian Kissing Dance - not recommended after crayfish and vodka.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleIt's one o'clock in the morning at Dno station. The main lines from Tallinn to Moscow and Leningrad to Kiev cross here, and it has enjoyed its moment of history, too. On this station, in April 1917, Nicholas II was persuaded by his generals to abdicate, ending 450 years of Tsarist rule.

I know it's not fair to judge somewhere after a one-hour wait for a train in the middle of the night, but it does seem a place of desperation. A group of teenagers emerge from beneath a goods train, run across the line and jump up onto the platform. They are wild-eyed and grubby and very drunk. One boy looks heavily beaten around the face and there is mud and blood in equal parts on his clothes. They push close to the little circle of light where we are set up to film the train, demanding we give them beer. We're used to people wanting to join in the filming but this time there is an ugly air of aggression and potential violence. There is no help from the railway staff and the other travellers are completely uninterested. We're all relieved when the mournful boom of a diesel horn heralds the approach of the Kiev express. All its compartments are dark except for a silver light in the buffet car where a few staff are watching a soft porn video. Console myself with the thought that though Dno may be the pits, it is the start of a 620-mile run, due south, in less than twenty-four hours. Compared with our recent progress, this constitutes a sprint.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 33
  • Country/sea: USSR
  • Place: Dno
  • Book page no: 71

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