Anyone who knows Russia will know that train journeys across its vast expanses are a quintessential part of experiencing the country and the character of its inhabitants.
That was certainly the case for the New York Times’ chief football correspondent, Rory Smith, who is in Russia covering the World Cup.
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Smith shared the experience of his journey from Ekaterinburg to Samara – two of the host cities – on a trip involving an inauspicious start, a hungry protagonist, but an ultimately happy ending.
Having safely settled in to his home for the lengthy journey, Smith tweeted a picture of the cabin, describing the train as having “the feel of a Manchester-Fuerteventura flight” as it was carrying passengers on to Anapa, a popular holiday resort with Russians on the Black Sea coast.
The journalist added that he was all set for the lengthy trip because he was well supplied with “stroopwaffles”
Two hours into the journey, however, Smith encountered a classic problem that frequent Russian train users will be familiar with: his cabinmates’ choice of food.
“Morale would have been higher if my cabin-mates hadn’t opted for hard-boiled eggs and pickled cucumber for dinner,” Smith tweeted, complaining that “the small is not going to shift.”
Not an auspicious start for the inexperienced Smith – although things then took an unexpected twist, with the journalist issuing a mea culpa having got to know his fellow passengers.
It was then that Smith's cabinmates appeared to spot that he had clearly erred in his choice of provisions for the journey.
That led to a full admission that hunger was looming - despite Smith adding hopefully that could see out the journey to Samara.
With things looking touch-and-go on the food front, Smith's cabin-mates stepped in with an act of hospitality that many a visitor to Russia will be familiar with.
The woman then proceeded to step in with another helping, before furnishing him with additional supplies to help him on his way.
Smith concluded the heartwarming tale of deliverance from hunger with the message which will be familiar to many fans traveling to Russia for the first time this summer -namely that you shouldn't always believe what you read in the press about the country or its inhabitants.
The thread has gained popularity on Twitter, with responses ranging from people sharing similar travel experiences in Russia to the supposed explanation that the practice stems from the days of rationing in the Soviet Union.
Whatever the case, Smith’s journey has offered an insight into an aspect of Russia that many foreigners will experience this summer - and will go some way towards dispelling some of the many myths that continue to abound about the World Cup hosts.