In the many provinces not served by the railway, the Russians travel quite willingly by sleigh during the winter. There are, however, excellent post coaches, well furnished with furs, in which one is all the more comfortably seated as the mail admits only two travellers in the compartments which follow one another and communicate with one another through small windows.
But in order to run on the snow, the carriages must, like sledges, rest on a runner which replaces the wheels and gives the vehicle a swing proportionate to its length. The result for travellers is a discomfort, a close cousin of seasickness, which not everyone can bear.
In summer the variety of carriages is infinite: the round Drojki, a sort of cabriolet without a bonnet; the long Drojki, with wheels, which consists of a padded bench, on which three or four men can sit in line and astride the narrow seat of the coachman; the Kibitka, a sort of cart without springs, covered in canvas which forms a tent, etc. etc., are constantly crossing each other, etc., are constantly crossing each other with the private crews which brighten up all the roads, for the Russians during the fine season have the fever of the sun and of travelling.
Often one travels, without encountering the slightest village, distances of two or three hundred versts, but everywhere one very regularly finds the post house which supplies you with horses, tea, sometimes a little milk, and even, when it is superbly mounted, some lean and tough poultry.
Moreover, it contains, as you can see by visiting the Russian Post Office in the Park, a large room in which leather-covered sofas offer the weary traveller the most comfortable bed in a country where beds are unknown. Don't ask for a private room! When you have slept side by side on a bench, you can sleep well for a few hours on sofas next to each other. This is the surest way to avoid the invasion of insects that a blanket used by many occupants would attract.
©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée