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The Accidental Round the World Trip


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#21 v v

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 06:57 AM

Tuesday 28 February 10:19 am, just crossed the border from Germany into Poland. Young man in our carriage is being put through the wringer by the onboard Polish customes officers.

 

Day 1 - Monday 27 February 2017

 

We managed to board the Eurostar out of St Pancras London without a problem having spent much of  the night first at the station Starbucks, but the seating was similar to Victorian hard wooden benches and very full. Moved onto the Costa coffee shop where it was warmer, much more comfortable and less busy, staff were very tolerant of sleeping people too.

 

Arrived in Bruxelles for the dreaded 17 minutes change of station section and location of platform, but the Eurostar was a few minutes late arriving and it was cut to 10. Found the platform area, ticket showed platform 10 but the electronic screen showed a blank for our train's platform number, 7 minutes to go. Screen also showed a message that our train on to Koln (Cologne) was stopping at Bruxelles Nord, 9 minutes down the track. What it didn't show was the Deutsche Bahn (DB) ICE15 was no longer stopping at Bruxelles Midi where it was supposed to meet our incoming train and where we were. Ran upstairs to platform 10 to check if there were other passengers there and any extra information, some people but no info. Down to the concourse, Rob goes to one end of the concourse, I to the other, Rosie queues at the info desk, 5 minutes to go.

We gather between us that the ICE15 was now not going to stop at Midi but only at Nord, there was a local train running from Midi to Nord at platform 12, 3 minutes to go.

Arrive upstairs with all luggage on platform 12, lots pf people slightly out of breath, but no train, 2 minutes to go.

 

New announcement in 4 languages (English is spoken last), platform has changed and it's now #14. Off we all race as the train has to leave on time to guarantee meeting the ICE15 train. Down deep flight of stairs and back up the escalator, 1 minute to go.

 

Arrive platform 14, jump on train it leaves immediately, phew. It's cool in Bruxelles but we're all sweating. 

 

Arrive Nord at platform 4, we need 2. Down stairs again and back up, there's the ICE15 sitting there but we are at the other end of the train! Rosie, Martine and Rob board the first car, I think this train will allow 2 minutes to board as we were sent half way round Bruxelles to find it, so walked quickly to the rear of the train. Half way a guard shouts it's going NOW! best get on then but with bags it's hard work passing through the rest of the cars, but we are on our way to Koln and riding our first ever ICE train.

 

Found the Eurostar ride superb, and very good track allowing maximum speed. The 2nd class interior is a bit cramped and we are not tall people, reminded me of budget airlines where they had added a few rows of seats.

The German ICE train was much more comfortable and spacious, but mainly not such good track and much lower speeds.

 

Reached Koln in good time to change trains for the next ICE on to Berlin, the whole station has people milling about dressed on their Karnival clothes, some very bizarre which adds to a party atmosphere.  ICE Train 559 left on time and now a calm 5 hours to Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Hbf)

 

More later  


Edited by v v, 05 March 2017 - 06:51 AM.


#22 Bob Dylan

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 07:54 AM

Most entertaining, sounds like a Monty Python or early Beatle Movie sketch!😎

As was said, we look forward to reading your continuing adventures from our recliners!🌍
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#23 v v

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 07:58 AM

Most entertaining, sounds like a Monty Python or early Beatle Movie sketch!

As was said, we look forward to reading your continuing adventures from our recliners!

 

After day 1 Bob we'd like a go at your recliners


Edited by v v, 02 March 2017 - 05:04 PM.


#24 caravanman

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 12:14 PM

Glad you managed the hectic last second platform and route changes, got to be plain sailing now for the next few months!

 

Best wishes,

 

 

Ed.



#25 Barciur

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 01:34 AM

Glad things are going well so far. By my estimates, you should be in Moscow now? Very much looking forward to hearing about how was Poland (did you find the supermarket? ;)) and the train to Kiev as well, and then a bit about Kiev and the tri pto Moscow! How about the borders - both between Ukraine and Poland and Ukraine and Russia? Looking forward to hearing from you soon!



#26 v v

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 07:03 AM

Have just arrived in Moscow, Ruth was standing there smiling and waiting for us all. A very interesting journey through to Moskva Kyivskaya station but more later as we are off to walk Moscow...  after 2 1/2 days on trains without facilities the hotel shower was the best ever.



#27 v v

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 05:27 PM

...  Day 1 continued, arriving at Berlin Hbf

 

With zero hours sleep the night before we slept for around 3 of the 5 hours to Berlin, very comfotable train.
Arriving on time at Berlin Hbf (main station) we were at journy's end for the day, but remained in the station for a while to look and absorb such a creative and technical marvel. Can't say enough good things about this station, it has to be one of the great railway stations of the world.
That evening we strolled around Berlin, first to the Reichstag and then on to the Bradenburg Tor (Gate), both look spectacular at night.
We finished up at Friedrichstrasse Station, an atmospheric symbol of the Berlin Wall and the Cold War. From certain angles it still looks and feels as it did back in the 60's and 70's, eerie and haunting. 
Read some very good reviews of the 'Die Berliner Republik' pub restaurant    http://www.die-berliner-republik.de/en/     maybe 50m from Friedrichstr Station right on the river Spree. Known for being very popular, serves genuine German food and has an interesting beer borse where the price of the most popular beers sold changes on the popularity of each type over the previous few minutes.
We each had a different meal and all were really enjpoyed. Portions too large but tasted very good, their deserts were even better.
All in all after an early hiccup, frequent changes of trains, arriving at a modern work of art station and ending with a great meal and company, a pretty good start to a long journey.

 

One of many views of Berlin Hbf

 

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Soviet era Berlin TV tower stands in Alexanderplatz in the former East Berlin

 

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Berlin Reichstag

 

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Quadriga sculpture on top of the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

 

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Berlin Brandenburg Tor

 

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Berlin, Friedrichstrasse Rail Station of Cold War fame

 

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Day 2 - Tuesday 28 February 2017

Writing this from about 1 km inside Ukraine, we have just had a new set of wheels fitted I assume for a track guage change. All done in silence by a large workforce inside a train shed. Photography is not allowed and twice someone has come along and closed our compartment door for what reason not sure, but this country is at war so have to expect unusual events.
But got ahead of myself, here is Day 2
Checked out of Hotel Meininger, hundreds of younger people at the hotel so it felt very lively which is no bad thing.
Walked the 100m back to Berlin station and stood and stared at it all over again, don't seem to stop finding different views.
Train Berlin to Warsawa left on-time, modern, clean and spacious Polish Intercity style train, about 1/3 full. A pleasant 5 hour train ride across a grey Polish plain.

 

Our Berlin - Warsawa Intercity train arriving at Berlin Hbf

 

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The interior, bright, modern, clean and comfortable

 

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On the German - Polish border saw this military train heading east

 

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Arrived at Warsawa Centralna on-time, another bright and modern main station.

The tip from Barciur re the supermarket on the upper floor of the station was great, had all we needed for our overnight sleeper with no food and drink facilities.
Our Ukrainian sleeper train from Warsawa to Kyiv arrived ahead of time in it's original blue with yellow stripe Wagon Lit livery, a real throw-back to the past. The exterior and particularly the interior pleased us all, we could have been back in the 1960's. Each couple had a double compartment which was in the same 1960's style, with plenty of room and all that you need.

 

The Warsawa - Kyiv train ready for boarding

 

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Only 8 passengers in our car, the 4 of us and a Ukraine family made up of Granny, Mum and two boys. The car attendant was a severe looking lady who couldn't smile at first, but as we all became more familiar a smile would escape sometimes.
We were all treated to cups of tea in glass cups with special metal holders, this was a memorable start to our old fashioned journey.
Rosie offered squares of dark chocolate to all up and down the carriage, we were offered a bottle of Soplica Sliwkowa by Granny, Granny proved to have a big smile that escaped all of the time. Rob and Martine continued to get to know each other and so we all settled down to train life as happens everywhere.

 

Car corridor and this sign to indicate the toilets?

 

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There are only 3 carriages for the sleeper section and they are attached to the rear of a modern commuter style train. Close to the Ukraine order at Chelm we were separated from the main train, a shunter engine pulled us over the border for our wheel change.
At 00:16 1 March and we are under way again, Kyiv here we come...


Edited by v v, 16 March 2017 - 12:25 PM.


#28 Barciur

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 07:01 PM

Great! I'm glad my tip was helpful. Good to hear you had a good trip to Berlin and again on the Ukrainian wagon. I hope you waved to my hometown, Lublin ;) Border control OK? No problems with either Polish or Ukrainian checks?



#29 v v

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 02:46 AM

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Very early morning St Pancras International - London

 

 

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The Bruxelles Eurostar

 

 

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A few passengers arriving for the first London - Paris train

 

 

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A pair of German ICE trains in Koln Hbf


Edited by v v, 03 March 2017 - 02:51 AM.


#30 v v

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 05:23 PM

No file was selected for upload

 

​Under More Reply Options I added a photo to be attached here, the photo title showed but the above message appeared. I tried this about 6 times with both cropped and uncropped photos but nothing changed. Tried Basic Uploader and same result. Re-started computer and tried it all again, could see all the photos numbers that were selected but same message. About 14 hours ago with the same Notebook I uploaded the photos above with the same method, any ideas?



#31 v v

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 06:08 PM

Day 3 - Wednesday 1 March 2017

 

Fairly uneventful night after Passport and Customs twice plus the axle changes, although Rob and Martine who have brand new passports and came in for fairly close scrutiny.

 

The car rode really well, almost as good as the best of much newer rolling stock. All the fittings are solid and everything looked of good quality if a little dated, testament to the craftsmanship of days gone by.

 

Arrived In Kyiv with a little drama. Our phone didn't update the time zone change after the Poland/Ukraine border crossing, so according to us in our compartment we had 1 hour and 7 minutes to wash, dress, pack away and get ready to de-train, in reality we had 7 minutes but didn't know until a few minutes later...

 

Rob and Martine's phone did update, they were in the corridor ready to de-train 2 minutes after we woke up, oh dear.

 

Train staff told us we had to get off immediately as the train was pulling out even though it terminated in Kyiv, so poor Rosie got a little flustered as we were in underwear but we managed ok and the train hadn't moved 4 hours later which we could see when crossing the track bridge later in the day.

 

Our car just arrived at Kyiv Pass, Ukraine

 

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First job was using our ticket voucher to collect our tickets for the Kyiv - Moskva sleeper later that same day. They were to be found in Hall 4 at Window 12 for ticket collection for internet sales. Already knew from Seat 61 that the window was open 24 hours with closed for rest breaks times posted on the window. We were in good time with no break just gone or due but the office behind window 12 looked a little dark. After waiting around for a few minutes with no one in sight we went to window 11 (strictly for Service personnel only!) where there were two people sitting there, but no attention was paid until a hello was said and the ticket voucher was produced. At which point no argument that it was the wrong window, 4 tickets were printed in under 60 seconds, with a smiling thank you off we went to find left-luggage. Again we knew in which part of the original station it was located thanks to Seat 61 (in the old station to the left side of the escalators up to the station connecting bridge and down several flights of stairs so you have to be fit). Tokens bought for 2 lockers and packed but wouldn't all go in, 3rd token and now ready to lock them but we needed help from a friendly attendant who had guessed we were about to have trouble locking up. All accomplished then back across the bridge (about 600-700m long) and out through the new station to a Ukrainian eatery opposite, very good food selection, astounding prices and tasty.

A note about Kyiv. It feels a little edgy in particular in and around Kyiv Pass stations, there are a lot of tough looking service men and police with serious expressions but we didn't feel intimidated. They appeared lightly armed compared to what we see in parts of London and at airports. It did not feel threatening it's important to say and often saw young men and service men helping the elderly with luggage.

 

It's late here in Moscow so more later, but just to paint the picture I'm sitting here writing looking through a panoramic window on the 11th floor of a good hotel watching low rise Moscow go about it's night business. Moskva Kievskaya station is below us so we can watch all the train movements in and out too if we stand up.


Edited by v v, 16 March 2017 - 12:26 PM.


#32 caravanman

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 02:44 PM

Excellent !

 

Ed.



#33 Seaboard92

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 03:34 PM

Amazing trip report. I can't wait to hear more. I had a similar dilemma to yours in Bruxelles only I was starting my trip there. Except our ICE ended up in the end completely cancelled.
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#34 v v

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 06:39 PM

Have to mention that there are quite a few photos but can't get them uploaded here. They may have to wait until we return to London in 4 weeks or so as between Rob and Ruth (both very capable phone and computer enthusiasts) and myself (not as knowledgable but pretty dogged) we've run out of ideas.

 

 

Day 3 continued

 

Have to go back a little for Barciur, back to Day 2 evening. 4 of us were on Lublin alert to make 110% sure that I didn't miss it, but it is a pretty sizeable town/city and a well signed railway station. Poised ready to jump off the train as it stopped, camera ready to go. Barciur, kept my side of the bargain and have a photo or two of your home town station. If you want to see them in a hurry then send an email, but if not they will get posted here at some point.

 

For Barciur, his home town station

 

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The parts we saw of Kyiv looked pleasant and interesting, but it is heavily influenced at the moment with martyr sites for those killed in the Maidan Square uprising in early 2014, protests and demonstrations of one form or another and a security presence. There are many fine buildings, cathedral and churches and people look busy and quite well off.

 

The large double station area is full of life inside and outside the station, reminiscent of large stations in mainland Europe in the early and mid 60's. Wanted to photo the interior of the 'old' station but didn't think it the best idea with so many military around.

 

We took the Metro from outside of Kyiv Pass through to Arsenalna ( Арсенальна ) Metro station, here thanks to Long Train Runnin' for pointing out that there lies the deepest Metro station in the world. Deep it certainly is, the escalators appear speeded up as they travel over an enormous distance up and down, it would take forever to cover the journey to the surface at regular speed.

 

Photo 1 - the deepest Metro station platform in the world

Photo 2 - from the top of the first escalator looking down, it start is very much a dot in the distance. Escalator No.2 to the surface from this point was about as long

 

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Enjoyed walking Kyiv but it is slightly hilly so not for everyone. People appear cautious but friendly and give help willingly if asked. Late afternoon and back to the station area to eat again, same place as breakfast with the same good results. We all took a liking to Kyiv, Rosie and I would like to return here sometime soon for a longer stay.

 

Sign in partial English at Kyiv Metro station

 

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Makeshift memorials to the people killed in Maidan Square are everywhere

 

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Hasn't stopped young people demonstrating, a small demonstration forming

 

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In the subway under Maidan square, a busker playing a cross between the Balalaika and a harp? He had a fine tenor voice too and was signing Hallelujah, moved me to tears after spending a little time in the square above.

 

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Recovered our bags from the Left Luggage and soon on our way to the now indicated platform. Waiting there was what looked like an updated version of the Warsawa to Kyiv train, the Moskva Night Sleeper.

 

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Loaded us and all our stuff into a 4 bed compartment and started to settle for our first journey into Russia. The compartment although larger than the previous 2 berth had less room with 4 adults and bags, but we all knew each other which made life easier.

 

We think the 4 berth compartment we have booked on the Trans Sib (Trans Siberian Express) is the same size, so that should be interesting as we will live in it for 7 days next week. Can also see on the RZD website that the spare bed in our booked 4 berth compartment (we have booked 3 of them) is now taken by a person unknown, great excitement to find out who we are sharing with.

 

We leave on time for Moskva, in the morning as we are eating breakfast we should be in Moscow's outskirts.

 

Continued later


Edited by v v, 16 March 2017 - 12:28 PM.


#35 v v

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 07:46 AM

Day 3 continued - evening

 

​A short while after setting off tea (Chai) was brought to our compartment, the first of the 2 teas we ordered when booking the tickets. The hot water on this again Ukrainian train is heated by Samovars (boilers), at one end of the car heating by gas, the other end heating by wood or coal. Arrived at the Ukraine exit customs around 22:00, large military and border personnel force boarded and were soon at our compartment. We had 2 discoveries that evening, one that a very few Europeans / Americans use this route to Moskva, two that there were 2 tied closed plastic sacks in the corner of the compartment upper bag storage above the corridor. They didn't belong to any of us and Rob and Martine were having kittens that it may be smuggled goods. Felt through the sack plastic, the contents were shoes? some with very high heels! Asked a neighbour in the next compartment who made this journey about every 2 weeks and he said don't worry. Shortly after asked our car attendant what we should do with them and she said don't worry. Rosie and I are pretty relaxed people but Rob and Martine are now breaking out into a sweat as we hear the border forces come aboard., it gets worse for Martine...

 

Customs man comes into the compartment, glances up at the sacks above our heads, gives a cursory glance at us and the compartment and goes. Then the military come in for passports. Martine's is given special attention as is Rob's passport later. The passport control officer popped out to confer (did this a few times) and I try to reassure our friends by telling  them they do this just to make you feel nervous, they certainly succeeded. After about an hour and 20 minutes he stamps their passports and waves a cheery goodbye, they both look years older. Have to say it was the longest passport check I've ever witnessed.

The sacks are now really bothering them as we have Russian border controls to come and whatever is in these bags could be contraband, could be in for for an interesting night.

 

Continued later


Edited by v v, 12 March 2017 - 08:10 AM.


#36 Bob Dylan

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 09:49 AM

Sounds like these border agents are returning to the Cold War days when crossing a border was a very nerve racking expierence,especially for Americans!

It appears that our ICE officials are be adopting these methods of intimidation of "foriegners" entering the US under the new regime!😣

Looking forward to future episodes of the long,long trip to seldom visited places!😉
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Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#37 oregon pioneer

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 04:38 PM

Sounds like these border agents are returning to the Cold War days when crossing a border was a very nerve racking expierence,especially for Americans!

It appears that our ICE officials are be adopting these methods of intimidation of "foriegners" entering the US under the new regime!

Looking forward to future episodes of the long,long trip to seldom visited places!

 

Don't worry about the uploads, everyone's having problems with them right now. I am also looking forward to the next installment, and the photos when technology allows.


Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#38 caravanman

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 09:55 AM

When we flew into Rangoon airport in Burma, many years ago, our Lonely Planet guide book recommended taking duty free packs of cigarettes and a particular brand of scotch. The customs man was the first to ask if we wanted to sell them, and led us over to a huge room full of these same products. Maybe there is a customs person with a shoe fetish waiting somewhere ahead for their fix :D

 

I would insist that they went out of the compartment, let the "don't worry" train crew member not worry!

 

Edwin



#39 Barciur

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 09:56 PM

Thank you for remembering! No need to hurry on pictures, it's okay. Just wanted to see if you remembered ;)

 

Question for you: how was communication in terms of language? You mention you have been able to communicate with attendants and border guards - do they speak English or other means were employed? ;)



#40 v v

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 08:09 AM

9:30pm 12 March 2017 - Vladivostok tonight, icy rain turning to snow

 

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Vladivostok main railway station, illuminated signs above the entrance reads, 'Station'   -   'Vladivostok'


Edited by v v, 12 March 2017 - 08:12 AM.





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