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The Accidental Round the World Trip


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#41 v v

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 08:39 AM

Day 4 - 03:00 Thursday 2 March

 

Have moved at a regular speed from the Ukraine into Russia during the midnight hours, travelled quite a distance too. There didn't appear to be any change  of train equipment at any point. We stop for Customs and passports at 3am, the Russian officials board quickly and we get an another customs officer who looks around our compartment after first glancing up into the corner where the shoes are. At this point he asks Rob and Martine to lift the lower bunk bed so he can look at their luggage, which he examines one piece of then he's gone.
The passport border official is almost smiley compared to the serious face of the Ukrainian officials in army fatigues, but he gives Rob and Martine's passports the same attention as ours and is quickly gone.
Then a man in a Puffer jacket and jeans arrives and asks us each individually what we were asked when we applied for a visa, which job, which school, what degree and what work we do now. Will we try to find work in Russia and where do we travel. Even having a third visitor went smoothly apart from Rob trying to use a Russian language app on his phone to translate his answers into Russian, this was declared "a bad idea" by our questioner in very good English. So it all went smoothly if not swiftly, we even got a smile on his departure.

My phone at last updated the time zone at the moment we crossed into Russia, but probably trying to atone for not updating for the Ukraine it over compensated and added an extra hour, for our 4 days in Moskva I alone was living in the Siberian city of Perm time zone, life is becoming complicated.
We all get 4 hours sleep before preparing for our arrival in Kievskaya station Moskva. After a slow trawl through the extensive suburbs we are there. Amazing to watch men working near to the tracks with no gloves, yes there is snow on the ground and it's pretty cold with a NE (from Siberia) blowing.

 

The sacks of shoes. As we pull into Moscow Kievskaya station 2 serious looking large men appear at our compartment, they don't look like the attendant's little helpers or trans dressers either. They are accompanied by the car attendant who is there to keep us calm but the carriage is now becoming quite crowded and there is a tension in the air. We are packed up and ready to go but are blocked from moving. The car attendant points to the sacks, nods at us and a man climbs up, pulls down one and then the second sack all in silence and then they are gone, with the shoes...

We'll never know the real story but can always spend a minute or two guessing.

   

Next up is meeting with Ruth and a 4 day break before the Trans Siberia Express takes us east.

Her smile is as big as ever, we meet Ruth again after 2 years and it's very good to do so, Rob and Martine meet her for the first time. She has already scouted the hotel we all stay in and the correct station exit. All exits except one are now closed due to a high level of security we found all over the city. It was required to put all bags through a scanner and each person is scanned, that was to exit the station too.

 

Our arrival station Moskva Kievskaya. Photo taken on leaving Moskva 4 days after our arrival, this is the only photo we have of it.

 

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The hotel Moskva Kievskaya Ibis is only 200m away from the exit, all local life is around and outside the station which makes the area feel lived in. First impressions are very good, it improved during our stay.

 

We are 4 days in Mockba and as this is a travelogue and not a city guide I'll just list highlights -

 

  • Hotel superb in all aspects
  • Moscow Metro system works as well as any we have used, well priced and looks like an art gallery in places, never seen the like of this.
  • People look serious but are very friendly if approached, most try hard to help, we really enjoyed being with Moscow people
  • They have Red Square which is pretty spectacular and larger than we expected. Everything is brighter and more 3D than any photos show. All the main buildings appear as though they were painted yesterday.
  • The Cosmonaut Museum was for me to die for. They presented the USSR and Russian view of the Space Race, how they succeeded and failed with rocket and space travel projects, the human aspect and cost of pioneering space in a mixture of detail and overview. The dog space suits were worth the admission price alone. Possibly the very best aspect of the Cosmo museum is the gigantic rocket taking off sculpture above the museum reaching high up to the sky. All in all a quite inspiring and one of the very best museums we have ever visited.
  • Food is good and can be had at any level easily, all well prepared to our tastes.
  • An amazing number of elegant, tall, beautifully dressed women with such poise we think there must be something in the water. This view is what the 3 women in our party think by the way.
  • A very easy, surprising, friendly and enjoyable city to visit.

The only lowlight is Rob and Martine leave us on Day 6 to train to St Petersburg and then fly back to London.

 

St Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, Moskva

 

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One of two soldiers attending the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, outside the Kremlin walls

 

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Lubyanka, Moskva. The headquarters of the former KGB - now home to the FSB

 

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Yaroslavsky station Moskva, the unforgettable start point for the Trans Siberian Express

 

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Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, gigantic monument sited above the museum - Moskva

 

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Edited by v v, 17 March 2017 - 11:50 AM.


#42 v v

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 09:42 AM

Day 7 - Sunday 5 March evening leaving Moskva   ~   Train Day 1

 

9pm we are ready to leave the lounge of the hotel, 25 minutes on the outer Metro circle line (Brown Line) and we are outside our departure station, the Yaroslavsky Station.
Upstairs to one of two large waiting areas, many people here waiting for Asia bound long distance trains, often with large amounts of baggage. This is not a holiday or sight seeing train at all, a better description would be an enormously long distance commuter train where the commute can take from a few hours to 7 days and nights.

We are now excited as we have all waited for this moment for over 40 years, just waiting to be given the platform number to get to our own Trans Sib Express, the Rossiya 002 to Vladivostok.
At last we are called and we are chattering like children as we make our way downstairs, out the station building, across to the right to platform No.1. It's 11pm, the air is heavy with an icy mist which creates an eerie glow around the platform lamps, the train attendants stand smartly in their very Russian uniforms by their carriage doors. Boarding is only allowed for the 1st class passengers at first so I walk up to the engine(s) to take a few quick photos, on the way there was a car attendant who looks exactly like Stalin in uniform but much larger, an awesome sight.

The engines are electric and made a while ago by Skoda who now are well known as the maker of cars (now under VW ownership). They also made trucks and train locomotives and have a superb museum well worth any rail fan's time and money. There are two engines back to back, and although I'm no train expert they look quite old but powerful, very atmospheric. The whole scene is set and is perfect.

 

Get back to our car and Rosie is at the door and looking worried, Ruth and all our bags are missing. I laugh and think this is a wind-up, but no our compartment is empty. Rosie stood on the platform to keep an eye on our bags while a more energetic and younger Ruth loaded our things onto the train, but she has disappeared as have our bags!
Standing in our compartment we hear a commotion at the far end of the car and go to investigate, Ruth is defending the wrong compartment against all comers with bags from all over being placed inside so no-one can get in at all, Ruth thinks our 4th room mate is a Russian family of 3 and is standing her ground.
She had made a simple mistake and doesn't realise, but is a determined girl. Everybody laughed at the end and we appear to have made Russian friends?

The Rossiya leaves on time at 23:45, a very slow smooth start through a dark misty Mockba. Will we ever return to this city? Yes if we can as it's one of the few places we would visit twice along with San Francisco and New York, oh yes and Oklahoma City.

 

 

Day 8 - Monday 6 March towards Valdivostok   ~   Train Day 2

 

00:01 am - Well, even at this late hour it took a couple of hours for us to settle down, didn't know which of us was most excited. It had snowed heavily but was only apparent after leaving the city.
Trackside views appear to be the same the world over, this is just the Russian version made up of small wooden houses of which a few are painted bright blue, they line the tracks or create villages just like anywhere. Inside the city everything is larger than life, outside it's all smaller than we would expect.

 

The compartment is as we thought from the Ukrainian sleeper, similar dimensions and layout. There is a tv with 2 channels, cartoons on one side, and an old film on the other. The fittings are all very smart and clean, in fact it's possible to say immaculate. The Ukrainian cars had lockers under the lower beds, the Russian open side spaces. The Russian compartment has a full length mirror on the inside of the door so when the door is closed there is a sense of space, very clever. The beds are firm to our taste, but all bunks are 1 piece mattresses.

It's a comfortable train and best of all we have a friendly Provodnitsa who is a service fanatic. She cleans the whole car twice every day including vacuuming the corridor and each compartment. The bathrooms are also excellent at all times too. Elena is possibly the exception on this train, we'll never know, but house-proud and carrying out her duty appear to be her motivation.

We set off with no 4th passenger in the compartment, an amount more space is created to be able to spread out a little. Asked Elena why the 4th bunk was booked but no-one on board and she shrugged, then said enjoy it.
Good sleep in a smooth riding car.

 

Next morning off we go to the Samovar at the end of the car, boiling hot water in our newly aquired RZD glass cups with metal RZD holders. We have maybe 2 weeks supply of tea bags with us so it's tea on a regular basis from now on.

 

We are looking forward to getting off the train at Kirov Pass at 12:07, our first opportunity to stretch our legs in 12 hours. Only a kiosk or two on the platform and no Babushkas. Rosie bumped into a small group of jolly men by the car steps. We all fall into broken conversation and lots of laughing about who knows what, then they invite me only? to their compartment even though I protest that we travel as a group, there is no option. Sit with a large man either side and a pair opposite and wonder what's it's all about. It's simple, I'm invited as the only male and they want to practice English plus explain how much they love Mother Russia.

I'll leave most of this out as they had already a half emptied a bottle(s) of Wodka, but it starts as they pour 5 shot glasses full and I'm encouraged to drink with them. Try to explain I only drink with an evening meal but that is apparently not understood, they also mention that as I'm poured a drink along with themselves I am insulting their hospitality if I don't drink, no options then. Then the second but I really protest at the third. By this time I know they get off only one day before us so I'll be alcoholic before we arrive in Vlad.

They explain who the are, there are 5 of them on the train, 4 in this carriage. They are in the military, based at an air base in Smolensk, all around 35 years old and are officers. 4 Majors and a Colonel they are all air based weapons experts. One had represented Russia in the last Winter Olympics, they all had family that came from outside of the country of Russia but loved their Russian Union. I guess much like Americans love their country and their home state in different ways.

 

This felt like a dejarvu moment from years ago, but that's another story.

 

They were a very happy group of men, easy in each others company and with me. Their English was 10x better than my Russian, I have 3 words. After 3 Wodkas I'll laugh at anything, after 10 Wodkas they did too.

 

Made my excuses after around 90 minutes, they were ready for an afternoon nap and my head was spinning but not from Wodka. It's always the same feeling that where ever you go in the world we are all different and at the same time all the same.

 

Most people on this train are keeping themselves to themselves, even the military are after our introducing session. It doesn't feel unfriendly just very reserved which feels like the Russian way. Rosie and I agreed that we miss the Amtrak viewing and dinning cars a lot for their informal friendliness.

The remainder of the afternoon and evening were uneventful, hills are appearing as we are approaching the Ural mountains and Yekaterinburg where the Russian royal family were murdered.
It's a mixture of small single story houses, some smaller factories but no apparent farming, but it is still full winter here and it would be hard to work on the land?

 

Arrive at our evening stop of Perm at 19:51, the name is the attraction and we all get off to take a look and walk. Back to the compartment and we have found our 4th member who has positioned himself on the top bunk. Greet him with a hello, he just nods and returns to his phone screen. Remains in his bunk until early next morning when he disappears as quickly as he appeared, but on leaving he did say da svidaniya to Ruth as she was up and about at 6am.

 

Wanted to continue writing this report and thought maybe the restaurant car would be ok to sit in for a couple of hours without disturbing Rosie and Ruth who wanted to sleep, but it was being locked up at 10pm so no luck there. The night stop came and went, occasional lit areas along the track. All room doors are closed in the evening (most are closed in the day too) for the privacy reason so a quiet evening.


Edited by v v, 12 March 2017 - 10:00 AM.


#43 Bob Dylan

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 09:56 AM

Made it across the Big Nowhere and Lived to tell about it!

Now it's on to Asia!😎
 
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 
".. I ride on a Mail Train Baby, can't buy a thrill.."--I said that!
 
"..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#44 oregon pioneer

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 01:06 PM

Love your narrative style! Thanks so much for the details, looking forward to more.


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.


#45 caravanman

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 02:42 PM

Excellent read, such fun... I can imagine looking over your shoulder as you are describing the events of the journey.

Was all of the "Trans Siberian" train comprised of sleeper compartments, or were there any basic coach seats too? Just wondering as you mention that it is like a commuter train... Not everyone is going the whole way.

 

Good Luck!

 

Ed.



#46 v v

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 10:08 AM

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.

 

Seaboard, how did that story end re the cancelled train? we got away lightly compared to you then



#47 v v

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 11:26 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!

 

 

 

Soon tell you Bob, we're arriving next week


Edited by v v, 13 March 2017 - 11:27 AM.


#48 v v

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 12:32 PM

Started to go back over the previous text to add relevant photos. Internet in the main since leaving the UK has been poor overall so the text and photos are a little awry. Bit by bit I'll get all photos uploaded to appropriate sections. There are also a couple of answers to questions from a personal point of view.

 

Ed, it did become obvious that the shoes were placed in a passengers compartment for a reason, but always being a mischievous person who took the odd chance made a guess that all parties were in collaboration with the sacks contents and it would be fun to see what happened. The end of the shoes story is now inserted into Day 4, nothing too dramatic but appropriate.

 

The Trans Sib from Moskva to Vladivostok runs in two forms, the Rossiya trains No's 001 & 002 depending on direction, and the real commuter train that covers the same 9288 km route but adds about 30 - 40 more stops to the 50 - 60 of the Rossiya (sorry don't have the No. of the 'stopper' train to hand but can find it for you this week if you wish.) the stopper train takes about another 1 1/2 days longer than the Rossiyas, and run every other day to the Rossiyas so there is an every day departure.

 

The Rossiyas have 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes, the 3rd class is an open carriage with 4 bunks facing each other and 2 in the corridor, bit like Indian trains? 2nd class (Kupe) is about half the price of 1st class, 3rd class is about half of 2nd class. The best way of buying tickets for price is through RZD, Russian Railways. Pick a day to purchase that isn't a public holiday though as their CC acceptances appear to be switched off on those days. You can't until recently anyway though get an E-ticket for the Trans Sib through RZD, we used Trans Siberian Express company who were the best priced after RZD and excellent service and will supply an E-ticket. If you buy from RZD you will get a voucher or code to collect your ticket on arrival in Moskva.

The stopper train has only 3rd class and maybe coach? but 3rd class is remarkably cheap if bought in advance. We never saw coach offered on any overnight train including those from Warszawa to Kyiv and Kyiv to Moscow, but didn't go out of my way to find them either.

Again if you have any other questions just ask and I'll look stuff up for you, it's all with us while we travel.

 

As you probably know the Trans Sib is only one of 3 routes, the other two the Trans Mongolian and the Trans Manchurian both of which end in Beijing are a mixture of commuter and tourism. There are I believe better eating and sleeping facilities on both these later routes. I can only really comment on the Trans Sib though. 

 

Opinion. 3rd class is interesting and very social, the facilities work but there are a lot of people using 2 only toilets. Maybe security is a small problem but all LD trains carry resident police. 

2nd class was a good option, very reasonable in our opinion, met other car passengers and had 3 different Russian men in the empty 4th bed in our compartment. The Rossiya we took was close to full most of the time, it is winter and although we met a couple of young men making a 3000km train trip to collect a car to be driven back to their home town they seemed like the exception, most thought that using the train was a no brainer. They admitted it may be dangerous as there is snow and ice all along their route but they were confident maybe due to age?

If you were to make the journey straight through it has to be said it's an epic and will test you, if that's your idea then you may find the few creature comforts of 2nd class a good idea.

2nd class is used a fair bit by the military, we met Army, Navy and Airforce personnel close-up, there are further military adventures to report later. They created a sense of balance and well being by being on board. 3rd class was used by Russians on a tight budget and travelling only 1 or 2 days, plus on this train a lot of Korean workers going home too.

The last carriage was a mystery that we were not allowed to access, as was the front one. Have to say though that at one stop I'd walked down the platform to photo something behind the train and out popped a very 'fit' young lady from the last car who proceeded to use a Hula Hoop on the platform for 15 minutes, she got quite an audience from the assembled Koreans and one or two others.

 

Barciur, our attempts at Russian were pathetic, we said 'yes' and 'thank you' a lot. Rosie started to get a grip of the Alphabet but you have to start actively learning a bit of Russian a fair while before leaving, and this was almost a last minute journey for us.

We and Russians often became very frustrated but neither party gave up on a subject very often. Lots of grimaces, smiles and back slapping appeared to work, and if it didn't there was plenty of goodwill. Not sure about for you but there were only 4 foreigners on our train - no that's a mistake as there a Korean couple who are travelling as tourists as far as we could tell which makes 6 - so we were a bit of a curiosity to the others and they tried their cotton socks off to help us. I was travelling with 2 ladies who smile a lot, it's a big help. As mentioned our Provodnitsa was exceptional, although very limited English she smoothed the odd thing out for us which gave us confidence. Last to your question of how did we manage with all the different contact we had in Russia. We made detailed plans to start and always created a Plan B, or if no plan B we were prepared to modify anything already planned. We tried not to take too much too seriously as there was always a way, and we did survive what I have to repeat is an epic journey and lived to tell the tale, but not without a close call  as you'll hear later. 

 

PS: After thinking about this overnight there were another couple of factors on getting by with the language. They are choose who you ask to help and translator apps on your phone. So on the Trans Sib we had train staff but most didn't or couldn't help, there are exceptions. Young people (a girl of 10 with her mother was our best English speaker) wanted to help as they have become very westernised indeed and have an interest in English/American language. Military in particular officers have more English than they admit. Professionals if they are obvious.

The phone translators work quite well providing you have a signal. So in towns and cities abbreviated questions/answers are easy with a phone. On the Trans Siberian Express phone coverage was only 10% at best and not necessarily available at the moment you need to translate something. 


Edited by v v, 16 March 2017 - 09:26 PM.


#49 v v

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 01:24 PM

Day 9 - Tuesday 7 March into Siberia   ~   Train Day 3

 

The hills are behind us, we've entered the Siberian Steppe. There is a lot of snow here and not too much road transport. The stands of Silver Birch trees in the snow are just beautiful, and even though they are repeated mile after mile they are no less stunning.

 

It's a simple day, sitting, getting off at every stop to walk a little, talking reading and writing, but mainly looking out at an endless landscape completely under snow. It's been a bright and sunny day today, looks beautiful in a stark way.

 

They refill the car water tanks every day even though there are no showers, one man services about 3 cars per stop. There are far more staff employed here than than in similar jobs in Europe, do they work on the basis that it's better to employ more people at lower wages and have more feel usefull?

 

A Russian Railways (RZD) tea glass and metal holder 

 

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An engine?

 

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A military train

 

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Typical view as it gets hilly

 

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Babushkas going about their business

 

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On the way to the restaurant car this evening Rosie bumps into an American lady travelling alone from choice. She travels the world mainly by train where she can as it's so much fun. At home she travels Amtrak a lot too, she lives to travel.

 

That makes for 6 foreigners on the whole train, 4 of us are travelling all the way to Vlad. 1 Taiwan - 1 American - 2 Korean - 2 English, the rest are Russian or Korean workers. The train is almost completely full, there are 11 or 12 accomodation cars.

 

 

​Moskva time shown on the station clock, real time who knows anymore...

 

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The restaurant car is of the modern type, looks very much like an Amtrak café car with fancy curtains, there are 3 staff in sight but only one serving the few customers. There is a chef somewhere too, maybe people eat earlier here?

Pricing is very good but the portions are small. Have to write that the food is nicely presented and we all say very tasty, but could do a little more to fill us.

 

We have stopped at Barabinsk while we are eating in the restaurant car and find a teenage boy has taken the 4th bunk when we return to our compartment. He looks slightly intimidated by the 3 older people who's space he has entered, but we all give him a smile and ask if he can speak English, he indicates a small amount but doesn't speak. After charging his phone he makes his bed and is away in his upper bunk. We all say that at that age we wouldn't have had much to say to 3 older room mates.

 

As mentioned before we are travelling through 7 time zones, but the train runs on Moscow Time (MT). The train timetable is all in MT, but to our surprise the internal life of the train is run at whatever time zone we are in, phew. It does get complicated as we have now crossed 4 time zones in 44 hours and have to keep up with the changes, but our timetable is running with no connection to day or night, very strange feeling.


Edited by v v, 17 March 2017 - 01:18 PM.


#50 v v

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 02:50 AM

Made it across the Big Nowhere and Lived to tell about it!

Now it's on to Asia!

 

It's a funny thing about the Big Nowhere, it is somewhere as people are dotted all along the rail line, either close to it or in the distance.

You travel sometimes a day or a day and a half with mostly nothing to distinguish the view from the window at that moment to a couple of hours before, then wham!, a major (frozen) river and a city the size of Dallas or bigger appears and goes on for miles and miles.

Did learn from Russians that beyond the rail corridor it gets pretty remote, and they do have real wildernesses similar to the remoter parts of Alaska and northern Canada.

Rosie's take on it was the scenery changed on a daily basis, one day it was all more or less the same and the next morning it was different but stayed that way all day until the next day.

Make no mistake there are a Zillion Silver Birch trees lining the track for about 8500km, but in the snow they do look very beautiful even without leaves, and without leaves it allows you to see far greater distances too. But there are also areas that are extremely beautiful too which are mostly after Ulan-Ude heading east through to Vladivostok.



#51 Bob Dylan

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 10:38 AM

Sounds like a scene out of Doctor Zhivago!😎

Really enjoying reading about y'alls adventure from my armchair but would rather be reading it on a train heading somewhere!😁
 
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 
".. I ride on a Mail Train Baby, can't buy a thrill.."--I said that!
 
"..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#52 v v

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 10:01 PM

Sounds like a scene out of Doctor Zhivago!

Really enjoying reading about y'alls adventure from my armchair but would rather be reading it on a train heading somewhere!

 

In places it was exactly like a scene from Dr Zhivago and the train passes through the town it was based on, Perm (although it was called Yuryatin)



#53 caravanman

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 07:04 AM

Very enjoyable read, and excellent photos too. I like the night shots and the interesting perspectives, you have a great eye! I guess you have a pretty decent camera?

 

Looking forward to the next instalment,

 

Ed.



#54 v v

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 10:47 AM

Day 10 - Wednesday 8 March Siberia   ~   Train Day 4

 

Not too much to report as we eat, sleep, read, talk and look out of the windows, a normal train day.

 

The colonel shook my hand as he walked past and our car attendant is even more charming, she's added unpaid childrens nanny to her range of skills and everything is done with a smile.

 

Rosie added the art of managing to buy platform food from a babushka today at Ilanskaya, these older women work so hard with very limited resources, standing out in some very low temperatures hoping train passengers will buy their home made food. She bought 2 pancakes and 2 Blini pancakes, all for 100 roubles. She came back with her trophies and said she didn't know what she had bought but they looked good. Two were interesting but ok, the other two were 'yummy' is Rosie's language, the girl done well.

 

Artur our 16 year old compartment addition is less shy today, phone translators are whizzing along at a furious rate but phone signals are very infrequent or not at all (we are in fairly remote central Siberia now) so it's a little like a comedy routine with key words missing. Either he or his father is a mechanic, agricultural engineering came into it too.
He does like cars and makes such as Dodge (trucks?) are his favourite,  maybe...  plus the more specialised Viper and Mustangs including Roush built cars. Ferrari and Aston Martin didn't figure so well in his thinking but maybe they are too delicate for Siberia?
His is either off to visit his girlfriend or go to college, that was one of the internet breaks. But he's a good kid and trying to join in I think for our sakes.

 

The train runs just a few minutes either side of the timetable times, but they do get priority (at least the Rossiya No's 1 & 2 do) over freight. They handle all the technical side affected by ultra low temeratures fairly easily too, 2nd day out the car attendants are out working using long handled narrow ice shovels to chip ice from the suspension springs.

 

There has been a big snowfall here at some time, the small houses sit with what looks like big dollops of custard on their roofs, picture postcard stuff.
The snow is pristine with hardly an animal track to be seen, only the occasional tire or snowmobile track to be seen. Becoming prettier, colder  and slightly more hilly.

 

Almost all compartments have their doors closed for most of the day and evening, this is a very reserved group of people who prefer their own company. We also don't think it would make much difference if we spoke Russian as there is hardly any chat between compartments. It is something we miss as that is the glory of long distance train travel, you get to know your neighbours a little, oh how we miss Amtrak.

 

Ruth who is a very active person is taking every opportunity to walk here or there when she can, or get off to photo things at every stop, it is our 4th day on the train and we all look forward to stops just to remind ourselves there is an outside.

 

At the river Yenisey we are at the middle of Siberia, it is the traditional border. The city of Krasnoyarsk is nearby, it is the 3rd largest city in Siberia.

 

We are now in the old Gulag territory, forced labour camps in this remote and very cold region. They still mine coal and other minerals and it looks as though the railway plays it's full part in moving goods. The track in places is a little less smooth here, it's a wonder it's not worse when the whole region is so cold for so long each year


Edited by v v, 18 March 2017 - 09:30 PM.


#55 v v

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 12:16 PM

01:12am 16 March 2017 - Kaohsiung, Taiwan tonight, warm overcast day and evening 20 - 25 oC

 

Remainder of photos for Kyiv are now posted into Day 3​. Had a great evening this evening at a special restaurant and a really buzzing night market. Tomorrow afternoon travel by High Speed Japan built rail to Taipei, built along the lines of the bullet train so we're told. 


Edited by v v, 16 March 2017 - 09:29 PM.


#56 Seaboard92

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 01:00 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.

 
Seaboard, how did that story end re the cancelled train? we got away lightly compared to you then
We started at Centraal where we were to go to Midi to catch the train. We hustled on to the right platform. Then they decided to cancel the train for just midi station so we hurried onto a train for Nord. Arrived at nord and went to the right track when they cancelled the train completely. So talking to a station attendant my grandmother who has trouble walking convinced him to let us use the elevator which you need his key for. We walked a short distance under the tracks in this employees only area that looked like it hadn't seen repairs since the 50s and back up where they put us on an over crowded IC to Vieviers where I ended up sitting on the floor by the door. When we got off that DB had buses for some people but they were directing people to an RDC looking train to Aachen before the buses so we got on that. Had an interesting discussion with a Palestinian professor. Then we were put on an IC replacement at Aachen which had to wait for busses to come so we sat in Aachen for two hours. On a train that was 15 cars long with only three cars worth of passengers eventually. Made it home six hours late.

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Amtrak Routes I've riden: Silver Star(NYP-ORL), Silver Meteor(KIS-NYP),Carolinian(CLT-NWK), Palmetto (FLO-NYP), Acela(WAS-NYP), NE Regional(WBG-RVR), Pacific Surfliner(SAN-OSD), Piedmont(CLT-SAL), Crescent(NYP-CLT), Cardinal (WAS-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Cascade (PDX-SEA)

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#57 v v

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 11:55 AM

 

 

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.

 
Seaboard, how did that story end re the cancelled train? we got away lightly compared to you then
We started at Centraal where we were to go to Midi to catch the train. We hustled on to the right platform. Then they decided to cancel the train for just midi station so we hurried onto a train for Nord. Arrived at nord and went to the right track when they cancelled the train completely. So talking to a station attendant my grandmother who has trouble walking convinced him to let us use the elevator which you need his key for. We walked a short distance under the tracks in this employees only area that looked like it hadn't seen repairs since the 50s and back up where they put us on an over crowded IC to Vieviers where I ended up sitting on the floor by the door. When we got off that DB had buses for some people but they were directing people to an RDC looking train to Aachen before the buses so we got on that. Had an interesting discussion with a Palestinian professor. Then we were put on an IC replacement at Aachen which had to wait for busses to come so we sat in Aachen for two hours. On a train that was 15 cars long with only three cars worth of passengers eventually. Made it home six hours late.

 

 

Appears to be a common thread running through the operations of Bruxelles Midi station



#58 v v

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 12:10 PM

Day 11 - Thursday 9 March across Siberia   ~   Train Day 5

 

​Early hours of the morning, a strange night. Each of the 4 of us in the compartment couldn't sleep and no idea why. Rosie sitting up reading, Ruth and Artur each on their phones, me writing more of the report.

 

Morning, fresh snow and train climbing into hills and then low mountains, quite a lot of track curves one after the other. Roads not cleared but smoke coming from a few chimneys so people around. We are close to Lake Baikal, the worlds deepest and largest by volume fresh water lake in the world. It's hard to imagine a lake over a mile deep, and more difficult now as it is frozen, usually to 3m (c. 10 feet) deep for much of the winter.

 

 

First sighting of Lake Baikal

 

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More Baikal

 

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We are approaching Ulan-Ude, a major rail junction and city. An odd thing happened in our car, many of the closed compartment doors are now open with people standing chatting in the corridor, the atmosphere feels lighter with people smiling and acting as though they have known each other for years. It has happened only today and we wonder if it's because many are leaving the train, the reserve is no longer required? And that's exactly what did happen. There was a big turnover of passengers and again to our surprise more got on than off, the same happened all the way from here to Vladivostok.

 

 

Views looking from the lake south

 

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Further expanse of Lake Baikal

 

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Arriving Ulan-Ude to follow...


Edited by v v, 17 March 2017 - 01:43 PM.


#59 oregon pioneer

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 02:59 PM

Views looking from the lake south

 

attachicon.gifS11909.jpg

 

attachicon.gifS11911.jpg

 

 

Wow, a ski hill out there in the middle of Siberia! I wonder who the patrons are? The middle class of Ulan-Ude?


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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.


#60 Barciur

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 04:47 PM

Fantatsic pictures! This all makes me want to go back to RUssia to do the whole trip! Looking forward to your next endeavors!






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