Day 14 - Saturday or Sunday 11 or 12 March arrival Vladivostok ~ Train Day 6, 7 or 8
Our train the Rossiya 002 arrives within a minute or so of on-time, quite remarkable considering the distance ( 9288 km ) the climate varying in the week we travelled from + 20 oC ( 68 oF ) to - 20 oC ( -4 oF ) , the remoteness across sometimes very difficult terrain, or that we humans can easily make mistakes to add to the other difficulties.
Two things stood out when compared to the Amtrak rail system. The passenger trains rarely have to wait for freight trains, please don't ask why as I don't have the answer. There is quite a lot of freight traffic but not to the level we saw last week in the USA (which alone was responsible to make us 2 hours and 30 or 40 minutes late into New York Penn), in particular not as much shipping container traffic by a long way.
The machinery and materials required to repair and improve the track was never far from any given point, simply vast resources were constantly visible. In general Russia appears more willing to maintain infrastructure than some other countries.
No idea if RZD is publically or privately funded, do know Amtrak struggles to find serious public investment for improvements and future projects.
At the end of the line, Lenin is there to welcome us and point back towards Moskva
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A plaque with the kilometres travelled from Moscow
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The front of Vladivostok Station, looks as though it came out of a Fairy Tale
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Anatoly was first off the train, a warm goodbye to us all. Stepping off the train there are many hugs from Helena, she has looked after us as though we were her own. We are told she loves us and wants us to visit her in Moscow, we will probably try to do that one day.
Having been warned by Gemuser that the stairs at the end of the platform are monstrous, we head for the station building in the hope that we can get up to street level by a lift maybe. Through security as we pass through the doors at platform level, but only stairs are available. The saving grace is the internal stairs come in short bursts with landings between them, it does make for easier progress and the stairs are shallower than the steep platform ones.
The station is very decorative inside too, in a Russian way of course.
Inside of Vladivostok station
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The track side of Vladivostok station, it reminded Rosie and I of Chenonceau Chateau in the French Loire Valley. The Chateau has water passing under the arches, the station has trains
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As we exit the station at street level we must pass through a second security check, this has now become second nature all over Russia. The hotel Moryak is not too far away from the station but there is snow and ice on the pavements and the hills are just like San Francisco, pretty steep in places. A cab it is but Moryak is on a one way street so we have to detour a fair way to enter from the right direction. Cab driver undercharges us and explains it is not our fault that the one way system adds about 2 miles to the journey, he's charges us only for the direct walking route, quite amazing.
Moryak was a former seaman's mission and was part way through being converted to a hotel. It had nautical murals painted all over including sea creatures and mermaids, felt like a Russian version of a Disney themed attraction. Staff were very good, excellent English and very helpful. Apologised a few times that there was no lift and we were on the 3rd floor. There was also a café restaurant in the hotel, the menu was comprehensive and odd to us, but on trying a few things for breakfast we were happily surprised that we liked the various concoctions.
We all scrambled for the showers after breakfast, it's been 8 days since we last saw one and it was sorely needed (if only by me).
At this point I am not very well, a Siberian cold or flu that I have had for 3 days has now become more powerful. I elect to go to bed until the afternoon, Rosie and Ruth are off to discover Vladivostok.
So we have completed journey, it did feel momentous. 7 days on a train without a break becomes an endurance test, mentally and physically, but for us it was not boring or unpleasant, the time passed rapidly and although there were rarely any spectacular sights to be seen everything from the smallest detail was new to us. We all agreed we felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel this great railway, admired that fact it worked completely from end to end, and particularly admired the Provodniks and Provodnitsas maintaining the cars in very good clean condition until the very end.
Would we do it again? no is the agreed answer.
Is it a once in a lifetime experience? you bet and one not to be missed if you like an adventure and particularly if you are a rail fan.
Would we visit Russia again? certainly as it's a fascinating country coming out of a difficult period. The people we met were energetic and forward looking, at some time they would like to be accepted into the wider world but know it will take time.
Photos of Vladivostok
The frozen Pacific Ocean...
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with people walking on it...
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a long way out
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Just a short distance away the deep-water harbour inlet, apparently rarely freezes
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Edited by v v, 01 April 2017 - 07:49 PM.