Just want to let everyone know that I won’t be posting again until I reach Vladavostok on Oct 3.
Archive for September, 2009
Didn’t get lost or anything just spent 6 nights on trains but have arrived in Ulan-Bator & looks pretty COOL so just post this, catch up on emails & go exploring.
St Petersburg is all it’s touted to be & then some!!
If you can only visit one city in Europe my vote would be for St Petersburg, wouldn’t want to live there, but to visit you would be hard pressed to find a cleaner city with more fine buildings & history.
The Hermitage is so much grander than pictures can show that at first sight it simply blows your mind away. Take a couple days to spend in town + another to visit the summer palace & don’t forget a boat tour of the canals (Amsterdam comes in a poor 2nd place) & you will had a super trip at reasonable cost, providing you use hostels as hotels are way too pricey.
Once you have seen St Petersburg there is not much reason to bother with Moscow unless you are into big squares & want to say you have seen the Kremlin, fine to do on a lay over waiting for the Trans-Mongolian train #4 but not worth otherwise.
Also have to give a thumbs up to the Russian train system where you encounter real live people not just machines, can’t talk to them as English has finally petered out but sign language normally works & street food at stations is not only cheap but good!
Seat 61 website has the train systems down pat & their description of the 3 Trans-Siberian trains is right on the money. Originally was assigned a couchette with a couple Swedish girls but they had friends in the next one & a couple nice Basque guys traded with them so am with them & only 3 of us in a 4 berth compartment so more room.
Everyone in our car speaks at least a bit of English (except the Chinese train crew) so just one big family for 4 days. The Basque’s are great & there is another Spanish couple in the next compartment who speak Spanish & naturally I hang out with them so getting brushed up on my Spanish & they are a lot easier to understand than the Latin American version.
Also unlimited hot water at the front of the car as each is heated independently by it’s own coal fired boiler & the vendors at the stations have an assortment of meals that you just add hot water to so no need for the dining car & beer is only 35 Rubbles at the vendors so back on budget!
The cars we are in are Chinese so don’t know if all are the same but electrical supply is 48 volts DC (strange as engine is electric) so iPhone & computer chargers don’t work. Phone has been dead since Tuesday & an hr left on ‘puter battery. Just found a 110 plug in the dining car so charged my iPhone so now have tunes!
We in North America have been kept in the dark about the real Siberia, makes Canada’s north & Alaska look “Mickey Mouse” wannabees compared to what the Russians have accomplished!
Siberia is a lot more populated than I thought with lots of small towns, a fair number of larger ones + a few small cities but on the whole seems not too prosperous, all in all an interesting trip & recommended to anyone wanting to getaway & chill for a week. Seems quite a few are getting off in Ulan-Bator, the Spanish couple are taking a week Land Rover tour.
Half the train got off in Ulan-Bator so it’s becoming a big stop for travelers, more to come.
Well booked the Stadion hostel, the stadium for the 1952 Olympics, in Helsinki for 3 nights at a reasonable price (have to get back on budget).
Train trips in Scandinavia were much better than Eurorail & cheaper than British ... [Continue reading this entry]
Even though I have been on the road almost a month & blown my budget into orbit! I only used the first segment of my One World RTW ticket on Sunday when I flew from LHR’s terminal 5 (the airport ... [Continue reading this entry]
Warning this is a RANT!!
The Gestapo at Heathrow make Uncle Sam’s Home Land Security look like a bunch of kindergarten cops!
Why the citizens of any country, claiming to be a democracy put up with this ... [Continue reading this entry]
While the rail service from Copenhagen to Amsterdam was a disappointment from what I believed it would be from reading about it there were a couple bright spots; the ticket agent in Copenhagen turned out to be one of those ... [Continue reading this entry]
Have put off posting the next installment for a while trying to find some redeeming factors about Amsterdam but that didn’t happen.
The European Rail System while fast & efficient was a major disappointment for developed countries in ... [Continue reading this entry]