The Trans-Siberian Express
Distance: 5,772 miles
Duration: More than six days (I took about 14 days)
The longest rail journey in the world (and getting longer) is the stuff of legend—a train ride that starts in Moscow and ends, more than six days later, in Vladivostok. Over the course of the journey, the train crosses time zone after time zone and the landscape changes constantly, from the Ural Mountains to Lake Baikal and all the steppes one could want in between. Trains depart every two days.
I did the trip “backwards”, in other words, from Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan, to Moscow. Most people go from Moscow to Vladivostok. Why did I go backwards? I wanted to start my trip in Tokyo, see a dear friend, and enjoy some really good food before having to eat Russian train food. But I ended on a high note in St. Petersburg.
I did run into a few problems, the worst of which was being unable to use my ATM card on my first extended stay on land, in Lake Baikal.
Actually, there was one BIG problem, as I missed my train from Ekaterinburg, ended up in second class, and barely made it to Moscow. But I was never in danger of being arrested or taken to a Russian brothel and stripped of my credit cards and cash!
I was telling some people I met from Michigan about the trip, and the “hidden” parts of Russia in general. They could not believe I did the trip solo! But I never really felt alone, except for the two times I was at the mercy of Moscow cabbies. They are a breed unto themselves, half human, half asshole!!!
I have taken other train trips, before and after. But the Trans Siberian is the “mother” of all train trips.
It turns out I had a young physician in our riding group from the Ukraine. And my cousin’s father speaks fluent Russian. And the man down the street from where my Mom was raised in Sanger, was called “The Mad Russian.” He won the Indy 500 twice!
Would I do it again? Probably not, as it is a long time to spend on a train. Was it worth it? Of course, it was one of those trips of a lifetime, one of many I have been fortunate to take. I met some really interesting people on this trip.
For more detail at the Trans Siberian, please search my previous blogs from 2014.