A dear friend sent some links to the Trans Siberian Railway. I embarked on a trip across Russia in 2014, from Vladivostok to Moscow (and on to St. Petersburg). It brought back some great memories. Would I go again? Probably not. Nine time zones, and one third of the earth’s surface, a two week trip.
Here are some highlights, or lowlights, as the case might be:
A van is parked on frozen Lake Baikal, in the southern part of eastern Siberia. Baikal is the oldest existing freshwater lake on the planet—some 20 million years old—and the deepest continental body of water, reaching a depth of 1,620 metres (5,315 feet). It is also the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, containing roughly one-fifth of the Earth’s surface fresh water.
According to Russian historians, the Trans Siberian Railway tried to take a shortcut across frozen Baikal in the winter. They laid tracks, and of course, the first effort resulted in a locomotive at the bottom of the lake. Back then, scientists did not know the lake is fed by multiple underground springs, some of which are heated volcanically.
Of course I took a tour boat across the lake, only a day after a heavy May snowstorm. But the omul, a fish famous for Lake Baikal, is delicious when smoked, and consumed with a cold pivo. Those were several days I will never forget, for many reasons. My ATM would not work, nor my wi-fi. But I met Uzbek traders, Yekaterinburg bikers, Russian hackers, KGB agents, and some friendly PhD students from Omsk. Or was it Tomsk?