St. Petersburg Journals

Travelling the Trans-Siberian & Mongolian Railways

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An April 2006 trip to St. Petersburg by sararevell

Travel Photo by IgoUgo memberMore Photos
Quote: In Spring 2006, we travelled by train from St. Petersburg to Shanghai by way of the Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Irkutsk and the Trans-Mongolian from Irkutsk to Beijing. Despite the lengthy journey time and border crossings, we settled into the pace of train travel with relative ease.

Travelling the Trans-Siberian & Mongolian Railways

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Overview

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
I have to admit that one major achievement was that on our first day aboard the “Baikal” Trans-Siberian train, we managed to locate the mythical shower room. With the help of our Russian neighbour who acted as translator and guide, the provodnitsa directed us to a room at the end of wagon 5 where we treated ourselves to two showers over the course of the three-day ride.The first scenic highlight of our trip was our short stop in Siberia. For two nights, we stayed on the shore of Lake Baikal, which at 1600 meters/5277 feet is the deepest lake in the world. In early May, the lake was still completely frozen over and solid enough that we saw a few lone fisherman venture out on foot to fishing hol...Read More
Trans-Siberian Train Photo, Vladivostok, Russia
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Departs Moscow Yaroslavsky Station at 11.29pm from 5 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad.We arrived at Moscow’s Yaroslavsky Station in good time for our 11.29pm departure. Missing the train when traveling on the Trans-Siberian didn’t seem like a wise move so we tended to show up 1-2 hours before the departure times just to make sure that we were in the right place and knew exactly which platform our train would be departing from. Even at the late hour Yaroslavsky Station was especially busy so it took us a while to find a seat in the vast waiting room. We then searched for an ATM so we could withdraw enough cash to last us for three days although when we found out that most of our meals would be included ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 24, 2007

Trans-Siberian Train Photo, Vladivostok, Russia
Quote:
(continued from Part I) Our beds consisted of two cushy bunks, with large puffy pillows, a substantial duvet and an additional blanket. There was no danger of getting cold as the heating was kept at a comfortable temperature. It was, however, a sharp contrast to the outside temperature, which was so cold that it often sent us running back to the train for warmth at the infrequent 15-20 minute platform stops.The cabins were decorated with four metallic landscape pictures (the locations of which I couldn’t quite discern) and three large mirrors. The curtains were a strange blue and yellow shiny silky material with colours matching the bedcovers and the narrow blue and gold rug that ran down the ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 24, 2007

Trans-Mongolian Train in Mongolia Photo, St. Petersburg, Russia
Quote:
The Trans-Mongolian journey from Irkutsk to Ulan Baatar was a very different experience from our first train. The accommodations were far more basic and the carriage interior was a stark clinical white with no noticeable efforts of decoration. The cabin configuration was the same but this time the beds were hard and unmade. We had clean white sheets, and a slightly tattered, bristly red blanket for warmth. They did provide a towel although the bathroom amenities were also very basic and there was no paper or soap in the toilets and most definitely no shower room.We had to ask for utensils such as mugs for tea and a spoon for eating the delicious yogurts we discovered in Russia. The provodnitsa...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 24, 2007

Trans-Siberian Restaurant Car

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Story/Tip

Trans-Siberian Train  Photo, Vladivostok, Russia
Quote:
The change in food as you travel west to east on the Trans-Siberian and Mongolian trains is noticeable. The further east you go, the better the food becomes. I have to admit that apart from borscht I’ve yet to experience a really good Russian meal. I know that plane and train food has a worldwide reputation for being bad, but on a couple of nights, the chef (if there was one) gave a whole new meaning to bad train food.The restaurant car attendant served us quietly, dressed in a short crimson skirt and a crimson pin-stripe waistcoat over a transparent black lace blouse. In contrast to the provodnitsas’ button up coats, she seemed to be the train’s ambassador for racy uniforms.Our meals ...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on August 24, 2007

Trans-Mongolian Restaurant Car

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Story/Tip

Trans-Mongolian Dining Car Photo, St. Petersburg, Russia
Quote:
Describing the Mongolian dining car will be a short exercise as for most of the journey through Mongolia, there wasn’t one. From Irkutsk to Ulan-Baatar we relied mostly on supplies bought in Irkutsk. We stocked up on bottled water, orange juice, biscuits, beer, yogurts and also a few “instant” meal pots that only required the addition of hot water. We bought some instant noodles but a couple pots turned out to be instant mash potato, which was a little strange but not totally unappetizing.Four painfully slow hours after leaving Irkutsk the train reached Lake Baikal at midnight. At this station, vendors patrolled the platform with buckets of smoked Omul fish. I’d been foolish enough not to buy ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 24, 2007

Booking and Buying The Tickets

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Story/Tip

Trans-Siberian and Mongolia Train Tickets Photo, Vladivostok, Russia
Quote:
Svezhy Veter Travel Agency426000 Izhevsk Karla Marxa 228a, RussiaTel: 7.341.245.0037sv@sv-agency.udm.ru www.sv-agency.udm.ru There are various ways to book tickets for the Trans-Siberian train. We had read stories about people who just turn up and buy once they’re in the country as this is one way to obtain tickets at the cheapest price. On the flipside, by doing this you risk not being able to find tickets for your preferred departure date.We were taking some fairly expensive camera equipment with us and thought that traveling in a first class compartment would be ...Read More
Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
When we decided to book tickets for the Trans-Siberian I really had no idea of what life would be like on the trains. The first train from Moscow would take three days to reach Irkutsk and I wondered if there would be enough to divert us.We boarded the train in Moscow close to midnight so our first few hours were spent sleeping. On our first day, we became friends with our neighbour Sam who was traveling to Perm for the upcoming 1st May holiday celebrations. He spoke excellent English and introduced us to the elderly gentleman sharing his compartment who was returning from Moldova where his daughter lived. He lamented the desperate state of life in Moldova and also Georgia where he said unempl...Read More