Monthly Archives: October 2013

Off The Rails – Westbound.

The journey ends, or at least transforms itself, when arriving to Vladivostok.

We’re in Asia, in the Far East, close to North Korea, right next to China and a mere 2-3 days by boat from Japan, yet, the city has an incredible western vibe and mood, much more accentuated that what I found in Moscow.

The journey ends, yes, at least the train one does, because from here it’s only 2 days to hop on and off the buses, the hills, the submarine in the street (?) and the beautiful women. I would’ve loved to be more than a couple of hours here, but the schedule was tight. However, I think I was able to see enough of it just to want to go back again and finally catch the night vibe and the wonderful landscapes.

This time, the picture were taken in Baikal lake, some in Yekaterinsburg, Vladivostok and inside the train, where all the action was. It was very funny to notice how people looked at me when changing cars, specially when arriving to another plaskart, since nobody expected a “tourist” in their cars, all the eyes turned to me and they were disturbed, confused, wandering and many, many more expressions.

From Vladivostok it’s plane back to Moscow. A flight attendant gives me a judgmental look when asking her for a beer, telling me “you’ll be able to get one when we get to Moscow” (in, like, 6 hours). I mean, no drinks in russian airplanes!? But everywhere on the streets? Alright, maybe we’re strangers, I don’t know. Then, while queuing for the loo, a drunk russian passenger talked to me some… stuff in russian, and then I get the alcohol “free” flight.

From here on, it’s only a matter of time until everything sets on what I’ve just experienced. I still have a few days to travel, and a few weeks until everything sets in and my words start to depict the whole experience. Finally, I’m not an Asia-virgin anymore.

Enjoy.

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On The Rails – Eastbound.

mirko vlakZagreb, Moscow, Irkutsk (after 3,5 days on a train), Vladivostok (after some 4,5 days on a train), Moscow again (7,5 hour flight), Saint Petersburg, Moscow yet again and finally Zagreb.

If my thoughts on the journey I underwent a few weeks ago are delayed, it’s because it’s hard for me to get everything together. The faces, the impressions when riding the huge, bunker-ish Moscow subway, the health issues when traveling such great distances and feeding only with dehydrated noodles, bread and tea/coffee. It is a lot to take in, loads of pictures to show, many experiences, some good, some crappy, some disappointing but overall, a wonderful travel.

While I get my head around the words, I’ll share a few images that show a bit my travel through Siberia on a train. Some call this ride the “Trans-siberian” route, but I think that nowdays it’s such a touristic attraction that the whole point of this railway has gone lost, and since I traveled in third class, ate, drank and slept in a single wagon with 50+ russians, I felt closer to what the Tsar’s began more than a century ago, connecting Moscow with the Far East, not only for wealthy tourists alone, but to make of it’s country one more connected and prosperous, and since I lived in Patagonia until not so long ago, I’ve felt how it is when your capital is far away.

Should you be inspired by some of this, to take hit the rails, and get on this adventure, I’ll let you know that all the tickets (air fares and train tickets) where just around USD $1000, and this covers to ride and fly through 20.000 ish kms, that’s quite a lot. It is not the more comfortable way of traveling, nor the most easy for non-russians, since they’ll inspect you in every way, they might get noisy, they will get drunk, they will try to connect with you even if you don’t speak a tiny bit of russian.

And then you’ll remember the travel like one of the best travels in your entire life.

From Russia with love.

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