When we were planning our trip, one of the really exciting parts was the journey across Siberia and the mass of nothingness…. So it feels slightly surreal that we are staring this stage of the trip square between the eyes, and we both really have mixed emotions about it. How can it have come round already? Are we really about to do this? After months of planning it is actually happening!
I have been lucky so far. I’ve had my own personal (Trafalgar accredited) Travel Director / travel buddy to show me around all the places we have been. We hit the ground running in Warsaw, sought out the back streets in Vilnius, strolled around like a local in St Petersburg and rode the Metro with ease in Moscow (without Dean I think I would still be doing loops on the brown line!). So for us, the real adventure was always going to begin when we left the comfort of where at least one of us had been before and where be both started to experience something new. That in itself is exciting.
We (the Royal ‘we’ of course) have spent months planning this trip, pouring over train timetables and deciphering schedules, only to come up with our perfect route. The choice of which train(s) to take was made for various reasons. We could have split our next 72 hour journey up into smaller sections, stopping more often or evening staying on longer. However we thought 3 ½ days on the train was long enough to get a real sense of the scales and size of the country and for us, it worked perfectly. Besides we are travelling in winter, and some things are closed, fountains turned off and plants covered for the winter, so we had to be realistic about what we see and do. Seeing Red Square and St Basil’s with a dust of snow was magical, so for me it is a very special time of year to be here and I wouldn’t trade it for peak season for anything.
I remembering sitting on a bus from Alice Springs to Cairns, and it was one of the best things I did in Oz. Watching cattle station after cattle station and kangaroo after kangaroo pass by reaffirmed what I already knew – Australia is a big place! I’m sure this journey will do the same. We have got some great stop overs on this epic journey, but first we must tackle the long first stage.
We are likely to drop at least 10 degrees along the way – and coming from a temperature of -4 today that won’t be pretty, but we are prepared. We have our cold weather gear (not forgetting my awesome funky boots!) and our cameras at the ready. We have our Vodka to keep us warm (!) and games to keep us entertained. Above all we have our provisions – porridge, tea, noodles, soups etc. all to live like kings on this magical journey. For us this is the really start of our trip, the exciting venture into the unknown and we can’t wait to get going… but we don’t want it to go too quickly! Dean remembers talking to me in Africa and apparently I said to him that the next and last big trip I wanted to do was the Trans-Mongolian Train across to Beijing. I don’t remember that conversation and neither of us knew at that point we would be doing it together!
So all that’s left now is to hope we end up with good cabin buddies on the train… who don’t make us drink TOO much Vodka. See you on the other side of / in Siberia!!!