So we have reached the end of the line – train line that is and it’s time to board our first commercial flight.
When we left London on the Eurostar back on the 18th November this day seemed a lifetime away…. Or rather at that point our flight wasn’t even booked so we didn’t know when the day was coming.
Our aim was to travel overland, without flying, as far as possible, travelling on the Trans Mongolian train and beyond. We hoped to get as far as India and we managed it. Alright we did take one joy-flight over Everest but it wasn’t a scheduled flight and we ended where we begun so it didn’t really count!
We have travelled through 12 countries and at times it has felt both impossible and unbelievable to be where we are. How could we be seeing the Great Wall or Taj Mahal without getting on a plane? Were we really there? On many occasions we have had to pinch ourselves and there is still part of me that can’t believe we are really here and what we’ve done!
Most of our journeys have been via train. We have racked up just under 20,000 KM (or almost 12,500 miles) on the railways through Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China and India and spent many (sometimes uncomfortable!) hours travelling over 3000 KM (or 1865 miles) on buses in Lithuania and Nepal. In amongst this we’ve had a couple of car journeys (notably Tibet) totalling almost 1400km (or 865 miles) and we’ve loved every minute. I have never spent so much time on trains as I have over these last few months, although from my early days visiting Grandparents in Yorkshire, I always loved them. It is an amazing way to travel and one I’d do again in a heartbeat (with slightly less luggage!).
Each and every journey has had its highs and lows. Comparisons are all too easy to make and it’s hard as all the journeys were so different, but here are my highs (and lows!):
* Cleanest train: Russian Trans Siberian
* Best restaurant car: joint winner – Trans Siberian – it was older than me and kitsch car on train from Ulan Batar
* Most scenic train: high altitude ride from Cheng Du to Lhasa
* Most forgiving train: Russian train from Frankfurt as they waited for us when our connection was late!
* Grumpiest : Russian ladies – but they maintained their carriages so well!
* Worst door security: India trains as they don’t lock them (fun fun fun!)
* Dirtiest toilets: China trains – hands down winner yuk yuk yuk (they were that bad its what prompted this list!)
* Most old fashioned / trains with most character: India trains
* Most consistently delayed trains: Indian!
* Train with best Champagne – Eurostar!!!
Along the way we have met some lovely people, both locals and foreigners not to mention our film crew friends on that initial Trans Siberian journey. Thank you to everyone who has followed the journey so far, and to those in Canada who saw us on the CBC broadcast and have taken the time to track our blog down!
We have scheduled this blog to send as we take off from Delhi airport. We have such mixed views about flying out as we’d love to continue overland but the borders just aren’t open and so we have no choice. This flight is the end of the first phase and larger part of our trip, but we still have loads to look forward to! We fly around the houses and then eventually land in Myanmar where Dean has a special treat lined up for Valentines Day (stated tuned!). After two weeks exploring we then head down to Australia which we are both very excited about. We’ll spend time with Deans family, then my parents arrive (very exciting!) before our second wedding party – hurray! Finally it will be time for a second honeymoon in the Philippines.
So as we say goodbye to overland travel we are excited about the next steps of our adventure. Above all we are very proud of what we have achieved on this trip. We set out to travel by train and thats exactly what we’ve done. It has been, and continues to be just an amazing experience. I just need to find the brake pedal as time is going too fast!