Blogs from Russia, Europe - page 9


Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 7th 2014

Considered the end of most Trans Siberian journeys, Vladivostok is the beginning of mine. I arrived here from Japan, originally planned via a ferry on the Sea of Japan. Instead, due to time constraints, and the fact that three days and two nights on the Sea of Japan are not my idea of enjoyable travel, I flew here from Tokyo Haneda airport. The interesting part of this flight to Vladivostok was my layover in Seoul, Korea, birthplace of my adopted daughter, Sarah, in 1988. Vladivostok is the proverbial end of this momentous journey, it is yet the beginning of mine. The city sits on the Pacific Rim, a naval port that still holds strategic significance for the Puntinites. It is the home of the Russian Pacific Fleet, and the largest Russian port on the Pacific. During ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Krasnoyarsk May 6th 2014

5900 miles of the TSR took nearly a quarter century to build. The approval to build was given in 1891, and construction was inaugurated by the Tsarevitch Nicholas at Vladivostok on 31 May 1891. Work began at both ends, like our Transcontinental Railroad, and within 12 years, the line was in place except for 2 sections: crossing the great freshwater Lake Baikal and an 800 mile stretch through Manchuria (the Chinese Eastern Railway) which was in foreign territory. In 1895, about 66,000 men, and their accompanying womenfolk and children, were engaged in building the railway. There were 36,629 navies, 13,080 carters, 5,851 surfacemen, 4,310 carpenters, 4,096 stone masons and 2,091 riveters. The first train from Moscow arrived at Irkutsk (the Paris of Siberia) on 16 Aug. 1898. Before completion of the Circumbaikal loop, it ... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 6th 2014

Siberia has been under Russian rule since the late 16th century, similar to the Americans settlement of North America. Treaties placed cast tracts of land under Russian rule. Until the railway was built, travel to and across Siberia was slow and painful. The Great Siberian Railway or Iron Road was one quarter complete in June, 1895. Criminal labor was used with incentives to make the work attractive. A regulation was made by the Governor-General of Irkutsk so eight months of railway work counted as one year of imprisonment, or hard labor. For exiles, the term requiring them to be registered as peasants was reduced in the proportion of one year for two. For those compelled to live in far Siberia, the term of deportation was shortened by counting one year as two. Of particular interest to ... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Sakhalin May 6th 2014

Part of Siberia includes Sakhalin Island, near Russian east coast, just north of Japan. It was originally a prison colony during tsarist times, much like the state of Georgia (U.S.), and Australia. A mere six hundred miles northeast is the peninsula of Kamchatka. dividing the Sea of Okhotsk from the Bering Sea. Kamchatka lies squarely within the Pacific Rim's Ring of Fire, and still has active volcanoes. In fact, the highest point in Siberia is the Klyuchevskaya volcano at 15,580 feet. A common joke for Russian school children makes reference to this remote land. The worst students sat in the far back of the class, called Kamchatka. But I do remember learning the name of this remote peninsula in high school geography class. The well known board game, Risk involved ruthlessness and intercontinental strategizing. Since the ... read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok May 6th 2014

As of yesterday, February 5, I have my Russian Visa for travel to Russia in May. It is a single entry visa, valid for up to 30 days. Russian visas cannot be obtained at the border. Travel insurance is also required for the duration of any trip here. But this visa requires something else: Invitation to Russia from a host person or organization. Yes, you must have this before they will issue a visa. Fortunately, the company from which I am getting my Trans Siberian Railway tickets is my sponsor. The company is called Real Russia, and is based in the U.K. But they may ask for more. The Consular Division of the Embassy also has the right to call the applicants for an interview and request, if needed: • a bank statement from the applicant; ... read more


Europe » Russia » Centre May 6th 2014

Having boarded the train Ufa-Moscow at about 1 o’clock in the night, I, of course, went to bed and slept until 10 in the morning. During the day, I suffered because the sun shone almost directly in my face and the window had no curtain. My travel companion this time was the excellent book by Mark Twain ‘The Innocents Abroad’. Mark Twain is one of my favourite writers, and this is almost 400 pages of pure pleasure (except the passages on religion, because I do not understand much of it). It is a must-read for any traveler. I have read about 1/3 of the book while on trains. This time I was rather attentive to what was going on around me and noticed that at a number of smaller stations (mainly villages) a couple or more ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg May 6th 2014

So I have been incredibly terrible in adding blog posts and I am becoming dangerously close to forgetting everything that happened in Russia so I'm now just going to create a list of stuff that happened. 6 May St Petersburg: The Germans went out on their own this day so the girls went to the State Hermitage for the morning. We lost Fairlie in the morning which was quite stressful: the queues were huge and she went away to see if she could buy from a machine, then she completely disappeared. Thankfully she reappeared just as we had got to the front of the queue - there's a cheeky hour wasted. The State Hermitage was absolutely massive, and some of the art was amazing. There was also a mummy in the Egyptian section which was completely ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg May 5th 2014

I'm afraid that the delay between posts may mean that the details from this time may be fuzzy but I'm trying my best to recall everything. If only I were more like Adrian Mole. Curses. The third day of my travels was also the day on which I met the Vodkatrain group, i.e. my travel companions for the next three weeks. So I woke up late (again) and moved to the hostel that the tour company had chosen, namely Red House (Jimi Hendrix themed because Russia). This was just the other end of Nevskiy Prospekt and was not much further than walking to the bus stop and I couldn't deal with the bus again so I made the decision to walk there. This, I think, was not a good decision. A fact to which the perfectly ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg May 4th 2014

After a quite frankly embarrassing amount of sleep (my defence is that I am on holiday so leave me alone), I decided to go for a wander. As I was due to meet the Vodkatrain group the next day I had decided to see something that I was less likely to do with them so took a walk along Nevskiy to either see a museum or the Peter and Paul's Fortress which was supposed to have lots of interesting exhibits about Russian history. This is a rather sore point for me as I feel like I have done a magnificent tour through a great country about which I know NOTHING so I tried to take every opportunity to be less completely useless as a human and go to museums or just read wikipedia pages.. So I ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg May 3rd 2014

So it's been nearly 4 weeks since I left England and now that I have some time to breathe after the trans-Siberian trip I thought I'd take the opportunity to write down some of the stuff that I've done, mainly for my benefit but also so that people at home who are interested can get up to date on what I've been doing for so long! However, I won't be so self-indulgent as to think this is of any more than a marginal interest to anyone other than myself so I'm going to treat this as a travel journal which you are more than welcome to read - I've realised that although I chose a rather charming journally-book to bring with me to allow me to write a literary masterpiece, I actually much prefer typing so ... read more

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