Published: March 18th 2012March 18th 2012
In my first post I explained the reasons for this trip, now on to the route we've chosen! The main destination of the trip is Shanghai to see French Tom - but of course the journey is meant to be fun too. As such, John and I have agreed on this itinerary:
Manchester -> London -> Brussels -> Cologne -> Moscow -> St Petersburg -> Moscow -> Listvyanka -> Irkutsk -> Ulaanbaatar -> Beijing -> Tokyo -> Shanghai -> Dubai -> Manchester
John will be meeting me in London, and leaving from Shanghai via Switzerland rather than joining me in Dubai. That's really just an excuse for me to fly home Emirates and avoid Heathrow during the Olympics!
The planning has been split into 4 sections 1.) Getting to St Petersburg
This is our first step - getting to Russia and the first part of our organised tour. I've traveled extensively in Europe by train before so I'm used to booking the Eurostar and other EU trains. The new parts here are booking the train to Moscow and then the Moscow to St Petersburg internal train - the direct Germany to St Petersburg trains have annoyingly
Manchester -> London (Virgin trains, just Jamie)
London -> Cologne (Eurostar to Brussels connecting to German ICE to Cologne)
Cologne -> Moscow (Russian Railways sleeper, 2 night journey)
Moscow -> St Petersburg (Russian High speed)
The value of the website www.seat61.com can't be understated here! 2.) Trans-Siberian to Beijing
We've decided here to book using a travel agency rather than individually. The reasons for this are many:
• The agency ensure the train times line up which is easier said than done with stops along the way
• English speaking staff!
• Hotels and transportation arranged to fit in with the trains
• Interesting day trips included
Overall it seemed worth the extra cost, so we've booked with Russia Experience - the full details are here http://www.trans-siberian.co.uk/big-trans-sib-st-petersburg.html
Journeys (all Trans-Siberian trains):
St Petersburg -> Moscow
Moscow -> Listvyanka
Listvyanka -> Irkutsk
Irkutsk -> Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar -> Beijing
I've attached pictures of our full itinerary for this busy part of the trip! 3.) Beijing, Tokyo and Shanghai
For this part of the trip we'll
be met my French Tom who will have hopefully arrived on the overnight train from Shanghai! For this Asian part of the trip we're also being joined by Ben, Alex, Kelly and Ian of Hashed fame.
So far we've only planned the travel rather than accommodation or planned our trips, and we've decided we will have likely had just about enough of sleeping on trains so these journeys are by plane (I know, I know...)
Beijing -> Tokyo
Tokyo -> Beijing
As for the reason for Tokyo - why not!? It actually made sense looking at the geography - and it's somewhere I've always wanted to go. 4.) Jamie's Journey Home
After Shanghai John will be leaving to spend a week in Switzerland with some members of his family. I've decided to have a stop on the way home too, I'm flying Emirates as they fly to Manchester meaning I can avoid Heathrow during the olympics, so a stop in Dubai seemed natural. The fact I can use my Hilton points earned from working in Birmingham 3 days a week to get a free night in a 5* resort also helped sway me!
This will also give me chance to go up the Burj Kalifa, currently the tallest building in the world, something I missed last ime I was in Dubai. After spending 5 weeks slumming it on trains and youth hostels I've decided to treat myself to a Business class flight too - flat bed, chauffeur to and from the airport and all wine I can drink!
Shanghai -> Dubai
Dubai -> Manchester
Next steps: booking the tickets and Visas!