Blogs from Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia, Europe

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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal March 2nd 2022

Most of you know that I love train travel. I have taken Amtrak's cross-country trains, as well as the Trans-Siberian Railway. I try to use public transportation whenever I can, particularly in Japan, Europe, and here in the U.S. Along the way, I have met some of the most interesting people. And what better way to really see the country you are visiting? Let's explore some lesser-known facts about train travel. You might be surprised to hear that the US has the largest railway network in the world, and by a large margin. With a total route length over 155,342 miles (250,000km), it's two-and-a-half times longer than the second-largest network in China. It's the US freight rail network that makes up 80% of the staggering length while passenger rail, run by Amtrak, is comprised of m ... read more
Union Station, Seattle
With the providnitsa on the TSR

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal October 6th 2021

Having just returned from a trip to Chicago, I have some thoughts on travel food. But I must tell you that Chicago itself is a great foodie city. I enjoyed several great meals, at Joe's Stone Crabs, Portillo's, Eataly, and a Wrigley dog. But when I am sitting on a plane or train, without any decent food options, I carry my own food. Aside from the usual, I bring food like mixed nuts, cup of noodles, energy bars, and a half sandwich from home. In fact, cup of noodles is the BEST food to take while on the Trans Siberian Railway (8 days if nonstop). I even discovered a new "instant" food, in the form of cup of mashed potatoes. And it was quite good! But I just found a newer, more versatile option, easy to ... read more
Add some tofu

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal July 2nd 2021

You probably want to hustle over to Japan, if not for the pandemic. Why? Not the Olympics. But for Cup of Noodles. We’re all familiar with Nissin’s classic url=https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cupnoodle.jp%2F&data=04%7C01%7C%7C7e54dd8ab06244a168b608d93c9b5df1%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637607460856706772%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=mSKLGMgin4QDJhz4l3eCm6Pz6CLTSgOsmzHFXRpQEIA%3D&reserved=0Cup Noodle brand for its plethora of affordable flavours that you can easily find at your local supermarket or convenience store. The original instant ramen is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with url=https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.timeout.com%2Ftokyo%2Fhotels%2Fkeio-plaza-hotel&data=04%7C01%7C%7C7e54dd8ab06244a168b6... read more
Interesting cup noodles
Dessert cup noodles

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal March 21st 2021

One of the more interesting and unusual places I have visited is Lake Baikal in Siberia. I stopped there for several days while taking the Trans-Siberian Railway from Vladivostok to Moscow back in 2014. I will spare you the facts, you can google, or refer to my emails from 2014. Recently, a hockey game was played on Baikal's famous clear ice. Small air bubbles can be seen beneath the surface of the ice, since it is so clear. And the Russians even drive over the ice in winter. Yet when they tried to traverse the lake with a branch of the Trans-Siberian, the very first train plunged into the lake! The lake is fed by warm, volcanic springs. A few things stand out from my visit. The lake contains plentiful fish, the most famous of which ... read more
Rather cold!
It snowed in May!

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal March 2nd 2021

After my little review of famous mountains, why not review some famous lakes? There is something magical about both. Lakes tend to evoke a more tranquil feeling, for the most part. The bluest of blues can be seen in many of the lakes I have visited. Lake Tahoe Close to home, and a year around destination, Lake Tahoe's water level seems to rise and fall with regularity. It is pretty any time of year. I have fond memories of taking the chairlift to the top of Heavenly Ski Resort, and looking over my shoulder at the most beautiful blue water, in contrast to the snow covered mountains. A recent article featured a man who helps recover bodies from lakes, from a depth of over 1500 feet! Crater Lake One of Oregon's famous landmarks, I found it ... read more
Crater Lake
Lake Baikal

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal June 5th 2020

Perhaps because of my love of travel, I also love maps. My favorite retail store in Seattle now is a place near Pike Market called Metsker's Maps on First Avenue. Not a trip goes by that I do not visit Pike, and Metsker's. Over the years, I must have touched every country in the world, in some fashion. I also enjoy looking at a real map, not google maps when I am headed to a new place. But this article I recently found, changes the way we look at maps. It is of course, based on military need, not the need to travel. And it comes from our friends in the former Soviet Union, of course. url=https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/10/maps-soviet-union-ussr-military-secret-mapping-spies/?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=SpecialEdition_Escape_20200604&rid=E6D8828E39F0D3AAD90928393CAA7CAEhttps://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/10/maps-soviet-union-ussr-m... read more
Soviet military maps
Different and interesting!

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal March 3rd 2020

Imagine my shock when an executive editor of Conde Nast Magazine says that she hates traveling solo. Trying to make sense of her comments, I realize that she has a family, obviously a female, and a seasoned traveler. Much of her anxiety seems to stem from making well intentioned plans, then backing out as the opportunity presents itself. She does her research, much like you or I might do. She would find the latest "hot" restaurant, must see museum, or hippest neighborhood. Was she dodging empowerment, or simply did not know how to be alone? She goes on to say that it is painful work. Most of you know that I take trips by myself. Probably the most formidable was the Trans Siberian Railway, across all of Russia (from Vladivostok to Moscow). ... read more
Veuve Clicquot in Reims
On the Serengeti with my camp mate

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal January 5th 2020

We hunkered down on the narrow, snow covered train platform, and turned our backs to the frozen blast that the train pushed ahead of it. The east bound freighter rolled past at full speed a meter away as we sat on our bags and held on to our child. Had we known the exact nature of the Baikalsk rail station, we would have booked our tickets to Krasnoyarsk from Irkutsk and taken the morning bus back to the city. The cashier that sold us our tickets in Irkutsk two weeks prior had assured us that we would simply be able to load our bags into the baggage wagon, and then take our seats. But as Andre (taxi driver and Baikalsk native) drove us to the voxal, and we ran our plans by him, he became ... read more
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First ski in Russia
Angara River.

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal September 11th 2018

A note to our readers: To see all of the images, scroll all the way down when you are finished reading and select pages 2 and 3. Enjoy! Maintaining a foreign language that you aquired abroad, while living in a mostly monolingual household, is not easy. Since we left Bishkek four years ago, we have tried hard to maintain the investment we made in our Russian language skills. We listen to Russian music, play with Cyrillic refrigerator magnets, wrestle our way through magazine articles, and strike up conversations with any willing party at work who we hear speaking the language. It is a bit taboo in the U.S. to speak a foreign tongue with a stranger simply because you think they might know what you are saying. After all, we are a multicultural nation and ... read more
Hello Russia
Across Border - Homeland
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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal July 28th 2018

We left Irkutsk at 10-30 on a lovely sunny day. We drove into the countryside, heading for the largest fresh water lake in the world. Lake Baikal contains 20%of the world's fresh water and I was very excited to be able to see it. We reached the shore in about 45 minutes and stopped to take a group photo overlooking the water. Our first main stop was at the liminolgical museum, one which concentrates on the lake and its history and ecology. It was very crowded, with tour groups, not only from our train, but from China as well. LArisa took us through the different stages in the formation of the lake and then the ecology, explaining why the water is so so pure and the different organisms essential in its ecology. As we went through ... read more
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