Blogs from Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia, Europe


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
First ski in Russia
Angara River.

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal August 5th 2019

Here are some good reasons to take the train, instead of flying: 1.They're fast. If you think France's TGV trains and the London-Paris Eurostar are the only high-speed rail routes in Europe, you are way behind the times. Europeans have been developing high-speed routes all over the continent for the past few decades. Depending on the route, high-speed trains in Europe travel 125 to 200 mph. Here's a list of the major high-speed networks in Europe. 2. They can even be faster than flying. While jets are still a lot faster than trains, and thus more time-efficient for trips longer than about 600 miles, there are many city-pairs where it's actually faster to take the train when you consider total travel time – i.e., getting to the airport early for heightened security checks; travel time to ... read more
Gare du Nord, Paris
Busy Shinjuku station
Toronto Union station

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

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

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal June 21st 2018

Ja, das habe ich mir sibirischer vorgestellt oder zumindest irgendwie anders… Aber als ich in Novosibirsk ankam, waren es morgens schon 28 Grad plus und es wurde noch wärmer. Mindestens einmal im Leben wollte ich gern in Novosibirsk sein, einer modernen Metropole mitten in Sibirien mit einem großen Opernhaus. Man ist hier sehr stolz in Sibirien zu leben. Viele junge Leute tragen „Iˋm Sibirian“ Shirts und überall in der Stadt wird für sibirisches Essen, sibirische Mode oder sibirische Künstler geworben. Ich hatte den Eindruck, dann man sich ganz bewußt etwas von Moskau distanziert – was die können, können wir auch – sich aber trotzdem sehr russisch fühlt. Und so feiert man jetzt hier am 24.6. auch ganz stolz den 125. Stadtgeburtstag und überhaupt keine Fussball-WM (die gibt es nur im Fernsehen und irgendwo weit weg in ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal April 14th 2018

You have heard stories of people flying or traveling to the wrong Paris, Texas instead of France. Or Oakland, CA instead of Auckland, NZ. How about Grenada in the Caribbean instead of Granada, Spain? Worse yet, Birmingham, AL instead of Birmingham, England? Another similar name is Dhaka, Bangladesh instead of Dakar, Senegal. Or Ghana instead of Guyana? Or two places I have been, San Jose, CA or San Jose, Costa Rica? Las Vegas, New Mexico instead of Las Vegas, NV? Or even my new hometown of Clovis, CA versus Clovis, NM? My monumental mistake occurred in 2014 while on the Trans Siberian Railway. I stopped in Ekaterinburg, the fateful home of the last Tsar, Nicholas II and his family. After a pleasant two night stay, I taxied to the train station to continue my journey to ... read more
My new Russian friends
Lake Baikal fish

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal August 22nd 2015

Ah, a whole other story! Jana, my wonderful guide....nothing like having an organised tour booked and finding you're the only it! First the ferry to the station, then onto the train. Number 9 I think. Lake Baikal is BIG, and deep, the deepest, oldest freshwater lake ever, surrounded by big mountains, 359 rivers run into it and only 1 out. It holds 20% of the worlds fresh water! No time for a photo but I did spot a couple of the famous and elusive Baikal Seals, unreal. And a couple of rare Siberian Red Ducks, on the red list, I reckon ready for dinner, rare! It's a bit hazy, they've had some big bushfires so it's only when we get close to the sharp end of the lake we can see the distant peaks of ... read more
Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal August 12th 2015

Les chapitres précédents sur Saint-Pétersbourg et Moscou donnent une certaine vision de la Russie : la vision européenne. Si la majorité de la population et le centre de gravité du pays restent fortement ancrés à l’Ouest, on ne peut réduire la Russie à sa partie occidentale. En effet, si l’on prend l’Oural comme limite de la frontière entre l’Europe et l’Asie, la Russie possède la majorité de son territoire en Asie. En outre, le plus grand pays du monde est frontalier avec une quinzaine d’autres Etats qui influencent le pays en termes de flux de traditions, de d’idées ou de populations. Que ce soit avec les Européens à l’Ouest, les Caucasiens dans le Sud-Ouest, les Centrasiatiques dans le Sud ou les Mongols et les Chinois dans le Sud-Est, le pays subit une forte influence de ses ... read more
Ca calme...
Taïga sibérienne
Olkhon sous la fumée des incendies

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal May 9th 2015

Since my first book was such a great success, and failed to get on Oprah's list, or any other list for that matter, I am trying something different. Though I actually had friends and others who wanted to PAY to buy the book "African Adventures, Addis to Capetown" through Amazon, I preferred to give them away. In fact, I still owe a book to my dear friend in Kuala Lumpur! So, to make it easier for you, and my wonderful reading audience out there. I am using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing for my next book, "Trans Siberian Railway Solo". So, I hope you are Kindle readers. Or you can just go back to the well over sixty emails that I sent from Russia, and piece together your own book. From Kindle: Congratulations, your book "Tran Siberian ... read more

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