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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Riding the Golden Eagle

This was our Siberian summer.  Mr. Wonderful and I covered 3941 miles (6343 km) by train from Moscow to Ulaan Baatar.  We were on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express ... a bit like a cruise on wheels, though in tighter quarters.
Our group met up in the VIP lounge of the Kazan' train station in Moscow and then followed our white-gloved cabin crew to the red carpets leading to our quarters while a brass band played just for us.   If there had been snow and if I'd been elegantly dressed, it would have been like the beginning scenes of the film Dr. Zhivago.
The accommodations were tight but comfortable.  Each cabin had a sofa that became a bunk bed at night and its own bathroom with shower.  The attendants were always prepared to bring a cup of tea or coffee and they couldn't have been nicer.

We pulled out of Moscow behind an old steam engine -- part of the show -- then switched to a modern diesel engine.
Given the length of our journey, we had time to read, gaze out the window at endless birch forests, talk with our traveling companions in the bar car, and explore the many cities along the train tracks.  We could not have done this trip by car, since the trains go where roads don't yet exist.  And if we'd flown, we would have missed seeing and experiencing the land.
Almost every train station (Вокзал pronounced vokzal) was modern with a neoclassical architectural skin. Here are photos from Kazan' (in Tatarstan), Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.

Naturally, there are open air train museums to visit, like the one we saw in Novosibirsk.

There are also helpful posters along the way ...
Danger! No walking on the tracks!
Locomotive stopping
An Icon sticker at the entrance to our car ... for safety.
Now for meal and some rest ...

as the train chugs into the unknown ....
and I contemplate writing up more blog posts and selecting the best of 1400 photos!

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