Siberian Express Dreams

Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and China, late December, 2014. Part 7: I’ve had Siberian Express dreams for years, taking a train across the vast stretch of Siberia, leaving Moscow headed constantly on, day and night, to distant places in Asia. December 2014 was our opportunity to make dreams real. Like much of travel everywhere, people were the best part. People were the best part. Although each party had their own cabin and while plenty of time was spent sprawled out reading or listening to music, most people seemed to…

Siberian Express Dreams

Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and China, late December, 2014. Part 6: I’ve had Siberian Express dreams for years, taking a train across the vast stretch of Siberia, leaving Moscow headed constantly on, day and night, to distant places in Asia. December 2014 was our opportunity to make dreams real. With eight nights and seven days on board, we had to eat. Eating aboard the trains wasn’t our first concern. Dining cars are generally available (more on this later) but many of the passengers, especially the Russians and younger Europeans…

Siberian Express Dreams

Siberia, Russia and beyond, late December, 2014. Part 5: I’ve had Siberian Express dreams for years, taking a train across the vast stretch of Siberia, leaving Moscow headed constantly on, day and night, to distant places in Asia. December 2014 was our opportunity to make dreams real. We were on board for many things, but principally we were there for the ride. We were there for the ride. Our travel across Russia and Mongolia to Beijing, China took 10 days, departing on the night of December 20th and…

Siberian Express Dreams

Siberia, Russia, late December, 2014. Part 4: I’ve had Siberian Express dreams for years, taking a train across the vast stretch of Siberia, leaving Moscow headed constantly on, day and night, to distant places in Asia. December 2014 was our opportunity to make dreams real. I didn’t know how much we would depend on our provinistas. Before we could board the train in Moscow, we stood in line as the “provinista”, usually a woman on the Russian and Mongolian trains, men on the Chinese one, collected and verified…

Siberian Express Dreams

Russia, east of the Urals onward, December, 2014. Part 3: I’ve had Siberian Express dreams for years, taking a train across the vast stretch of Siberia, leaving Moscow headed constantly on, day and night, to distant places in Asia. December 2014 was our opportunity to make dreams real . . . but what would Siberian Express dreams life aboard be like? There are frequently three different classes of cars on the train. There’s little difference between the first and second class cabins except there are two beds in…

Siberian Dreams

Out of Moscow, Russia, December 21, 2014. Part 2: I’ve had Siberian Express dreams for years, taking a train across the vast stretch of Siberia, leaving Moscow headed constantly on, day and night, to distant places in Asia. December 2014 was our opportunity to make dreams real. But there is no Siberian Express or there are several–none of which are the antique train show above which I saw parked next to a depot. There really isn’t a Siberian Express, or there are several, depending on how you look…

14 Hours in Irkutsk

14 hours in Irkutsk, Siberia, in the winter. What to do?  Plenty—if you have the good luck to find two very kind and generous people. When I mentioned I was taking trains across Siberia in December my friend Tom said, “Oh, you have to stop in Irkutsk and meet my friend Lucy!” So, here we are in Irkutsk, right on schedule getting off the train exactly at 7:28 on a cold and very dark Siberian morning. As we walked up the stairs from the underground passage connecting the…

Christmas, travel, Christmas travel, Vienna, Mexico

December 24, 2014 Author’s note: I revised this slightly from last year after reading it on Christmas Eve, 2014, thinking of Christmases past, and present, while waiting for a train in Irkutsk, Russia to Ulan Bator, soon to be plunging forward into the darkness of a Siberian night aboard an east-bound train rolling towards Mongolia. “It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is…