Would you fancy a ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway?
The longest railway line...in the world...
The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway line in the world, more than 5 thousand miles of rails, crossing Europe and Asia, running through beautiful landscapes and 8 time zones. From Moscow to Vladivostok in eight days, with the possibility to go further into Asia's heart thanks to the junction to the Trans-Mongolian and the Trans-Manchurian lines.
This railway line was built between 1891 and 1916 when the full and continuous railway route was completed, the opening anyway was in 1904, and the train had to cross Lake Baikal with a ice-breaking train ferry and then continue its run from the other side to Vladivostok. This railway line was a necessity, a quick(-ish) way to reach the two opposite sides of Russia and to connect all the towns in the middle, giving the possibility to people to move and to sell their products in a reasonable amount of time. Useless to say that a lot of people died in the process of construction because of the hard work and the Siberian winter weather, most of them were criminals and prisoners, sent to do penal labours. This is the less appealing part about this railway line.
Moscow Photo by Irina Grotkjaer on Unsplash
As said above, the train takes about a week of travel from Moscow to Vladivostok, crossing Europe and Asia and giving a view on beautiful and unique landscapes. The regular train that does this service makes 157 stops on its run. The most recommended stops are Kazan , Perm , Yekaterinburg , Irkutsk and Ulan Ude.
Photo by Sasha Yudaev on Unsplash
Kazan is the meeting point of Tatar and Russian culture, the typical Russian architecture is mixed with Muslim influences, cathedrals and Mosques. The citadel has been declared World Heritage Site and there's a weird cat statue in the city center.
Photo by Дарья Морозова on Unsplash
Perm is a city on the shores of the river Kama, the peculiarity of this place is that not far from there you can visit the Perm-36 site, a Gulag. I guess it's worth a visit to learn and don't forget.
Photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash
Yekaterinburg is the meeting point of Europe and Asia, there are a few interesting statues around like a Michael Jackson statue, and a Beatles monument. Imperial Russian styles meets Modernism creating a very enjoyable contrast.
Photo by Ekaterina Sazonova on Unsplash
Irkutsk, in Siberia is the best stop if you plan to see Lake Baikal, the deepest and biggest (by volume) lake in the world. As everything in Russia distances are big between a location and the other, and to see the lake and the beautiful and uniqueness of this place a few days of stay are necessary. The city has a beautiful architecture, with wooden houses typical of this region.
Ulan Ude is on the other side of Lake Baikal, here the Trans-Siberian Railway has the junction with the Trans-Mongolian. Buddhists temples and Orthodox churches mixes together in the city landscape, also there's the largest Vladimir Lenin's head ever built.
I guess that there's more and more to see...
Planning a Trans-Siberian trip...
Obviously is a kind of trip that needs to be planned carefully and in advance, to travel in Russia you need a Visa card and if you plan to do deviations from the main route to visit Mongolia or China other permissions are required. Same goes to tickets, there are different kinds of class and trains, that offers different kinds of comforts, but to get on planning details there are several websites and guides for creating an itinerary and choosing the most suitable way to travel on this route. This said, as far as I've read the third class ticket is other than the most cheap also the best way to live this kind of experience, travelling with the locals. This route is a very common way to move for the people living there, and attracts passengers of all kinds, also it's kinda safe even for women travelling alone, I wish I didn't have to specific this but sadly is still something to make in account when planning a trip.
Travelling by rail is definitely a slow way to move, we're used to take a flight and go almost everywhere in a short time, but still this way of travelling carries a subtle charm of adventure in my opinion. I may be biased about this, but I find it, as I already said in a previous post, a very fascinating way to move, seeing places, exploring and meeting local people, and the Trans-Siberian Railway it's such an irresistible attractive in my book.