All aboard... the Trans-Siberian Express
Cox & Kings’ Cecilia Ban recently took the journey of a lifetime aboard the Golden Eagle on the famed Trans-Siberian railway.
Our arrival in Moscow, after the westbound journey through Siberia from Vladivostok, was a moment I'll never forget. I felt incredibly lucky to have been on this fantastic journey and to have been in the company of such interesting people. Jack, the lawyer from Texas was an excellent conversation partner; Keith, the priest from Canada, was the first to jump into the cold water of Lake Baikal; Alexandra Tolstoy, the granddaughter of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy was planning to make a documentary about the train; and of course Michele Veinart, a wine connoiseur from Louis Latour wines in Burgundy who gave lectures on the train about wine.
The scenery and landscape had been changing in the days running up to our arrival in Moscow. Before, we would have travelled for several hours and only spotted the odd person or building, now the pine trees and towns were becoming more and more frequent.
One benefit of travelling through 7 different time zones is that some mornings you get 1 or 2 hours extra sleep, which certainly gives you the additional energy to explore the hidden treasures of Russia and Mongolia in greater depth. During the trip we got the chance to have lunch at a Ger camp in Mongolia, see fresh water seals at Lake Baikal and visit the Orthodox Church where the Romanovs spent their last days in Yekaterinburg. We had an exclusive tour of Russia’s ‘Silicon Valley’ in Novosibirsk, as well as seeing the spectacular mosque of Kazan, the capital of Tatarland in Russia. Local guides accompanied the groups, of about 15 people, on all of the excursions.
The Golden Eagle train is undoubtedly the best way to discover this part of the world. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, and I will never forget the moments when we were enjoying our haute-cuisine dinner and wine in the restaurant car, while the train was passing by such places as the shores of Lake Baikal with its amazing mirror-like surface - the largest, deepest and cleanest fresh water lake in the world. At meal times we normally had at least three different options to choose from and could ask for coffee and biscuits from our always-helpful cabin attendant at any time.
I was staying in a Gold Class cabin, which included an en-suite bathroom, air conditioning, under-floor heating and a flat-screen television (which I never switched on).
The two-week long itinerary gave me an excellent insight into Russia’s culture and past. The geographical distance was reflected in the changing landscape and I learnt a lot about the different types of fauna and flora living in this vast and relatively unknown land. For example, the taiga is a type of pine forest in Russia where brown bears and pheasants live. These forests contrast strongly with the broad, treeless grassy plains of Southern Russia and Mongolia. The trip proved to be an incredible journey, seeing sites inaccessible by car. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, which I feel really lucky to have experienced.
Cox & Kings offers the Trans-Siberian Express Rail Journey aboard the Golden Eagle luxury train, which can be taken in either direction.Share:
- Tags: Cox & Kings Staff, Culture & History, Europe, Far East, Landscape, Mongolia, Russia, Train Journeys