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Edinburgh – Tokyo

Turning Japanese

The Yonago “manga train” courtesy of lowco2motives Apologies for not posting recently. I have been swithering a lot about my next trip, and today I have made the final decision. I need to update the “departure board” to read “Tokyo via Vladivostok”! If you have not read my recent blog posts, this winter I had hoped to travel through Central Asia, taking advantage of the route out of Russia and through Kasakhstan. I encountered several problems planning and researching this journey. Firstly that travel to the other Stans was looking like hard work by train – not impossible, but for […]

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A Bridge Too Far

ICE 3 – “The Most Civilised Train in Europe”? Image courtesy Wikipedia. Well, its official – the winter timetable is now out and Europe now has even fewer night time express trains. From my point of view the main loss is the brilliant “Jan Kiepura” (EN447) from Amsterdam. It seems that Holland is now literally “A Bridge Too Far” from Germany and Poland – so I will have to get a train to Oberhausen where my Warsaw train now originates from. Why Oberhausen I have no idea – its not even as far away as Cologne… It feels a bit […]

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Black Rain

“Black Rain” – Ridley Scott, Paramount Pictures (1989) I’m almost there with the planning phase of the trip now. Time to get prepared for some travel! I got my iPad out this week and loaded it up with films, and also selected the music for my iPhone (all the good stuff – a hand crafted selection of Pink Floyd, Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac). I have a 128GB iPad, so I can carry about 40 films with me, which I think is pretty impressive (until they make an even bigger one). I try to find connections to places I am […]

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The Columbus Club

So today is the day of days, as I’m finally on the move towards Tokyo. I am doing my best to adjust my mental state to being on the move, living in the moment and trying to stop worrying about things that I simply can’t control. It normally takes me a couple of days to get properly into this state as the problems of everyday home and work life recede in the distance behind me. So by the time I reach Warsaw (later this week) I hope to have my train mojo sorted out. I read a great blog from […]

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My Dam Day

If I’m honest with you I’m not a massive fan of Amsterdam, but I’m sure that you will already have your own view of the city, so I won’t put you off by saying this. It’s been a wet and miserable day and the climate doesn’t do much for those contemplating some sightseeing. That said, I doubt many visitors to Amsterdam see that much daylight anyway. The streets seem busy with damp and bemused tourists, tramps, pimps, brewers, baristas and drug dealers all going purposefully about their business. In passing there is a very high profile campaign at the moment warning visitors about the […]

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Silver Streak

I wish the title of this post referred to the amazing speed and effortless agility of the German ICE train. I really do, but it doesn’t. Instead it refers to that fun 1976 train caper film with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. Have you seen it? Specifically the bit about being chucked off your train and then trying to catch it up and overtake it. More of this later. I’m actually really pleased to have been hit by a minor train based crisis today. I needed something to rebase my reactions to a relatively minor travel problem in the grand […]

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The Joy of Sleeper Trains

Getting some real sleep on a night train might be likened to your first ever proper engagement in combat – you need the experience to be able to function properly and make the best of things. But until you have this experience, settling down to a good night’s sleep can be rather challenging. The EN447 “Jan Kiepura” is a good train (note – seemingly now also being called the “Berlin – Warsaw Express”). It bashes through Germany in the middle of the night with the minimum of fuss and tooting. I have reviewed the journey on this blog before if […]

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Enigma

I have had a short but enjoyable stay in Warsaw as I prepare to hop on the train to Moscow. I have been staying at the Marriott, an enormous property just a stone’s throw from the central station. One reason that I’m here is that I’m a big fan of the 80’s TV black comedy “A Very Peculiar Practice”. The last ever (feature length) episode “A Very Polish Practice” was partly filmed in the hotel. I’m big fan of Dr Bob Buzzard, played by David Troughton – who, in case you had not realised, is the son of the late […]

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Fifty-Fifty to Minsk

I’m on the D10 now. It leaves Warsaw at 16.08, arriving into Moscow Belorussky station at 12.15 the following day. I’m having some immediate communication problems with my new guard. It hasn’t been an been an ideal introduction to base our relationship on. First of all he seemed not to know where my compartment was – there are only 12 in the carriage, but I had to wonder if I was going to be sleeping in the toilet for a moment. It’s probably as my ticket is a Russian one, and it makes no sense to me either. Once I […]

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Moonraker

After my first good night of rest on a train for this trip I arrived into Moscow at lunchtime today. Much to my disappointment it’s still quite warm here – just below freezing, but no snow lying in the city. It’s due to freeze good and proper on Friday, but it is just damp with a wintery wind today. I met up with Alexey (my resident interpretor, guide and fixer in Moscow) in the afternoon and we did some cosmonaut stuff. He reminds me that a couple of years ago we went out to a nearby airforce base in December […]

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