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Edinburgh – Shanghai

Ilanskaya

Distance so far: 7622 km, -30 C (estimate), cloudy. Local time: GMT+8 Just a short update from Ilanskaya. I got off the train to have a look at the new locomotive whilst we took on more coal. The temperature has dropped considerably since yesterday. There was no thermometer on the platform (often there is a digital clock and thermometer) but a local wrote “-35” in dust on the side of the train. It’s so cold now that my camera shuts down in a couple of minutes if its out of my pocket. Stephan went to see our train commander to […]

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Novosibirsk

Distance so far: 6582 km, -25 C, pitch darkness, stars. Just a few night time updates.. I had to strip right off this afternoon as the temperature on board my carriage was about 30 C. I was impressed that my carriage attendant understood how I felt and said he could turn down the heat, but I have only just worked out how. He has opened the roof panel above the toilet at the end of the carriage, stuffed a blanket inside and jammed the door open with the giant pair of chop sticks (actually used to unblock the toilet)..Somehow this […]

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Omsk

Distance so far: 5962 km, -22 C, sunny This morning I woke at a place called Ishim. Our direction has obviously included a bit of South as well as East over the last 24 hours as it was light at 08.00 Moscow time today. Looking at the map we are in fact very close to the border with Kazakhstan. My daily routine starts with a trip to “Little Russia”, our restaurant carriage, for ham and eggs. This morning I spotted someone having sausage and scrambled eggs, so I took a photo and showed it to the lady who takes the […]

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Kirov

Distance so far: 4207km, -21 C, freezing fog. Morning! I woke at dawn today (that’s about 09.30 Moscow time) – just in time to try getting off the train for the first time at the stop in Kirov. The drill is that the carriage attendant gets kitted up, enters the outer compartment of the carriage (unheated) and opens the door. He then gets down, scrapes off the ice, sweeps away the snow, and wipes the handles so you can get off safely. All you need to do is agree how long the stop is for – but I’m not trusting […]

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Nizhiny Novgorod

Distance so far – 3962km, -19 C, clear and very dark. I finally set off on the Trans-Mongolian this evening after a busy final day in Moscow. One of my biggest nightmares was of course missing the train (it goes just once a week), and for a moment I nearly did. Alexie and I had a quick Georgian dinner (rather special veal and pork dumplings) and as a consequence we then spent and hour and a half in a typically huge traffic jam back to Yaroslavsky station. Anyway, it worked out okay thanks to Victor, our driver, who must have […]

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Firefox!

Today I visited Monino for a pre arranged trip to what was part of the Gagarin Air Force base, but it has actually recently been placed into non military hands. It’s about 40km to the North East of Moscow – it took me about an hour and a half to get out there by car. It’s actually hidden on the outskirts of a suburb, and there are few signs. I had high hopes for this trip, and they were met in every respect – it is a truly amazing place to visit if you have a passing interest in Cold […]

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Sputnik!

Moscow, GMT +4, -10 C (high), -19 C (low), sunny You might think from the above that its warmer today, but having spent a couple of hours out, I’m coming round to the view that the temperature is just a number and I can confirm without consulting a thermometer that its nippy enough to freeze solid any exposed bits. I spent the morning shopping at the Ismailovsky outdoor market, where they seem to sell all the tourist stuff you would ever need at reasonable prices. There is also an area here that sells Soviet militaria – plenty of interesting stuff […]

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Moscow

D405 “Vltava” Part 2 Brest – Moscow Distance so far: 3250 km, GMT +4, -17 C, sunny, clear skies. Morning! Last night turned out to be quite an interesting one. I’ve just woken up (3 hours earlier than I needed to – note to self – I must learn to change time zones before bed). It’s very cold, which is unusual for a Russian train. It turns out the boiler in this carriage is on the blink, so there is a mechanic here with a hammer and some spanners. I think he’s managed to fix it, but can’t help but […]

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Terespol

D 405 “Vltava” Part 1 Warsaw – Terespol Distance covered so far – 1900 km, GMT +1, -5 C, cloudy. Well that was quite interesting. The Amsterdam train was two hours late into Warsaw but they had held the Moscow train for our arrival. I didn’t see them switch any carriages but they might have done – Amsterdam to Minsk & Basel to Moscow carriages both travel this route. My carriage attendant, who was doing a first class job with little English, gave me a voucher – apparently PKP actually financially compensate passengers when they are this late. It’ll never […]

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Warsaw

Euro Night 447 “Jan Kiepura” Distance so far: 1692km, GMT +1, -5 C, snow showers. Last night I picked up the EN447 from Amsterdam. It does a weird route around Germany (including Dusseldorf, Cologne, Dortmund, Berlin and Frankfurt) before heading to Poland, and terminating in Warsaw. I appreciate that you don’t really “pick up” a train like a woman in a bar, but it makes it sound like I do this all the time, which of course I don’t.. Until last month there was actually a carriage that went all the way to Moscow, but this has now been cut […]

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