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Edinburgh – Shanghai

All change at Warsaw

The DB Bahn booking system – vital trainspotting intel! Some frustration here at “Toad Hall” today. It seems that the simplest part of my journey is proving the most troublesome to arrange. Although I have my ticket for the Trans Mongolian now ready to collect, its still not yet possible to issue a ticket from Amsterdam to Moscow. I can’t really see why, but those I have spoken to think its to do with the change over to winter timetables the week before I leave. I saw a video of the E447 arriving back Amsterdam on YouTube and its a […]

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Moscow time

My trusty Breitling “Aerospace” watch One of my greatest Trans-Siberian nightmares (at least of the realistically possible ones) is being left behind in the middle of nowhere with all my gear still on the train trundling towards Mongolia. Apparently it does happen, normally when people get off in search of food and get either cut off or distracted from the right platform. There are no hoots or whistles – it just departs. Having once had to run for a moving train (Inter Rail, Nice – Bologna, 1986), I’m not sure if I’m now in good enough shape to catch it […]

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First Class Deluxe!

Typical First Class layout I had some top news on Friday – my Trans Mongolian train ticket has been confirmed and I have (as planned and hoped for) sole use of a 1st class compartment, known as “SV”. This is the most comfy way to do the journey, but there is another big plus, hidden to anyone in 2nd or 3rd class. On train No. 4 (which is Chinese) the SV class is even better than normal first class, having private showers shared between every two 1st class compartments. If you were wondering why I am surprised to get what […]

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Cutting through red tape

It’s November, and that means its my “visa month”. That’s a 24 day window when I know I can’t travel anywhere special as my passport is shuffling between the consulates of several countries to complete my Trans Mongolian official paperwork “full house”! A couple of weekends ago I spent the best part of a day completing all the forms and getting the paperwork together. I need a visa for travel to Belarus (in transit), the Russian Federation, Mongolia, and China. All the usual questions, and quite a few less usual ones are in the forms – especially for Russia! I […]

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Concordski

Is it a plane or a spacecraft? (Image – Wikipedia) Still recovering from man flu, so some time to plan my trip to Moscow today. I have discovered that as well as “Star City”, it is also possible to visit the Central Air Force Museum, which is at the Gagarin Air Force Academy, 40 km outside of Moscow. From what I have read this place was totally off limits a few years ago, but you can now arrange a visit as long as you give 10 days notice, provide a copy of your passport and get “special permission”. I get […]

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Cheese!

My Leica D Lux – small, and perfect for photography on the go I woke this morning with a confirmed case of man flu (although I thought might be Congo fever at first!). It crossed my mind that I probably picked up the bug on the train last week, which in turn reminded me of “The Cassandra Crossing” (see my “Great Train Flicks” blog).¬†Anyway, I’m trying to do something semi productive today, even though I would rather be in bed, so I’m going to talk about my camera. I gave up lugging a big camera on my travels decades ago. […]

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Tooled up!

Trans-Siberian eating gear Back from a five hour train trip to London yesterday. Five hours seemed a fair while, so wondering how five days might feel, or two weeks? I don’t think its comparable as I didn’t have all my stuff, and lets face it, there is hardly much interaction with other passengers on the 13.00 East Coast service from Kings Cross! I thought you might like to see my small arsenal of eating irons. A minor Trans-Siberian packing point you might think, but not something I’m going to leave to chance. Left to right – Swiss Army ‘Climber” knife, […]

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Mr Raymond

I’m writing this blog on a moving train, so it’s a Toad first. I’m on the East Coast service from Edinburgh to London today, which will also be the start of my big trip as far as Newcastle as I am taking the boat from there to Amsterdam. So from the comfort of seat 31 in coach L, let me tell you about Mr Raymond.. I finally decided that I would get an agent to sort out my Beijing – Shanghai ticket, so I have got CTT based in Hong Kong on the case. The ticket has cost about ¬£40 […]

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Shanghai Surprise

Preparing for blast off in Beijing (photo from Sydney Morning Herald) I loved the train information on the Beijing Travel website “Attendants on Beijing-Shanghai high speed train are aged 19 to 22 years with height above 165cm. All of these pretty girls have high education background with ability to speak both Chinese and English.” This sounds like my sort of train! The G (high speed) train looks quite different to the Trans-Siberian. Its going to cover the 1318 kilometres from Beijing South to Shanghai Hongqiao in 4 hours 48 minutes, travelling of speeds of up to 350 kmh. After a […]

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The secret key

The magic key and cork – an unlikely combination? The only reason I discovered the existence of the “golden key” was when I started looking into how to open the window to my compartment if it got too hot. I understand that in the winter it can do owing to the Russian desire for a “toasty feel” to the carriage. Given I’m hoping not to share my first SV compartment with anyone, there should be no arguments and I’m hoping to secretly get some ventilation. Rumours are to be found in several travel blogs that the key to the windows, […]

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