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Trans-Sibieria Train

Lake Baikal

Finally we reached our main destination - Lake Baikal.

First we visited the Baikal Museum for a guided tour and the history about the unique place. The baikal lake is very very old and holds the most fresh water of lakes, it is the deepest (about 1650m) and even further if your would consider the buildup morass (this could add up other 9000m, yep the lake is so old and has even is own bail seal. Also it hold s few of the rarest fish breads and not only a few can only be found in the lake. The water is so clean and so pure that you could use it to top up your car battery.

Anyway. Now the visit of the main Village Listwjanka. This looks like a sunny holiday resort and it really is. Small tourist markets, beaches, ice cream, bars, restaurants and hotels. We went also for a 3 hour boat cruise. What a water, you could really see downwards for meters. And the water itself was like silk, so smooth. This, I can say for sure, is best water I have seen so far!

Worth a visit and for a stay of at least 5 days. The one and a half we had was way to short to enjoy the lake fully.

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On our way to Baikal

Now, what’s like to be on the trans-sibirian train - the normal one, not the Zaren-Gold.

Well, it’s very, very standard and not well equipment. Simple 4 bed cabins. Sometimes clima does work, sometimes you cannot open the cabin windows for fresh air. And its cramped and so on. There are also the open coaches, not very pleasant. Would not recommend to use them but there her there ladies from Bolivia who crossed the open one on purpose. Not my cup of tea but hey.

Compared to the night trips from china which are similar looking, there are also no washing facilities apart from one basin for each toilet. If you are lucky there might be a shower available on one of the few lengthy stops - if you got the key and they would tell you.

On this first stint to Yekaterinburg we were together with Olga, Kati and here daughter Lisa. You can’t wish for a more lovely fellow passengers.

The second stint to Irkutsk we had a 4 bed cabin for us, the next two nights two from Russia joint us. On the second train were meet quite a few tourist from all over the world: As already stated - Boliva, South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Netherland, Switzerland, England, France......

As for the land scape, it wasn’t what I would have expected. Very greenish and treeish, more like somewhere is Europe, I expected far more swamps, green lands, a lot of brown lands, mountains or even hills, rivers, lakes etc. etc. At least the villages in between told you that you were somewhere else.

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Yekaterinburg

After Moscow we were on the trans-sibirian train and a major stop before the lake Baikal was Yekaterinburg.

The city is famous for steel, gold on and on and on. During the sorwjet times it wasn’t open for foreigners. But it is also known for Boris Jelzin and the shooting of the last Zar, the Romanovs.

We only had one day, but we had a down good and funny guide. Best you can wish for. First we had simple tour de city about the modern world of Yekaterinburg as it is a city made for the industry. As a result the city is a bit of mixed bag architectural wise. Bauhaus here, modern there and in-between old merchant houses and then social housing. Compared to the ones before this city feels a lot more open and grounded. Really likable!!

But of curse we went on the footsteps of the Romanovs, which means visiting the Church on the Red Blood build were they were shoot and then the place in the woods were they tried to get rid of the bodies - which is now the place of monastery.

For the rest of the day we went for a city stroll before we jumped back on the trans-sibirian train.

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Moscow

After a 3 and a half hour train we were in Moscow.

A large City, and it feels a bit like a swiss one as a lot is upper class. Off course we went to the „Roter Platz“ and the Kreml, but as everything is also on a large scale went on a hop-on guided bus tour for the rest of the day. For the second one we had a private city tour. We were lucky as our guide was very good and we could also skip the queue for the Kreml-Tour. The Kreml itself was rather surprisingly as it was really open for visitors and we could have good walk around, of course we couldn’t enter any of the main buildings apart from the cathedrals. I for sure was expecting a more strict access and a lot fenced off, but it wasn’t. We could also exit the Kreml via the main door towards the KGB - thanks to Putin this is now a public exit.

They were setting up a stage on the Roter Platz as tonight were the celebrations for the school graduates.

We also visit the grave of the unkwon soldier. Late afternoon we went for a small boot cruise in front of the Kreml.

In addition they were setting up small wooden shops etc for the weekend close to the Kreml and within the main shoppings street - and we’ve been told they do this for every weekend. Cool.

Late afternoon the year-end school graduates started with their celebrations. It was a bit strange for someone from the west. First every „school“ laid red roses on the grave of the unknown soldier, one ofter the other. Also the celebrations were fenced off , so we could only watch form the far.

Next a bit of night life and a stroll through the shopping streets with its restaurants, bars and pubs. At about eleven I went tot the Roter Platz to see whats going on. Total mayhem. Could music with a lot of base, a bit of a light show and the graduates were enter from the inside of the Kreml. Yes! And with a good look at the main gate you could the set were parting inside the Kreml. A least some large beachballs were flying around. Unbelievable! Af for the show end a major firework for about 25min.

So, thats Moscow now.

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St. Petersburg

We are on our journey back to Ulaanbaatar. First Stop ST. Petersburg

What an impressive city! It is not that old (about 300 years), but it looks nice and very similar to Vienna but everything is on a larger scale, very! Worth a visit, better a few to get around. Anyway. We stayed in the lovely hostel „Friends of Dom Knigi“ - it only has two-bed rooms, but the interior is rather lovely. Highly recommended.

As we only had about there days we’ve done few city walks and a boot tour, which I would recommend to at least get a feel of the size of St. Petersburg. We also visited the Hermitage. It is located right at the riverfront in the Winter-Palace. Very majestic. But we have to raise a complain - most of the descriptions are Russian only, thats not up to date for such an museum.

All in all an very European city with good street life. A must-visit.


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