Day 9 and 10 and… I give up

I'm really sorry, but the realities of Siberian internet mean that I'm struggling to keep this blog up to date. The problem is that there is no internet available until we get to a large town. The Russians have decided, entirely unreasonably in my view, not to install mobile phone masts and coverage in areas …

Day 8 – Yekaterinburg

Overnight from Kazan we have to put our clocks forward by 2 hours so there were a few slightly glazed expressions this morning at 08:15 as we pulled into Yekaterinburg ready for our short visit to the city. The time change from London means that we're now 5 hours ahead but the impact of this …

Day 7 – Kazan

We're continuing to make good progress. After an overnight 12 hour run from Moscow we arrived in Kazan, the capital of the Tartar region. This remarkable city is a sort of model of religious tolerance - Muslims, Jews, Catholics & Russian Orthodox rub shoulders with each other in a relaxed atmosphere while preserving significant local …

DAYS 5 & 6 – MOSCOW & THE GOLDEN EAGLE

Hmmmm. Writing this blog is going to be more difficult from now on since the WiFi/Internet connectivity is intermittent. There's nothing wrong with the train WiFi its just that we are passing through large areas of land so remote that there is no phone signal for us to connect to. Teenagers may struggle with this …

All Jacked Up

It's beginning to get confusing about time zones. Belarus is supposed to be 1 hour ahead of Warsaw and 1 hour behind Moscow but nobody seems to have told the Belarussians about this so they're already on Moscow time. At least we think so. Anyway, some time around 8pm (or possibly 9pm) we arrived at …

Day 4 – Warsaw to Moscow

A guided tour of Warsaw in the morning before boarding the night sleeper train for Brest, Minsk, Smolensk and Moscow (the same route that was followed in 1941). Opposite our hotel stands the People's Palace, a generous fraternal gift from Stalin to the people of Warsaw (although they didn't have too much say in it …

Day 3 – Berlin to Warsaw

Suddenly... we've become Polish or, as they say here "Nagle ... zostaliśmy Polakami". I'm immensely fond of Polish people in general and they have been good friends to Britain in the past and still are today - however I do wish they'd sort their language out into something more like ours! Too many words sound …

Day 2 – Berlin Sightseeing

We started today with a visit to the longest remaining remnant of the Berlin Wall. It's been converted into a graffiti art gallery where artists from around the world have contributed various murals, of varying quality. Perhaps the most famous is this one recreating the famous embrace between Leonid Brezhnev and the head of the …

Day 1 – To Berlin

A long days travel today, but we made it and I'm writing this blog entry from the hotel in Berlin. Our day started with a glitch, when Eurostar cancelled our Brussels train and rebooked us On another one that left 40 minutes earlier. I asked Eurostar for the reason behind the cancellation and they blamed …

Rail Warrior Tech Tools

I'm sometimes asked about what tech stuff I carry with me on tour? What are the go-to must have items that I never leave home without The heart of it all is my trusty iPad Pro. When paired with the Smart Keyboard Folio it makes typing larger amounts of text viable and protects to some …

My ‘Other’ Job

People often ask about my 'other' job - the one that I do when I'm not being a Tour Manager i.e. mostly during the winter season. I'm a certified teacher of aviation english, at the moment working with some of the wonderful pilots at Air France. Many people wonder why pilots need to learn English, …

Only 9 Days To Go

Only 9 days to go until I set off on my Trans-Siberian adventure and I'm head down in preparation. I only have a small number of clients (It's a very expensive Tour and one that, at 19 days duration also requires a significant time commitment - it's not for everybody). Some of my clients are …

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today, the 27th of January, is Holocaust Memorial Day, and the date is chosen because it marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. Having visited Auschwitz many times, today has particular resonance for me. I feel very passionately that we need to remember and reflect and I worry …

1000 People of Dance

I came across this video by accident. It's a lot of fun.He's been off travelling the world and en-route has somehow persuaded random strangers to dance with him and then edited the whole thing together to make a continuous dance. It's a lovely idea (shades of Pharrell Williams being 'Happy' here) and just like Pharrel, …

Sent to Siberia

The Winter Tours have now been allocated and I've got lucky. I'm getting to put another tick on my bucket list... The Trans-Siberian express! The Tour starts in London, then rail to Berlin, onwards again to Warsaw and then into Moscow where we pick up the express to Vladivostok, a total of about 8,000 miles. …

Remembrance Sunday

I'll be taking Bailey out for a bit of a run so he can burn off some energy (and therefore hopefully be less likely to bark at the other dogs) and then both of us will walk down to the Village War Memorial to attend the 10:45 open-air service of remembrance. We do the same …

Why AMTRAK get a tough break

I came across this video which explains rather well the issues that affect AMTRAK trains in the USA, despite the unpromising title. My clients on USA Tours are often surprised by the slightly ramshackle state of the rolling stock and the smallness of some stations and passenger handling facilities. They also often wonder why there …

Shanghai at night

We finished off our tour with a cruise along the river at Shanghai watching the evening lights display of this remarkable city. 30 years ago this side of the river was an empty field. And here we have the headquarters of the HSBC bank, the bank of China and other buildings that are the legacy …

Maglev

The Maglev is the fastest train on the planet. It runs from Shanghai out to the airport at a speed of 430 km/h, so we thought we take a look, and see what it’s like. Because we are in adventurous bunch, we took the Metro to the maglev station. This has to be the only …

Counting to Ten in China

Tags @GreatRail #GrandTourOfChina Westerners may not realise it, but the Chinese routinely count from 1 to 10 on their fingers, but using only one hand instead of two. This leaves the other hand free for taking the money. Here’s how they do it as shown here by local guide Cathy. Count from 1 to 5 …