Sandra and I had the great pleasure to manage a Travelrite International tour on the British owned Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express in August 2010. We departed from Vladivostok in far-eastern Russia and travelled almost 12,000km via Mongolia to Moscow on what must be the most exotic and comfortable train in the world, the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express.
Every day for fourteen days we travelled north and then west discovering what Siberia is all about: great areas of lonely plains intersected by grand fast flowing rivers, surprisingly elegant and impressive cities that we had previously heard little about, vast areas of efficient agriculture, mining ventures and many small towns and villages that have lost the battle to be viable.
For most of the trip the Golden Eagle travels by night and arrives in a new town or city each morning. After breakfast we met up with local guides and enjoyed a full day of local sightseeing. Sometimes we enjoyed lunch or dinner arranged by the locals or dined in good local restaurants. Often the locals had arranged folk or classical concerts in interesting locations – the local hall or an old historic home.
Cities such as Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Kazan were all a surprise. Although they lacked the wealth of European and Australian cities, they were all elegant, prosperous and inviting places with impressive town squares and gardens, fine buildings, atmospheric cafes and restaurants, good museums and public buildings and very welcoming people. Our trip around and across Lake Baikal, the largest fresh water lake in the world, was a highlight.
Our 13 carriage train carried just 62 passengers in great comfort. Over the two weeks we saw so much and had such a good time. The gold class cabins were spacious: each couple had a double bed, plus a fold down bunk, a sitting area and a bathroom with a full sized shower and toilet. The 24 hour service was great, meals in the impressive restaurant car were superb, with many local dished being offered, and the club car provided an ideal location for a relaxing drink or a chat with other tour members.
The trip ended in Moscow where our group stayed for a few days to see the sights. This grand capital becomes more impressive and enjoyable each time we visit, and makes you want to keep coming back. Travelrite International will be running another tour on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express in August 2011.