by Nina Sabin - Travel Blog
For those of you who have been following our adventures. I bet you have been wondering where we have been. Well, it has been an interesting seven months. It started with our daughter graduating, getting her first real job and then moving. In the meantime, we found our dream retirement home and location and moved too. So we have been busy unpacking boxes and settling into our second phase in life, as people who are retired call it. Another name for our new lifestyle of not working a traditional job in our field of expertise is the “new norm.” I have to admit though there is so many activities, new opportunities to explore, traveling and things to do with the house that I don’t know how we ever worked outside the home.
Finally, I have time to continue sharing with our amazing readers and subscribers our incredible adventures we experienced while living overseas in Saudi Arabia.
We left off with our sixth repat to Russia, Mongolia, and China. In the last blog we only shared about our adventures in St. Petersburg, Russia. This blog will continue that journey. At that point after six years in Saudi Arabia we had been to 31 countries. If this is your first time joining us on our journey, please go back and read our previous blogs to understand our story and how we were able to travel to see the world. 100 countries in 16 years.
Now for the continuation of our Trans-Siberian experience. Starting with Moscow and continuing on the railway through Mongolia and China.
Russia is very different from any of the other countries we have been to, especially when dealing with the public transportation. When we arrived in Moscow we were a group of six. John, myself, our two girls, and John’s parents. For some reason, unbeknownst to us, they only had one door that the hundreds of people could enter the metro building. I don’t know how the six of us stayed together with six bags of luggage. Once inside we found a spot to stand, while John was able to get tickets for all of us. The fun was just beginning.
The only signs you could find are in Cyrillic. It took us time to match the symbols to the places we needed to go. The actual sign for each station you could only view when you are on the train. The name of the station was not at the stop but before the stop. So as you are looking out the window and driving by, you need to match the symbols fast to see if it your stop. It was challenging, but I think we only missed one stop and had to back track.
It is so cool to see places we have seen in movies or heard on the news in person. I have always heard about the Kremlin. The Kremlin was an amazing place to see and standing on the Red Square with its cobble stones and seeing the St. Basils Cupolas was unbelievable. It is hard to believe so much history had happened right there at the Red Square. We actually had to wait in line to see the mausoleum of Vladimr Lenin’s remains.
There is so much to see in Moscow it would take several blogs, however, I just want to share the highlights and get to the most memorable part of our trip. Riding on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Mongolia.
After three days exploring Moscow, we were off for a real adventure. Riding the train for 76 hours – three and a half days. As with any trip, you have stories to tell, that when going through it was frustrating, but afterwards you can laugh about it.
The first obstacle we came across was that the bathrooms close 30 minutes before each stop and 30 minutes after. The train stopped often. So getting to use the bathroom was a challenge. They actual had a person designated to keep people from using the bathroom during that time. My daughters nicknamed her the bathroom Natzi.
I don’t know if you like those Raman noodle soups? My children loved them, but after 76 hours of only eating Raman noodle soups; they didn’t want to have them again. It took them two years after our trip to start eating the soups again.
On the train we each had a cabin. It slept four which worked out well for our family. My in-laws shared with strangers. But that is the fun of traveling meeting people from all over the world.
Since it was the summer and our car didn’t have air-conditioning it was pretty hot. Many of the passengers would stand by the windows. On particular passenger we won’t forget was a man wearing a Speedo and had googles on. He reminded us of Snoopy when he dressed up as the Ace Flyer chasing Red Barron.
The views were spectacular as we drove along the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is known as world's most famous long-distance rail journey; from the heart of Russia to the Far East. We traveled through eight time zones and a third of the globe!
Our ride ended in Irkutsk where we switched train lines to the Trans-Mongolian Railway. We spent a few days in Irkustk to get a break from the train and noodle soups. Irkutsk is as one of the largest economical, industrial and cultural centers of Eastern Siberia. The citizens of the city believe that Irkutsk means for Siberia.
Back on the train but only for a day as we visit our last stop in Russia. The city of Ulan Ude. The highlights in Ulan Ude are a huge head of Lenin on the central square, Soviet style hotel buildings, some remains of the typical 19th century architecture, museums and traditional wooden houses along the streets. Most people like to include this quaint city as part of their Trans-Siberian Tour.
In our next blog we will continue with the Russia, Mongolia, and China repat. Starting with our adventures in Mongolia. If you have never stay in a Yurt – You’re in for a real treat.