Sunday, January 29, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Before we dive into the Russia portion of our trip, I wanted to provide a little more detail on why we're taking a career break to travel and why we're doing it in this style (pretty much unplanned). I know some of you think we're crazy (and we are) so we want to justify our madness.
So with eagerness the agent called us forward and already knowing a RTW flight probably wouldn't work for us since we wanted to do so much land travel, we quickly shifted the conversation to booking this particular Trans-Mongolian ending just in time for Chinese New Years. He typed away on his screen and came back with a "sorry, I'm afraid its all booked up". No! Devastation!
Then a few days in Beijing to see us through Chinese New Year, hopefully catching up with my colleague and his wife.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Luckily we were able to edge our way in to the extreme cold. St Petes and Moscow were hanging around 19 F (-7 C) and Yekaterinburg was around 7 F (-14 C). The latter proving cold enough to where I got a little hesitant when it came to wondering around looking for food!
So, when we arrived at the train station in Ulaanbaatar at 6:30 in the morning, before the sun was up - wow! That was cold, -16 F (-27 C). A simple breath in and you instantly felt your nose hairs freeze. You almost felt scared for your lungs! The fabrics on our coats even changed from a gentle woosh-woosh sound when walking to a crinkly, crackly plastic crunchy sound! After a few minutes wandering around on the platform looking for our driver, cheeks tingling, the cold had already gone through our gloves! Later that morning when we jumped out of the van for a quick walk across the main city square, within 10 minutes Josh had nice ice-cycles developing on his beard!
We will post a bit more later about the details of what we got up to in these extreme temperatures, but this morning at the Ger Lodge, out in the countryside, it was -29 F (-34 C) with the sun just up! Needless to say, the night before when Josh tried to take some long exposure star trail photos, he only managed the one photo below before jumping back in the Ger before both him and the camera started to freeze over!
It's really been an amazing experience here in Mongolia, even if brief. We head off tomorrow morning bound for Beijing in the last leg of our Trans-Mongolian journey!
Friday, January 13, 2012
Today is our last day in Yekateringburg and really our last day in Russia. Just after midnight tonight we board the train for Mongolia but it takes 70+ straight hours on the train to get there. Yep, a little over 3 days with only a few 20 minute stops until we reach Ulaanbaatar. Hopefully we should be able to put together a nice collection of blogs while we're on the long train journey because we have some good photos and stories to share.
The days are flying by! On top of the short winter days, its light about 10am and dark again at about 5pm, we've been going at a strong pace. Yesterday was dog sledding in the Urals forest and today was ice fishing at Sharkash Lake, where Steph pulled off a pretty good trick (we'll let the suspense build...). And all of this after our last manic months in London and a busy Christmas home means we're actually really looking forward to some rest on the train.
The forecast for Mongolia is...well, COLD, about -18 Celsius or 0 Farenheit, with night time lows of -30 C / -24 F! Yikes!
So, with our bags packed and loaded down with some typical train food (pot noodles, sweets to share, vodka, etc) we're ready for the longest train journey we'll probably ever take, across stunning Siberia!
In the meantime here are a few photos because I've got to go. Steph just took her last shower for a few days and now its my turn...
(Photos below: Josh climbing a snow pile in front of Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, our first train dinner on the train from Moscow to Ekaterinburg and us standing on the Europe/Asia continental divide)
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Last night (Christmast Eve), we were in Red Square enjoying the sights and sounds when we heard choir singing from one of the smaller churches on the edge of the square. We decided to go in and found ourselves in the midst of an amazing candlelit Russian Orthodox Christmas service. We were on our tiptoes trying to see in to the really small center room where the service was being held (maybe 50 people max standing inside!) and a guy came by saying something in Russian pushing people out of the door and back in the entry hall. We thought we were being ushered out but then everyone just made a uniform space in the entry hall and we realized the Bishop and priests, in their fabulous gold and cream robes, were making a processional around the church halls - swinging incense and bells and carrying large candles. We felt so lucky to have caught this moment - it was amazing to see the Russian Orthodox celebration of Christmas.
In addition to catching this service, we also captured some fairly good photos. Merry Moscovian Christmas!
Thursday, January 5, 2012
So after the slight packing challenge we boarded our flight and set off. In an ironic twist, we changed in London which was odd arriving but not staying there!
Then we arrived in St Petersburg, Russia on the evening of 2 January. We were a little disappointed that there wasn't any snow but mother nature had a little surprise for us the next morning! Here is a picture to set the scene - we'll post more about what we got up to later...we have to go catch our 10pm overnight train to Moscow!
Welcome to Russia!