The Boat Trip

When I manage to give this rather ramshackle, ten-week holiday of mine a name, I tend to think of it as the Boat Trip. I’m travelling around some of the mainland countries of Southeast Asia without intending to cross the sea to those island-bedecked nations such as Indonesia or Malaysia, yet I still don’t seem…

Flight UK23616: A Brexit Fable

Flight UK 23616 is cruising several thousand feet above a stormy ocean. It’s dark outside, and no one can really tell what’s going on in the world below.  The plane has four hundred passengers, fifty of whom are in business class. The business class area, with its cocktail bar, fully reclining seats and dedicated crew,…

The Last Stop

So there I was: Berlin. The sixth and final country of my trip. Part of me just wanted to get home. Like Mole in The Wind and the Willows, I was close enough now to be able to smell my home, and Berlin seemed like a not-quite-London in comparison to all the other cities I’d been in, making…

A Raid on The Kiev-Berlin Train

I spent the first hour or so on the train from Kiev to Berlin marvelling at its conveniences. A light in the compartment to show whether the toilet was occupied! A sink (non-functioning, but still) hidden under the table! I had the compartment to myself at first. It was a tall, thin compartment, with three…

A Heatwave in Kiev

Moscow was warm, and the overnight train to Kiev was stifling. I shared my compartment with a family of three Russians: Mum, Dad and teenage son. We had a choice between leaving the window open all night and trying to sleep through the noisy clanking and screeching of the railway, or closing the window and…

Happy Moscow

The train to Moscow was pleasantly uneventful. The highlight of it was meeting our carriage mate, Larissa, a middle-aged lady from high up at the top of Siberia who force-fed us gooseberries and raspberries and marched me out into the corridor first thing the following morning for a glimpse of Vladimir. Chris was itching for…

Things We Didn’t See in Perm

You could, if you wanted to, divide travellers into planners and drifters. Some people rock up airily in a country and drift about wherever the wind takes them, leaving their experiences to chance: not me. I’m definitely a planner. Well, sometimes I drift, especially if I’ve been to the place before, but mostly I plan…

Tips for Travelling on the Trans-Siberian

Or any other long-distance train, for that matter. Bring a plastic/ metal mug and plenty of tea bags, instant coffee, or whatever floats your beverage boat. Hot water is free, and making tea will become an important activity. Cutlery is also useful. Bring lots of food and water. You can eat in the dining car…

Life on a Trans-Siberian Train

I’m often asked about what life is like on board a Trans-Siberian train. Well, actually, I’m rarely asked but I’m going to tell you anyway. A lot of people love the idea of attempting a Trans-Siberian trip, but are put off by the thought of spending so much time on a train. Trust me: you will…

Tourist Relay in Tomsk

Ah, Tomsk. If for some vanishingly unlikely reason I was forced into exile in Siberia, I would live in Tomsk*. It’s the Bath of Siberia I think – well, not really, not in any meaningful way. But it’s a small, comfy, laid-back university town with lovely distinctive architecture.  (Forgive the crap photos. At some point…

Knives and Forest Fires: The Rest of the Journey to Tomsk

When we woke up the next morning Victor was gone. After a while we were joined by a young mother and her two children, a ten year old girl and an extremely lively five year old boy who ended up entertaining himself by playing Slap The Englishman with Chris. They were good fun, though quite…

Terror on the Trans-Siberian

We returned to Irkutsk as happy travellers. Relaxed from our time on the beach at Lake Baikal, and beginning to feel that we were getting the hang of this Trans-Siberian thing. Naturally we were wrong. The world had lulled us into a false sense of security, and we were about to be flung into the…