RUS­SIA BY RAIL

Trans-siberian Rail­way

DRIFT Travel magazine - - Inside This Issue - BY: AN­NIE HENNESSEY

At 102 years old, the mon­u­men­tal en­gi­neer­ing feat that is the Trans-siberian rail­way is a travel mar­vel not to be missed.

As the long­est rail­way line in the world, a lot of its ap­peal as a travel ex­pe­ri­ence lies in the sheer dis­tance cov­ered. And thus, the op­por­tu­nity to see so much of Rus­sia’s com­mand­ing and hy­brid land­scape in one go.

But to make the most of a Trans-siberian trip, one would be well-ad­vised to soak up as much as you can of Rus­sian cul­ture along the way; at­tend the ballet or the opera or try some Rus­sian street food at a lo­cal mar­ket.

The start­ing point of the Trans-siberian route is Rus­sia’s cap­i­tal, Moscow. It is most highly en­dorsed for sight­see­ing by Book­ing.com trav­el­ers and as you dash be­tween palaces and churches you’ll discover that al­most every cor­ner of the city boasts some form of his­toric in­trigue. First to visit would have to be Red Square and the Krem­lin. Then the city’s nu­mer­ous gal­leries and mu­se­ums, of­ten framed by re­gal gar­dens.

No­tably, the Tretyakov Gallery, con­tain­ing the great­est col­lec­tion of Rus­sian fine art in the world. Take a stroll along the Old Ar­bat, a street dat­ing back to at least the 15th cen­tury that has been home to sev­eral Rus­sian heavy­weights in­clud­ing poet and play­wright, Alexan­der Pushkin. If you can get hold of tick­ets, catch­ing a per­for­mance at the Bol­shoi Theatre makes an un­for­get­table evening.

First stop, Kirov. As is pop­u­lar amongst vis­i­tors and lo­cal alike, you’ll want to ex­plore on foot. The city is named af­ter Soviet leader, Sergey Kirov, but its story goes back to the 14th cen­tury. Visit the Vy­atka Mu­seum of Art, founded in 1910 by lo­cal artists and one of the old­est of its kind.

This at­trac­tive city of Kirov is best explored on foot.

Yaroslavl’s win­ning fea­ture may well be its stun­ning sky­line. Thanks to some gen­er­ous re­li­gious pa­trons, the city is filled with churches, cathe­drals and monas­ter­ies. All of which pos­sess won­der­fully gar­ish and bul­bous domes, drip­ping in gold and reach­ing up into the sky.

Yeka­ter­in­burg is per­haps most fa­mous as the place where the Rus­sian royal fam­ily, the Ro­manovs, met their tragic fate. But in their mem­ory, var­i­ous typ­i­cal Rus­sian churches have been con­structed, hence the town be­ing most highly-en­dorsed for ‘tem­ples’. While you’re in town, pot­ter around the busy Bazaar for a taste of a real Rus­sian mar­ket­place.

The Novosi­birsk Opera and Ballet Theatre is the largest theatre in Rus­sia, and mod­eled on an­cient Greece. It’s best viewed when lit up at night and blan­keted in snow, dom­i­nat­ing Lenin Square in the city cen­ter with its sturdy col­umns and pala­tial dome. But this pop­u­lous city has many more de­lights, be it nightlife, the res­tau­rant scene, or its many mon­u­ments, from the Novosi­birsk Rail Bridge the Byzan­tine-es­que Alexan­der Nevsky Cathe­dral.

Of all the stops along the Tran­sSiberian route, Khabarovsk is per­haps the prettiest. Book­ing. com trav­el­ers en­dorsed it most for ‘parks’ but its whole river­side area on the banks of the Amur, filled with tsaris­tera ar­chi­tec­ture and dec­o­rated walk­ways, is the ma­jor at­trac­tion. With good weather comes live mu­sic, al fresco eater­ies, and warm evening walks but it’s equally ma­jes­tic when cov­ered with snow.

With sea mist rolling in from Vladi­vos­tok’s Golden Horn Bay and the city sky­line fo­cused on its two mighty bridges, this Pa­cific port city feels rem­i­nis­cent of San Fran­cisco or Istanbul. Though its most en­dorsed for ‘ex­cur­sions’, you could eas­ily oc­cupy your­self for days just wan­der­ing around un­der your own steam. Walk along the water­front on Kora­bel­naya Em­bank­ment to get the clos­est views of Rus­sia’s Pa­cific Fleet.

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