As I said in my previous post, I was invited to travel aboard of The Golden Luxury Trans-Siberian Train on a trip that runs like a steel ribbon across mysterious Russia connecting east and west from Moscow over the Urals, across the magnificent and endless steppe and alongside the shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake.
“Undoubtedly the world’s greatest railway journey” – they say.
Vladivostok – Russia
Vladivostok is a military port located on the western shores of the Sea of Japan and is home to the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet. After arriving I went straight to the Fabergé Exhibition – where I fell in love with amazing art pieces that you can see here and here – thanks to an exclusive invitation to see it beforehand. Then I saw the iconic suspension bridge over Golden Horn Bay, one of the largest of its kind worldwide, and followed up with a champagne reception and an amazing dinner of Red King Crab. Our real trip aboard the train started there.
Khabarovsk – Russia
Khabarovsk touched my heart and soul. We all know about the World War Two but seeing a city that has so many memorials about it show us how many people left this world because of it. The feeling of missing – as Portuguese people call saudade and nostalgia – is something very present in this city that is right next to China (only 25km away, crazy right?). But before we even arrived I had the pleasure to eat an amazing Russian breakfast – as you can see on my Instagram – with the most delicious caviar (krasnaya ikra and chernaya ikra as they said), shrimp (Russian Salad Olivie) and the typical Russian pancakes (olad’i).
Mongolia – Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar is surrounded, from all sides, by mountains. First, that gave me a strange feeling of being trapped, but then I understood how beautiful it can be. Did you know that Ulaanbaatar is the only capital on the planet where nomads live in the 21st century? Yes, amazing! We then drive out of the city to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of wild Mongolia, having the opportunity to visit a traditional Ger and meet a nomadic family or try our hand at horse-riding, an intrinsic part of Mongolian life. What an amazing experience!
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Ulan Ude – Buryat Republic
The ethnic and cultural diversity of Ulan Ude, the capital of the Buryat Republic, offers a unique insight into its heritage. On one street it is possible to meet Buddhist monks in orange robes! In addition, on the pass of the road, shamanic “idols” are suspiciously found, to which many colored cloth scraps are tied, trembling in the wind. This fact directly indicates that Ulan-Ude does not forget about its shamanic roots, and residents and visitors of the city do not miss the opportunity to stop at one of the shaman’s places to honor the Buryat god Burkhan.
Lake Baikal – Russia
A place that found a love corner in my heart. Baikal is the oldest lake in the world, its age is 25-35 million years, is the cleanest reservoir on our planet, and the only hydrological object on the planet that has a system of natural biological purification. Few natural sights can surpass the beauty and grandeur of Lake Baikal. They call it the “Pearl of Syberia” but for me, it’s a diamond. The place where the water touches the sky. Where nature is crystal clear, so bright that made my eyes cry. The guide told us that one of the modern riddles of Lake Baikal is strange glows and mirages, observed over the water surface of the lake. Most often they are observed in the areas of the island of Olkhon and Bolshoy Ushkany, as well as near the Cape of the Dead. But the cherry on top of the cake was the hiking option up Chersky Mount that gave me the chance to watch the most incredible sunset of my life: when the sun covered in gold the exquisite lake and the fascinating mountains.
Irkutsk – Russia
They call it the Paris of Siberia but that’s because they don’t know the real Paris – for sure. Besides that, it’s a very nice city. In Irkutsk, literally at every step, you can find monuments of antiquity, built 1,500 years ago: churches and temples, manors and mansions of famous Irkutsk merchants and Decembrists, residential and lucrative houses. In this city, you can visit the unique museum located on board the steamboat-icebreaker “Angara” – one of the oldest among such ships, preserved in the world. And, for those who find this type of things interesting, it can be considered (geographically) the center of Russia!