So after waiting just over ten months for this trip to start – longer than a pregnancy! – I have finally packed my rucksack. Twice. I’ll probably pack it again tomorrow morning, then probably again tomorrow night just to get it right. I’ve never really been on a full on ‘cold and snow’ holiday before. The clothes are so much bulkier.
Just to give you a bit of background info, my boyfriend Tom and I are off on the trip of a lifetime – we’re going from St Petersburg (Russia) to Beijing (China, obvs) on the Trans-Siberian railway! I bought it for Tom for his thirtieth birthday, well, it’s kind of a present for me too isn’t it but I thought it would be the most amazing trip to go on! Joanna Lumley did a documentary in 2015, she did the same journey but from Beijing to St Petersburg and it just looked incredible. Tom had mentioned a couple of times that he would love to go on a snow holiday and I just thought ‘AMAZING’ and took the plunge. There was a few problems on the way, having booked the trip in January 2016, I since changed jobs and had to tell my new boss I needed three weeks off at the end of the year, then had to secretly book the time off for Tom at work by speaking to his boss, then to have the travel company cancel the first lot of dates I’d booked and then have to re-book on different dates! I cried when that happened, stressin’ell. Anyway, it was all sorted – for the second time – and I was able to tell Tom the big secret on his birthday.
On the tenth of September, Tom opened a big gift box with giant ’30’ balloons sticking out of it to reveal a big feather and down coat. After modelling the feather and down coat, in his pants, he emptied the pockets to find nine postcards featuring a selection of stunning scenic photographs. He laid them out on the bed, smiled as he looked across all nine, then looked up at my grinning face with absolutely no idea what these postcards meant. I explained the trip we were going on and his face lit up! Thank god. Now, fast forward two months and we’re packed and ready to go. Well, I’m packed. Tom is out at the pub for his mates birthday so he’ll be frantically packing and panicking in the morning before we get the coach to Heathrow but that’s his problem.
To give you some more information about the trip, we’re going with a company called Vodkatrain. They’re a company who specialise in Trans-siberian trips for a variety of budgets and the whole trip is pre-planned which I know some people think is a cop-out, “it’s not proper traveling” well, it is. It’s still proper traveling you just have a lot of the hassle taken out of it for you and you go on your trip with other people – what’s not ‘proper traveling’ about that, hm? The trip is 21 days, we start in St Petersburg then go on to Moscow, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Ulaanbaatar, Terelj National Park – staying at a Ger Camp – and finally, Beijing. I can’t bloomin’ wait.
If you want information about getting visas for Russia, Mongolia and China, I would highly recommend Real Russia – they are full of information and super efficient and obtaining these visas can be a bit of a faff.