Russell Lee and Laura Lee Bolton

All went well. Guides were all excellent, we thoroughly enjoyed the many golden moments in Irkutsk and at each place we went. Each place we stopped had its own distinct culture and ways of enjoying life:

Our XingYuan hotel in Beijing was excellent--a short walk from the train station, with good breakfast. Front desk did not have our train tickets, so we assumed our driver to train station would have them. Next morning, he did not have them, but quickly found them at the bell stand, clearing our moment of anxiety, then we were on our way to our wonderfulTrans-Siberian trip! Below are a few highlights among thousands of lovely memories:

Ulan Baator: the wild free hard-working life of the nomads, pride in Chingis Khan--loved our night in the ger in Terelj National Park and the delightfully healthy food (warning to tourists: don't drink too much fermented mare's milk :)!

Ulan Ude: pride of the Buryat people, with cherished Buddhist temples that survived so much turmoil.

Irkutsk: with its very own cosmopolitan flavor and lovely walks by the river past churches that survived by pretending to be factories, while the people quietly sustained their own beliefs allowing history to unfold into a thriving resilience, with delightful architecture, food and culture.

Lake Baikal was extraordinary, with minerals found nowhere else, lovely woods and lakeside walks that paralleled the path of Jacob Chesky, the scientist who turned his exile here into a trek around the entire lake. The Lake Baikal museum was excellent, though very crowded. We were glad to be able to buy a good map there. Our guide helped us appreciate the history of the oldest wooden structures east of the Ural mountains in the Taltsy village. The "banya" or sauna was the hottest one we've experienced.

Our rail ride to Krasnoyarsk was graced with a full moon rising over the Siberian Pines and birch trees, then, during a long train stop, as we conversed with fellow travelers (divers returning from a deep dip in Lake Baikal), delightful fireworks at 11 pm celebrating a wedding! Krasnoyarsk had a cosmopolitan flavor all its own, with a delightful walking, shopping, dining mall totally unexpected, where we took a romantic evening stroll.

Novosibirsk had its own styles of architecture with a wonderful opera house. If we understood correctly, the Naval Academy had just graduated and there was a rock concert attended by at least 1000 people down by the river where we walked that evening then had a delicious dinner at a local "NewYork" Cafe" near the river. The many strollers reminded us that families are alike around the world, and youngsters of all nationalities share the same wonder and curiosity.

Yekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk) found us with Ifgeny (Eugene) an especially thoughtful guide with superb command of English. He shared the history and architecture so adroitly that we left with our minds full of past discoveries (even the bicycle!) lifelike sculptures, a river that ran the iron foundry, delicious local food in a restaurant frequented by towns people, and the experience of traversing the monument to the line between Asia and Europe--with its own special wedding chapel.The mix of pre- and post-revolution architecture was especially interesting, as was the apparent return of pride in and reward for personal accomplishment throughout Russia.

In Moscow, we enjoyed Tschaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty performed by the Bolshoi Ballet Company and did the free walking tour of the city center and Red Square on a day so hot that one young lady in our tour group fainted. Advice to tourists: if it's hot take bottled water with you and stay hydrated. This tour requires strength, but is well worth the 4-hours spent, with an excellent guide.

Warm thanks for making our passage across your beautiful country so lovely and informative!

Tours related to this review


Small Group Trans-Siberian

Moscow Kazan Ekaterinburg Irkutsk Ulan Bator
COMPLIMENTARY VISAS Ideal program for travelers who want to explore authentic Trans-Siberian. Travel in comfort on board your private train car, with professional dedicated tour director and expert service.
Rating: 4.95

Epic Trans-Siberian Expedition

Moscow Ekaterinburg Novosibirsk Irkutsk Vladivostok
COMPLIMENTARY VISAS All aboard! Explore Russia far and wide in 20 days with our new small group Trans-Siberian rail adventure from Moscow to Lake Baikal to Vladivostok. Get some extra comfort while traveling by a private car through the whole journey.
Rating: 4.94

From Saint Petersburg to Beijing

Saint Petersburg Moscow Kazan Ekaterinburg Irkutsk Ulan Bator Beijing

COMPLIMENTARY VISAS An extended journey from Russia to China starting in one of the most beautiful places on Earth - the Venice of the North, St. Petersburg.

Rating: 4.00

Private Trans-Siberian Tour

Moscow Kazan Ekaterinburg Irkutsk Ulan Bator

COMPLIMENTARY VISAS Start your adventure in Moscow, visit the melting pot of cultures, the city of Kazan and Ekaterinburg, set right on the border of Europe and Asia while passing through the mighty Ural Mountains. Then absorb the beauty of Lake Baikal and The Great Steppe, before reaching Ulan Bator.

Rating: 4.96

Tsar's Gold Trans-Siberian

16 days / Group rail tour
Moscow Kazan Irkutsk Ulan Bator Beijing
COMPLIMENTARY VISAS First private train to operate on Trans-Siberian route. Tsar's Gold provides all inclusive itinerary and top-notch quality.
Rating: 4.90

Epic Trans-Siberian

Moscow Ekaterinburg Novosibirsk Irkutsk Vladivostok

COMPLIMENTARY VISAS Explore Russia's vastness with the Epic Trans-Siberian Expedition - if you want to see all of Russia this program is built for you.

Rating: 4.82

Golden Eagle Arctic Explorer Journey

12 days / Group rail tour
Saint Petersburg Kirkenes Murmansk Petrozavodsk Vladimir Suzdal Moscow
COMPLIMENTARY VISAS Immerse yourself in a winter fairytale as you set off on a journey on board the luxurious Golden Eagle train to explore the Arctic and Northern Lights.
Rating: 4.88

Golden Eagle Journey

15 days / Group rail tour
Moscow Kazan Irkutsk Vladivostok
COMPLIMENTARY VISAS Embark on the ultimate Trans-Siberian journey surrounded by 5-star luxury and quality of the premium train, the Golden Eagle.
Rating: 5.00

Imperial Russia Classic

15 days / Group rail tour
Moscow Kazan Irkutsk Ulan Bator Beijing
COMPLIMENTARY VISAS A classic Trans-Siberian route through Russia, Mongolia & China aboard the Russian Railways private train - Imperial Russia.
Rating: 4.79

Naadam Festival

13 days / Group rail tour
Moscow Kazan Irkutsk Ulan Bator
COMPLIMENTARY VISAS From Moscow to Ulan Bator on board Luxury Golden Eagle Train to celebrate the biggest national holiday in Mongolia, the Naadam Festival.
Rating: 4.75
Far East

Realm of Amur Tiger

9 days / Private tour
COMPLIMENTARY VISAS Take your unique chance to see Siberian Tiger in its natural habitat with our custom made trip to Siberia
Rating: 4.44

Vladivostok Break

4 days / Extension
COMPLIMENTARY VISAS Meet the Easternmost city of Russia, often referred to as Russian San Francisco! Our Vladivostok tours offer you plenty of customization options
Rating: 4.31