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Magistrale Diaries: The Sacred Sea and then some

16 Aug

Around 3ish, we’re awoken by activity at the long station stop of Novaya Chara, most of it attributed to the gent who’s just joined our cabin here. If I stay up some more, there’s a slight chance I’ll get to see one of the most bizarre sights in all of Siberia – sand dunes. But I pass. Its a little past 7 when I awake for a second time, and there’s thick fog outside. With the sun unlikely to make an appearance anytime soon, it has all the makings of an overcast day, and I’m hoping to god it stays that way.

Taksimo is our first long halt for the day, and we gain another hour here, moving a timezone closer to Moscow. We also get an additional carriage at the rear, and an electric locomotive up front – the route west of here being under wires. The station building at Taksimo is contemporary in its design, and like a lot of the major ones we’ve seen along the way, fairly well equipped too. I take advantage of the 45-minute long halt here to withdraw some cash from the station ATM. Returning to our carriage, we make ourselves some tea, and head back out on to the platform to sip it al fresco, Indian Railway-style.P1010689

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Magistrale Diaries: Tynda, the BAM Capital

11 Aug

We bade farewell to Mike at Ulak, turning in well past midnight, and sleep was fitful at best. But there’s only a few hours remaining till Tynda is reached, so we decide to soak it all in. Our drawn curtains reveal the incredibly lush catchment area of the Lena River, and another glorious morning in the making…IMG_7395

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Magistrale Diaries: Stalin’s Dream

31 Jul

It did get chilly at night, and we’re thankful for that. I didn’t quite need the blanket that Michael, one of our cabin mates, handed me as a late gesture, but at least I slept comfortably. We have no idea how today will turn out, but regardless, a decent nights rest is assured.

Sleeping in is not an option though, as the morning light, punctuated by patches of low fog, is far too pretty to ignore…IMG_7093 Continue reading

Magistrale Diaries: The warmth of Komsomolsk

24 Jul

The clock advances to 06:27 and on cue, train 667 comes to a halt. On the wide main platform outside, dozens of people are waiting for family and friends to alight – its quite the reception party. Past the station building, passengers make their way through a sprawling plaza towards the parking area, to city buses and rickety old trams. We are the first arrival for the day, and Komsomolsk-na-Amure is slowly coming to life.P1010511 Continue reading

Magistrale Diaries: Khabarovsk, we meet again!

16 Jul

The last time we passed through this way was over 3 years ago. The Rossiya was running 90-minutes behind, and our brief stop in the city was chilly and all too foggy. It’s a much clearer day today; temperatures are hovering around the 30C (85F) mark, and this time around we find ourselves on the business end of Khabarovsk station…
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Unmistakably Utah

22 Jun

I still recall my first visit to LA, when, as a student, the cheapest ticket I could find was via Salt Lake City. My transit through there wasn’t particularly long, but a single glance outside was enough to make me want to return to Utah.

Return I did, several years later, to the southeastern corner of the state, only to realize that Utah was much too large and far too beautiful. Three years have passed since, and I’m in a different part of the state now, but its that very feeling creeping up on me yet again…P1000791

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The Crescent to the City of New Orleans

14 Jun

Any hopes of eating southern-style barbecue are quickly dashed at JFK itself. Presidential activity, the pilot informs us, as we finally join the endless queue for takeoff. I arrive at ATL so late that even the airport’s own restaurants have called it a night. Save for a lone Diner, downtown Atlanta doesn’t fare too much better, and to make matters worse, its several degrees cooler than NYC…

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