Meeting Kevin And Alla

Previous page: Early planning for our Russian adventure


We're going to Russia independently

It's 21st March. Kevin and his Russian wife, Alla have visited. After listening to them talking we have decided we are going to do the Trans Siberian trip independently - no tour groups for us!

Kevin and Alla often travel on the Trans Siberian although not the full length of it. Alla's parents live in Ekaterinburg which is on the route of the Trans Siberian and they often fly in to Moscow and then head by train to Ekaterinburg to catch up with Alla's family.

Kevin and Alla feel that if we have an adventurous spirit we can do the trip relying on our own resources. They felt we would be best served if we had someone to meet us at the various stops on our way and for that person to assist us in getting to our hotel rooms at each stop over. Alla felt she could organise for someone to meet us at some of the locations which was a very kind offer we may have to take her up on.

They told us about the trains they had travelled on and they brought with them a copy of a DVD showing some footage of themselves and their family on their last Russian trip. It was wonderful for us to see a fragment of real Russian life. We saw the interior of the carriages, saw Kevin getting water from the carriage samovar (the urn which has hot water for travellers' usage), we had a viewing of the carriage "wash room" and saw SNOW. Kevin left us with the DVD. We have already watched it several times over.

The funicular in Vladivostok We want to ride on the funicular in Vladivostok

We have now realized that we won't be able to go across the whole of Russia and also take in Mongolia in the amount of time we have available. So sadly we are going to give Mongolia a miss. We will simply travel from Vladivostok (on the east coast) across to St Petersburg (on the west coast), stopping at various cities for a few days as we go. Even doing this we feel we will be pushing ourselves to see as much as we can in the 30 days allowable on our visa.


A cheaper and independent tour

We believe we can do the trip for thousands of dollars less than the tour costs (as you would of course expect) but we will need to be flexible with our plans. A Russian tourist visa is valid for 30 days so we will need to get from one end of the Trans Siberian to the other end within that time frame.

We think we would like to have 2 - 3 days in Vladivostok before we hop on the train so we hope to have that accommodation booked before we leave Australia.

We also will be less stressed if we have the first leg of our train journey (Vladivostok to maybe Ulan Ude or Irkutsk) booked before we leave too - if that is possible.


Hearing from Vince and Judy

A few weeks ago we heard about a trio from our area who were doing an independent trip on the Trans Siberian in a couple of months time. We tracked them down but to our disappointment (and their's no doubt) they have had to put their trip on hold. We thought we could learn a lot from these three people but now it might be the opposite way around. We'll do the trip first and then we can help them with information. Two of the trio are a husband and wife, Vince and Judy. They have kindly emailed us a heap of information which will be very useful.

One thing they sent us was quite surprising. It was details of a site where you can meet people who offer short term accommodation for free. It's all part of a network where a person offers accommodation at their home and then somewhere further down the track when they need accommodation themselves they are able to find someone willing to help them out. Nothing is paid for. It's all done in the spirit of caring and sharing your home and your town with other tourists. You offer whatever you can manage. - maybe a hot shower and a bed for a couple of nights, maybe a pick up from a railway or bus station, maybe a tour of your home town - it is whatever you are comfortable offering.

I've looked around the internet and found these sites: Couch Surfing, Global Free Loaders and The Hospitality Club . All look very interesting and definitely worth looking into. I am more than willing to have someone stay with us for a few days. Imagine how nice it would be to stay with a fellow traveller rather than in a cold hotel room. We would really learn such a lot from this type of arrangement. I think Ian is a bit hesitant about all of this. He is the cautious and sensible one. We need reassurance here. We'll have to look around the various sites and read the profiles of the people involved and then judge by other travellers comments about them. Even just having someone meet us at a railway station to take us home for a cuppa would be nice. I guess it doesn't have to be the full flung accommodation thing.


Next page - Couch surfing is for us


Our trip in the order it happened:

Travel Planning Necessities
World time zones, world weather, currency converter, language translator services.

Search over 25,000 hostels.

Trip Advisor Forum - Russia
The place to find information about Russia when you can't find it elsewhere.

Way To Russia
Another very good forum

Getting A Russian Visa
The process is explained

Trains between Moscow & Saint Petersburg
Explanation of the types of trains on that route.

Firmenny Trains
An explanation of what they are.

Moscow's Railway Stations
A map of their locations and proximities.

Learn How To Speak Russian
Free lessons.

Map of St. Petersburg
Lonely Planet's map of the city.

Map of Moscow
Lonely Planet's map of the city.

Moscow Times Newspaper
English version.

The Russia Club
A forum for all those interested in anything "Russian".

Russian Rail Timetable
It takes a bit of mastering but Ian managed it (eventually).

The Art Of Travel
Very interesting travel information for all locations.

Smart Traveller
Australian Government's site dealing with current travel advice.

Travel Independent
A site written by travellers for travellers. Lots of information.

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Alice Springs

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