What is it about former Soviet countries that sucks me in? I haven’t quite figured it out, but something about these somewhat stark areas makes me want to get up, book a ticket and try to deal with all the red tape involved in actually getting there.
I rediscovered this unique passion just the other day. Pat and I made our way to the Sydney Travel Expo so that we could whet our travel appetites and possibly gain some good travel ideas for future trips. Obviously, I like the thought of traveling to most places (*most* places), so any stall and any adventure and off-the-beaten path journey is fine… exciting… interesting. We casually chatted with the different people at the booths offering pamphlets on Antarctica, India, South America and Fiji. We picked up business cards, tour discount vouchers and even informational CDs — all eventually weighing down my free bag I was given on entry. It was all good and fun.
And then, I saw it.
In the distance, the sign — a bright orange — caught my eye, calling me to come closer.
It sputtered out the words VODKA and TRAIN, followed by the the soothing whisper of trans-siberian railway in a calming font to assure that what I was thinking it was, was in fact true.
Like a fly to a light, I was magnetically drawn. “Pat, we must go here. We must.”
I pushed my way between the people already at the table to look at their information while the two employees were busy chatting with prospective customers. Gazing at the photos of what was something already high on my worldly list of things to do made me jittery with anticipation.
Finally, someone to talk to.
Normally I let Pat lead the way in conversations since he is the talker in this relationship, but not here. This was my territory. Please, tell ME more about the Vodkatrain. Please, tell me how awesome it is and why we need to go here and do this. Overload me with excitement.
I learned about the Vodkatrain.
The Vodkatrain is a loose tour across the Trans-Siberian Railway meant for under 35’s (drinking vodka is optional of course). Why I call it a loose tour is because of the fact that beyond accommodation and train tickets, the rest of your time is free for you to decide what to do and how to do it… unless, of course, you want to take advantage of the knowledge and guidance from the local “honcho” at each stop.
So, with a Vodkatrain tour, you know where you’re going, know when you’re going, have access to a local guide, will partake in the adventure with other young and fun travelers, yet still have the freedom to choose your day-to-day activities.
Plus, the company (Sundowners Overland) gives you visa assistance, which is HUGE in this part of the world — trust me.
I learned about where the Vodkatrain takes you.
There are different tour length options, but you can bet there will be a combination of Russia, Mongolia and China in the main Trans-Siberian railway adventure. If you’re looking at the Silk Road journey, then you will have Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China to wow your senses. Can I have them all, please?
I learned that Pat likes the idea of Vodkatrain as well.
This is a big one folks. I think Pat was just as excited about the prospect of Vodkatrain as I was, which is just monumental considering our general opposition on what constitutes a good travel adventure. With that in mind, I think Vodkatrain is going to be something you’ll be reading more about in the future on this blog.
After learning about Vodkatrain, I rediscovered my passion for vodka, travel and the former Soviet Union. It’s strange, yes, but I’m embracing it. What better day to do that then on Valentine’s Day? What are your passions?