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Day 45: Vodkatrain – A Passion for Vodka, Travel & the Former Soviet Union

Day 45: Happy Valentine's Day!

Day 45: Happy Valentine's Day!

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.

vodka pitcher

That is a pitcher of vodka... not water.

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?


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25 Responses to Day 45: Vodkatrain – A Passion for Vodka, Travel & the Former Soviet Union

  1. Caroline Eubanks February 15, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    I went to Melbourne Travel Show and grabbed THE SAME BROCHURE. I saw their website prior and am DYING to do it, even though it’s crazy expensive and three days straight on a train might just kill me.

    • Brooke February 15, 2011 at 9:47 am #

      Ok, AWESOME. Yeah, it is a bit expensive, but ANY tour costs mucho… and for the amount of hassle they help take out of traveling through Russia — I’ll pay that extra money! 3 days on a train is long, but you’ll be with other people and have cheap vodka to keep you company 🙂

  2. Kristian Godfrey February 15, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    I’m doing the Trans siberian this summer; its been a life ambition of mine so I simply cannot wait. Go on and book it, you know you want to 🙂

    • Brooke February 15, 2011 at 9:47 am #

      I am so jealous! Yes, I want to!

  3. Sheryll February 15, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Definitely had me sold on vodka and train. Do it!!!!

    • Brooke February 15, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

      Yeah not a tough sell, hey?! 🙂

  4. Vodkatrain February 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Thanks so much for your great article on Vodkatrain – we are so pleased to hear that we managed to trigger some excitment even in such a self-controlled fellow as Pat! 🙂 Enjoy your travels and we will keep reading your articles. And, of course, see you on the Vodkatrain!

    • Brooke February 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

      Yes, we are still playing with the idea 🙂 Well, we are playing with lots of travel ideas, so it is really just figuring out where this one will fit in! 😀

  5. Christine February 16, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    How fun! Sounds like the perfect fit for you!

    • Brooke February 16, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

      I know! Plus it will give me an excuse to use my Russian 🙂

  6. Rebecca February 16, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    I’m like you: I. Have. To. Do. This. One. Day. Sounds like a great way to see these countries and one of the best things is the “loose” tour – I like the fact that you can get off in places that YOU want to see and go exploring, and not be stuck to routines. So when are you going??!

    • Brooke February 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

      Sounds awesome, hey? We are still debating when… would you want to join our group?!

      • Rebecca February 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

        That would be cool! Keep me posted 🙂

  7. Steffi February 17, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    Wow. This sounds like real fun. I definitely wanna do this some time too. Especially Mongolia always sounded intriguing to me.

    • Brooke February 18, 2011 at 7:37 am #

      Definitely awesome! You should check out my most recent post… I’m looking to build a group trip… you in?

      • Steffi February 18, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

        Sure, send me a note when you decide to go.

  8. Kelsey February 17, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    I share your love of formerly Soviet places, and thankfully, vodka is one of the only alcohols which I can consume in large quantities, due to my Russian heritage (otherwise, most alcohol makes me ill). I may have to pick your brain soon about working in Central Asia, as I think it might be what I want to specialize in for my photography career.

  9. Bethany February 17, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    hmmm. interesting. The Trans Siberian is my TOP travel daydream. I can’t wait to do it. The vodka train sounds awesome however it looks like I am at the top of their age limit. 🙁 I have an issue w/ places that restrict by age it makes me think 2 things: 1. I am old (I HATE that thought, which makes me like the company less by default) and 2. the highlight of the trip is getting drunk and hooking up or the like. Of course this sounds like fun regardless of age, which makes me wonder why they have to specify an age? Does this mean people over 35 are too lame to partake and 20 somethings don’t want to hang out with them or that people in their 20’s & early 30’s are too annoying to be around if you are over 35? I highly doubt both of those things. I don’t like the age limit thing, it pisses me off. Take that vodkatrain people!!

    • Brooke February 17, 2011 at 11:25 am #

      I don’t know if it is a strict thing… more of a mindset. They offer other tours that are catered to people that want someone to hold their hand. This is more of an independent mindset, which I think you would fit in 😀 So, by saying that, I think they are just warning people that more youngens will go on a tour like this (typically they are more adventurous ya know?) so consider yourself warned. Also, I went on another 18 – 35’s tour of Fraser Island and it was def not about hooking up and drinking and the like, and geez I can’t imagine someone doing the trans-siberian with that mindset really 😉

      • Bethany February 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

        I’m sure you’re right. 🙂

  10. Kate February 18, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    I’m in St Petersburg at the moment… and I need to get my tran sib tickets booked! I’m doing it independantly which sounded a great idea back home, but I’m wondering now if it might have been better hooking up with a company like Vodkatrain.

    Oh well. Twill be a Experience *grin*

    • Brooke February 18, 2011 at 7:37 am #

      I’m so jealous! You will have to let me know how you did it, how much you spent, etc. Yes? 🙂

  11. Kelsey February 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    One of these days I need to pick your brain about working in Central Asia. I’m considering making it my “niche” within photojournalism, and you’re one of the few people I know who have spent considerable time there.


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    […] all know that the amazing Vodkatrain made me beyond excited, as read in my post, and it turns out it made a few of you excited as well. Go you! You obviously […]

  2. Tours for Under 35's -- Party Tours? - February 23, 2011

    […] the issue of an age-grouped tour came up when I was ranting and raving about the idea of Vodkatrain, and I can totally understand both the issue of restricting, as well as the need by the company to […]

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