Real Russia Blog

Real Russia travels the Trans-Siberian

Real Russia travels the Trans-Siberian

The Trans-Siberian railway is the greatest rail journey in the world, and to celebrate this fact, along with its centenary, over the coming weeks Real Russia shall be exploring what the Trans-Siberian, along with the Trans-Mongolian railway, has to offer!

Over the coming months you will find mountains of new content, including new blogs, guides and FAQ’s, covering every aspect of Trans-Siberian travel. And that is without even mentioning the new photos and videos across the website, social media and YouTube.

‘Where will you be visiting?’, you ask. Well…

Real Russia’s Trans-Siberian itinerary

Day one – Moscow

The first excursion of this incredible trip is a tour of the historic Kolomeskoe park, home to many Tsars and GrandPrinces over the years, including Peter the Great himself; in fact, this particular excursion should take Real Russia to Peters former residence!

Following this fascinating start to the trip is a walking tour of Old Arbat, the old bohemian quarter of Moscow, home to artists and writers throughout the years, and a visit to the Moscow Metro, one of the deepest, and most beautiful, metro systems in the world.

Day two – Moscow

When in Moscow, it is essential that you take a walking tour of central Moscow, and so that is exactly what Real Russia will be doing, taking in some of Russia’s most famous, and historic, sights including the Kremlin, Red Square and the GUM shopping centre.

An action packed second day in Russia will continue with the home of over 170,000 pieces of Russian art, the world famous State Tretyakov Gallery.

After such a busy day of sightseeing, there is only one thing to do, relax on a cruise on a leisurely cruise down the Moskva River, passing beautiful scenery like Sparrow Hills.

That evening Real Russia will board its first train at Kazansky railway station, heading east on the Trans-Siberian railway.

Day three – Kazan

Real Russia will barely scratch the surface during a full day exploring Kazan and the breath-taking surrounding area, taking in the Kazan Kremlin, the old town of Kazan, a traditional Tartar village, and the many houses of worship; including orthodox, Catholic and Islamic.

Day four – Yekaterinburg
After an afternoon arrival in Yekaterinburg, Real Russia will take a short journey out to the Eurasian border, for some great photo opportunities and have a foot on two continents at the same time!

Day five – Yekaterinbug
History is the theme for a fantastic day in Yekaterinburg, learning all about the Romanov dynasty and their last days by visiting the scene of their murder, as well as sights like the Saviour on the Blood Cathedral.

Day six – Novosibirsk
After a morning on the rails, a relaxing afternoon will be rounded off with a Pelmeni masterclass, as Real Russia learns how to cook this classic Russian dish.

Day seven – Novosibirsk
One of the busiest days of Real Russia’s tour begins with a visit to the Trans-Siberian railway museum, Akemagorodoc – the home of much of Novosibirsk educational and technological expertise, the old city of Novosibirsk and the home of Novosibirsk’s culture, its opera and ballet theatre!

The end of the day sees Real Russia preparing for a 32-hour train journey though the centre of Siberia to Irkutsk.

Day eight – on-board train 70
A full day relaxing on-board train 70; plenty of time to relax and let the incredible experiences of the previous few days’ sink in.

Day nine – Irkutsk, Listvyanka and Lake Baikal

Following an early arrival in Irkutsk, and a short tour of the city, Real Russia will travel onwards to Listvyanka on the shores of Lake Baikal via the Tsaltsy ethnographic open air museum.

Once in Listvyanka, a tour of the town will follow before visiting Chersky Rock viewpoint and enjoying a relaxing evening in a traditional Russian banya.

Day ten – Lake Baikal and Listvyanka

After a short cruise on the Lake Baikal itself, a peaceful day on-board a steam train on the Circum-Baikal railway, following the shoreline of Lake Baikal, will be the perfect way to soak up the beauty of the area.

Day eleven – Ulan-Ude
After the shortest rail journey of the trip (just six hours!) from Irkutsk to Ulan-Ude, there will be little time for much other than a traditional Buryat meal.

Day twelve – Ulan-Ude
There is plenty to see in Ulan-Ude, and Real Russia will be taking in some of the best of these sights by visiting the Buddhist Ivolginsky Datsan and the strictly orthodox Old Believers village, followed by an evening tour of the city of Ulan-Ude itself.

Day thirteen – on-board train 362
Another full day on the rails, watching the world go by as the border with Mongolia comes and goes.

Day fourteen – Ulan Bator

Following breakfast, and some free time to explore Ulan Bator, Real Russia will be transferred to Terelj National Park, where an afternoon stroll through the incredible surroundings will be followed by an overnight stay in a Ger under the stars.

Day fifteen – Ulan Bator
After more time to take in the surrounds of Terlj National Park, and a visit to a local nomadic family, Real Russia will head back to Ulan Bator, but not before taking a detour to the Genghis Kahn Monument.

Day sixteen – Ulan Bator

Another busy day as Real Russia visits some of the finest sights in Ulan Bator, from the Gandan Monastery to the National History Museum and everything in-between.

Day seventeen – on-board train 004
The last full day on the rails, across the huge Gobi Desert and into northern China, heading towards Beijing, will offer time to relax and prepare for one of the greatest cities in the world, Beijing.

Day eighteen – Beijing
The first day in Beijing is a short one, with Real Russia indulging in an early evening rickshaw ride through Beijing, before a local family host a traditional dinner of Chinese dumplings.

Day nineteen – Beijing

The city of Beijing will be Real Russia’s today, as an early start will allow time to visit all that Beijing has to offer, from the Forbidden City to Tianamen Square, before finishing the day at the Chaoyang Theatre watching the skills of China’s famed acrobats.

Day twenty – Beijing

Arguably the best has been left for last, as an early morning start takes Real Russia to one of the highlights of the tour, the Great Wall of China.

Day twenty-one – Home
And so the tour comes to an end as Real Russia heads home, full of memories, and ready to share the many experiences with the world.

Get involved
Follow Real Russia on our travels through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, with daily updates (internet connection allowing!) sharing the incredible Trans-Siberian railway. Not forgetting to like, comment and share of course!

If there is anything you particularly want to see, let us know and we shall see what we can do!

And don’t forget, over the next few months Real Russia shall be rolling out new content across, social media and YouTube; including new guides, expanded FAQ’s, images, excursions, interviews, blogs and videos. So keep your eyes peeled to everything Real Russia!

Real Russia Blog

Customer Tales: Trains, and banyas, and exploring! Oh my! (Part three)

Customer Tales: Trains, and banyas, and exploring! Oh my! (Part three)

Arriving in Beijing

The end of this epic journey approaches, as Helen and Charles near the end of their Trans-Siberian adventure.

Having started in Moscow in part one, travelled to Irkutsk and Baikal in part two, they now find themselves heading onwards to Beijing, before exploring one of the most incredible cities in the world.

Travelling on train 20

It was good to be active in Irkutsk ahead of our next 3 days on the train again. A chance to catch our breath and reminisce and relax and mingle. It transpired we were the only people in the whole carriage, which not as plush looking as our first train, functioned much better, the beds were more comfortable and were cleaned daily. A Chinese family boarded later on who were really nice neighbours.

The dining car not as nice as the first one, but we had stocked up in Irkutsk and actually did not get that hungry as we were stationery most of the time. We followed the stations along the way and liked anticipating where we would be stopping next and for how long. Very few vendors on the stations, but the few which did have, we shopped at, mostly ice cream and airtime! I was intrigued by the female voice making the announcements at ALL the stations en route and the number of female railway workers in overalls or uniforms. In our country it is strictly male dominated. This train was a steam train we realized, which was interesting in itself, and much smoother than the first train. The female Russian conductors were efficient and quite friendly, which made a change for our first train which was manned by Chinese men, rather gruff and not terribly friendly. We did get the odd smile out of one of them!

The second train (Vostok) quite different to the first, as I may already have mentioned. Definitely cleaner and more comfortable. I considered what it would have been like had we booked on the Golden Eagle (which I think is your top train and very expensive). And I realized we would not necessarily have enjoyed it more. The basis of the train trip was that we would have passed the same scenery, stopped at the same stations, and not had much to do on the train other than what one had brought with one and mingling with other travellers. I felt sure it would not have been as easy striking up friendships on the Golden Eagle. Our neighbours were down to earth types and easy to chat to. The awe of knowing one is crossing 7 time lines and the famous Russian/Siberian countryside was constantly in my mind. It was meaningful to me.

I do think the first train (Chinese train 4) should have been cleaner and that the water should have worked in the shower, definitely.

I was astonished at the 6 hour stop in Zabaykalsk and then another 6 hours at the very next station! I visualized we could have used that time in Beijing! The Russian officials were more concerned at our leaving their country than the Chinese our entering theirs. A part of the trip we will never forget and an exercise in crossing borders.

Finishing the journey in Beijing

And then our arrival in Beijing. Lilly spotted us straight away, no waiting involved and walked us to her driver. When we got to the hotel it was established that we could not go straight up to our room as it was not 8.30 and also that we could not have breakfast as it had been booked for the following morning! An awkward moment which we made the best of. We definitely wanted to shower and get our cases up to our room and prepare for the long day ahead. So, we arranged with Lilly that she would leave us and come back at 9. Whilst waiting for our room to become available we strolled out of the hotel and found a place to have breakfast. Eventually we were allowed into our room and a quick shower – then off to first the Jade factory and then The Great Wall. We realized we were not going to fit in the silk factory, taking into account traffic in Beijing that day ahead of a special day in China the very next day. Lilly was friendly and accommodating and gave us some interesting background to Beijing and Jade, and The Great Wall.

Once at the Great Wall, Lilly led us to the starting point of The Wall and left us to climb as we wished, which we thought was appropriate. Because we were several hours on the Great Wall there was not enough time for lunch. I think, had the travel time in rush traffic been taken into account it could have been established, at the time of preparing the itinerary, that we would not fit all of the places in!

We had a couple of hours back in our room to collect ourselves before Lilly returned to walk us to the chosen restaurant. Because time was of the essence, we were a little alarmed at the long walk we took to get there. Lilly explained she did not know exactly where it was, just a vague idea. It transpired that we could have taken a much shorter route as she realized after the meal we had taken the long way round. I was a little on edge as we had to be at the airport by 8. Meal was very nice and we loved the Peking Duck. Once again traffic was an issue and we got to the airport an hour later than advised but it did not seem to matter.

And, we headed for home … With sights and sounds dancing around in our heads.

A real adventure of a tour Alla, I loved all of it. 14 days was the right length. I am impressed at the way the tour flowed, all our guides were punctual, friendly and accommodating and well informed.

I believe the slight hitches we experienced were due to the language and in fact, in my opinion added just that bit of surprise, thereby enhancing the tour.

And that is that!

Thank you Helen and Charles for your fantastic tale and feedback.

Anyone else feeling inspired to hop on the Trans-Siberian now?

If you are, then take a look at our range of Trans-Siberian tours. If you want to follow in the footsteps of the intrepid duo, look specifically at our Discovery Range Siberian Eye tour!

Fancy sharing your Trans-Siberian tale? Get in touch with us at

Part one can be found here.

Part two can be found here.

Real Russia Blog

Customer Tales: Trains, and banyas, and exploring! Oh my! (Part one)

Customer Tales: Trains, and banyas, and exploring! Oh my! (Part one)

Overcoming language barriers and soaking up Russian life

To continue our series of customer tales from the Trans-Siberian over the summer of 2015, we have a three part tale taking us from Moscow, via Irkutsk and Lake Baikal to Beijing on a tailored version of our Discovery range Siberian Eye tour!

Read part one below to find out their thoughts on arriving in Russia and exploring Moscow, and then keep your eyes peeled to our social media channels and our blog page to read parts two and three over the next couple of weeks!

Arriving in Russia

Good Morning Alla

I wanted to mail you once I had fully settled back here and could think clearly as I am sure you will be interested to hear about every detail of our trip.

My head is half full of Russia as I go about my daily things, visiting another country give one an opportunity for adopting a different perspective and a better understanding of oneself and another culture. Just love it. We have taken so much from this trip. The Russian language, whilst I cannot fully read it I feel familiar with it when I see a Russian word. Charles was good about learning quite a few phrases and words which came in useful on many occasions. I liked the way we communicated and eventually managed to get the other person to understand what we were saying. I think the few hitches we had were mainly because of the language difference and looking back actually enhanced the trip.

Our arrival in Moscow was a little disappointing as any airport might be, the officials were extremely unfriendly and when we arrived in the main entrance hall and got to the Academ desk, the little girl behind it could not understand what I was trying to explain to her even after taking out my Russian itinerary, and it seemed we were not going to get through to her, but eventually she called a gentleman over and he seemed to understand and said because it was a Sunday they would not be able to organize a taxi. However, I persisted and eventually we got a taxi – and a long ride into Moscow.

The receptionists in the Maxima were very nice and helped us always, although once again not all of them could speak good English. The Maxima was perfect from a location point of view Alla, thanks for that, right next to the Metro, which we took twice, after asking a kind receptionist to put in English the station names next to the Russian ones so that we could recognize which station to get out at! We found a supermarket right there as well, with the prices very comparable to ours, and an Exchange Bureau which was very handy.

Exploring Moscow

Our boat cruise was a lovely introduction to Moscow and our guide Olga, although a little quiet, was suitable actually, as she was quite right, we did want to take a lot of photos and she did not interfere, but made herself available to any questions we asked. We realized the following day that we would be covering most of what we saw on the boat trip, again, with Rita, which on reflection was very good, as it helped us retain some of the facts given out. Rita was the complete opposite to Olga, brisk and very knowledgeable, we walked our feet off that day but felt exhilarated nevertheless.

Once we had recovered in our hotel room that night we felt keen to visit Red Square again and go into the Kremlin and get to Arbat Street, which is exactly what we did. This time we could take it a little slower and savour and re-inforce what we had learnt with Rita. The weather was perfect the whole time in Moscow and in fact the while trip through, we were lucky. Charles was very keen to visit the Armory in the Kremlin and disappointed we could not take photos in there! I had no idea how many cathedrals there would be in there – full of Byzantine art, and oozing with history, really beautiful. We had thought we would be allowed into the Kremlin itself and would have appreciated if the lady we booked the ticket with had been able to convey to us that that would not be possible, but once again the language was a barrier. Charles was disappointed!

We loved wandering the streets in the area around our hotel and explored almost every single shop, and especially a delightful bakery across the road. I liked listening to the Russian accents and watching their mannerisms. They all walked very briskly and upright, almost as though marching, very unlike our pace of life over here! Very few smiles, but a feeling of serenity on the faces of passers-by, as though they all live a good life.

We noticed how clean the streets were and even street cleaning machines. And we noticed stray dogs crossing busy streets, Charles had heard that there were packs of wild dogs that roamed the streets, but Olga denied this.

…to be continued…

Excited for the journey ahead?

What did you think to part one? Come back over the next couple of weeks to continue reading about this fantastic journey.

And while you wait, why not take a look at our Trans-Siberian tours?

Alternatively, why not tell us all about your Trans-Siberian tales in the comments below, or via email to

Part two can be found here.

Part three can be found here.