moscow to istambul

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john white

ungelesen,
13.02.2006, 15:36:4913.02.06
an
My wife and I are taking the train from Bejing to Moscow. Then my wife
wants to goto Petersburg. Then, she tells me, she wants to visit
Bulgaria and Romania (don't ask). We will be flying out of Istambul.
My thought is that we are going to need all the help, and advise, that
we can get.

Any thoughts and/or advise would be appreciated.

Thank you...............

Burt the Turk

ungelesen,
14.02.2006, 10:22:1714.02.06
an
>My wife and I are taking the train from Bejing to Moscow. Then my wife
>wants to goto Petersburg. Then, she tells me, she wants to visit
>Bulgaria and Romania (don't ask). We will be flying out of Istambul.
>My thought is that we are going to need all the help, and advise, that
>we can get.

www.seat61.com

Roderick Smith

ungelesen,
15.02.2006, 03:39:4115.02.06
an
I did it by buying Cook's timetable, then going to my travel agent to buy a
ticket from Moskva to Bucaresti (necessary in order to obtain my Russian
visa). Every other sector, I just went up to the booking office with money
and bought a ticket and went.

The trains are safe and comfortable, and I never starved.

I did have to hunt platforms at times with my stock phrase 'vino Krasnavah
proshe' (red wine please), and it worked.

It is so hard to give advice over a newsgroup when we don't know what your
interests are, or what your experience has been, or whether you are
young/fit/flexible or geriatric/fussy.

The trip on which I did this sector was my fifth to Russia, and was one in
which I started in Saigon (nobody calls it Ho Chi Minh City), made my own
way to Hanoi, had prebooked tickets Hanoi - Kumning - Chengdu - Xian -
Almaty - Moskva - Bucaresti, then back to pay as I went.

I wouldn't question anyone going to Bucaresti or Sofia: quite logical. IIRC
Bucaresti had more interesting (and more-interesting) architecture, but I
have had better weather in Sofia.

Which Beijing - Moskva route are you using? The one via Mongolia has the
Chinese train. 20 years ago, this had the better-maintained set. The
Chinese diner didn't go the whole way through: Mongolian diner in Mongolia
(with the world's weirdest beer); Russian diner in Russia.
The one via Manchuria is a Russian set (I haven't ridden this one).
I also went via Pyongyang, which was a Chinese train from Beijing, then
connect to a through car (North Korean) which ran on a North Korean train to
the border, then as a single car to Ussiriysk (sp?) then was attached to
'Russia'.

I loved the travel across Russia in winter, and attended many cabin parties
with people who shouted me vodka so that they could practice English.
Others may wish to travel as a quartet (cabins are set up as four-berth
couchettes), and play bridge the whole way.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

"john white" <jg...@qwest.net> wrote in message
news:k46If.43$903....@news.uswest.net...

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
15.02.2006, 11:14:2515.02.06
an
Roderick Smith schreef:

>
> Which Beijing - Moskva route are you using? The one via Mongolia has the
> Chinese train. 20 years ago, this had the better-maintained set. The
> Chinese diner didn't go the whole way through: Mongolian diner in Mongolia
> (with the world's weirdest beer); Russian diner in Russia.
> The one via Manchuria is a Russian set (I haven't ridden this one).
> I also went via Pyongyang, which was a Chinese train from Beijing, then
> connect to a through car (North Korean) which ran on a North Korean train to
> the border, then as a single car to Ussiriysk (sp?) then was attached to

You went via Pyongyang? Now that's interesting. I thought tourism to the
DPRK was impossible 20 years ago. Could you tell a tad more about that
journey? Thanks a lot!

Regards,
David

john white

ungelesen,
15.02.2006, 16:41:2515.02.06
an
We are taking the train that goes through mongolia. Thank you for the
reply. I should also mention that we have friends from Bulgaria, and
that part of the world. They tell us that we should not take any trains
that will have us arriving at night as its a little unsafe. Do you have
any thoughts on this one?

Oh - we are fairly familiar with traveling. We have been, over the
years to India, China, Egypt, Jordan, Thailand, Latin America, Mexico,
Turkey, etc. We also do not normally take tours unless its one to
familiarize with an area and do most of our own bookings.

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Roderick Smith

ungelesen,
15.02.2006, 16:46:3815.02.06
an
The Pyongyang trip was 1993-94, marking the 10th anniversary of my trip via
Mongolia.
The North Korean visa could be ordered in advance from Australia, but had to
be collected in Beijing (same as the Mongolian one 10 years earlier).
The rules were: compulsory guide, at USD100 per day. This was rather
expensive for a solo traveller; it would have been the same price for a
group of four.
Leaving Beijing: Chinese train. I was in a cabin with three Mongolian
businessmen bringing in huge quantities of consumer goods not available in
their own country. They spoke English, and shared their crate of beer with
me.
The train ran hours late from the border. We arrived in Pyongyang in mid
evening, too late for my promised visit to a railway workshop. The guide
took me to a huge hotel, and stayed on for dinner. I seemed to be the only
guest.
Next morning he collected me in a car with a driver. We followed some tram
routes, then had a short metro ride (same style as Moskva, with ornate
stations), then headed to the station for my departure (IIRC 10.30).
My through carriage was attached to a long Korean train. Meals were brought
to me in my compartment.
This train also ran late.
Next day, the through car was detached from the train (at Tuman'gang?)and
taken to the bogie-change yard, but too late to be changed that day. We
spent the night in the yard. The explanation of this was given to me by the
wife of an automative engineer from North Korea. His family was travelling
to a Volvo factory in Sweden.
Next morning, the carriage had its bogies changed. Nobody stopped me from
taking photos.
The carriage was shunted to Hasan, with no connection to Russia that day.
We spent 24 h there. I had USD to change: there was a food shop beside the
station, and a wine shop in the station. The hot water samovar was no cold,
and the carriage had no lighting. This was a dreary wait.
We continued next day, and were attached to a 'Russia' 2 days later than the
scheduled one. A couple of other carriages were attached at other stops
during the first day.

About four years ago, the agent which handles my bookings to these countries
told me that westerners can no longer use the Hasan crossing. I am not sure
about the crossing for the Pyongyang - Manchuria - Moskva route.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor


"David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> wrote in message
news:45h2b0F...@individual.net...

Roderick Smith

ungelesen,
16.02.2006, 08:06:5916.02.06
an
Have no fears on any train, in Bulgaria or anywhere else.
With your experience, you will cope will, and will not be nervous.
I arrived in Sofia last time from the east, and found an excellent hotel in
the station building itself. 10 min after arriving, I was in a room with a
view over the platforms.
There is a very scenic narrow-gauge line east of Sofia, from Septembri
Dobromiste. It can be done as a day-return trip from Sofia.

The most dangerous countries which I have visited (out of above 90, but not
the magic 100 yet) were:
Johannesburg South Africa
USA: anywhere
London (UK)
Kingston Jamaica
I had to put Joburg top of the list, because I was mugged there (but in a
station where I shouldn't have been).
I have never been mugged in USA, but the warnings are always there.
I have never been bombed in UK, but the stations don't have rubbish bins,
and lette-box slots are shut at night.
I was warned in Kingston, and was hassled, but never attacked.

I am sure that you will have a wonderful journey from Beijing, and
continuing via St Petersburg, Bucaresti & Sofia to Istanbul will make it
even grander and more magic. Where there's a will there's a way. Or (as I
used to reply to people who asked me about my trips): all it takes is money.

Regards,
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor

"john white" <jg...@qwest.net> wrote in message

news:43f3a094$0$7112$6d36...@titian.nntpserver.com...
friends from Bulgaria, and
> that part of the world... tell us that we should not take any trains that

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
16.02.2006, 09:02:2716.02.06
an
Roderick Smith schreef:

> The Pyongyang trip was 1993-94, marking the 10th anniversary of my trip via
> Mongolia.

Ah, I thought you meant that the trip was 20 years ago. Still, in 1993
North-Korea wasn't open for tourists for that long already, right?

[snip - travelogue]

Interesting, thanks for posting. Sounds pretty similar to my
experiences, except that I returned to Beijing via the "normal" route.

> About four years ago, the agent which handles my bookings to these countries
> told me that westerners can no longer use the Hasan crossing.

I indeed heard the same thing abuot this route.

Regards,
David

Ross

ungelesen,
16.02.2006, 18:46:4916.02.06
an
On Fri, 17 Feb 2006 00:06:59 +1100, Roderick Smith wrote in
<_S_If.1727$k6.3...@nasal.pacific.net.au>, seen in
misc.transport.rail.europe:

[...]


> I have never been bombed in UK, but the stations don't have rubbish bins,

Not necessarily true. Where fitted they do tend to be clear plastic
bags nowadays, but that's no reflection on the safety of the UK and a
great reflection on the "being seen to be done something" stance of
politicians here.


> and lette-box slots are shut at night.

I've *never* seen this in the thirty-five years I've lived in the UK.

The closest we ever got to closing anything was in the late 70s/early
80s when most letter boxes had a plate with a small slot fitted so
anything thicker than a letter had to be posted at a post office and
could be checked if suspicious.

I haven't seen one of those plates for over 15 years.

And there's one good point about Europe: unlike .au, you don;t have to
worry about deadly spiders! ;o)
--
Ross, in Lincoln, most likely being cynical or sarcastic, as ever.
Reply-to will bounce. Replace the junk-trap with my name to e-mail me.

Demonstration of poor photography at <http://www.rosspix.me.uk>
AD: <http://www.merciacharters.co.uk> for European charters occasionally gripped by me

Alan J. Flavell

ungelesen,
16.02.2006, 19:28:4216.02.06
an
On Thu, 16 Feb 2006, Ross wrote:

> On Fri, 17 Feb 2006 00:06:59 +1100, Roderick Smith wrote in
> <_S_If.1727$k6.3...@nasal.pacific.net.au>, seen in
> misc.transport.rail.europe:
>

> > I have never been bombed in UK, but the stations don't have
> > rubbish bins,
>
> Not necessarily true. Where fitted they do tend to be clear plastic
> bags nowadays, but that's no reflection on the safety of the UK and
> a great reflection on the "being seen to be done something" stance
> of politicians here.

Yup, that was very much my impression too, when I read that.

The *real* dangers, in any unfamiliar country, are the non-obvious
ones. I'm sure ours is no exception. The hon Usenaut seems to have
been worrying about some high-profile risk that's unlikely to happen,
and even if it does happen is unlikely to be near where they are.

> > and lette-box slots are shut at night.
>
> I've *never* seen this in the thirty-five years I've lived in the
> UK.

I'm baffled by that too.

> And there's one good point about Europe: unlike .au, you don;t have
> to worry about deadly spiders! ;o)

True. A colleague who'd been seconded to .au for a couple of years
used to joke about the trapdoor spiders that were in his lawn...

I believe there's still a reservoir of rabies infection in wildlife on
the mainland - isn't there? - even though one rarely hears about it.

But you're far more likely to be hit by a motor vehicle, whose
operator, no matter how blameworthy, is unlikely to get much more than
a slap on the wrist.

Roderick Smith

ungelesen,
17.02.2006, 01:01:3317.02.06
an
Ross Somebody of Lincoln sounds to be affronted by my comments.
Remember the spirit in which they were made: a lot of people fear the
unknown, and don't want to travel to possibly-risky places. My comments
were in the spirit that places to which people would not hesitate to travel
are no less dangerous. We both agree that the most dangerous activity which
any overseas traveller could do is drive to work each day between major
holidays abroad. If off the beaten track, safety is assured: who would
stake out a minor town in a minor country in the offchance that one tourist
might arrive there one day?

I stand by my comments re postboxes and rubbish bins, but unravelling the
year has been tricky.
* Dec.75-Jan.76: The worst thing was being told, on missing an advertised
connection, that it was missed every 30 min all day. We went for a coffee,
and were told at 21.00: 'Sorry lads, we can't serve you a coffee; we are
closing in 30 minutes'.
* Dec.79-Jan.80: I think that this was the holiday where I photographed
three signs: 'What to do if you see an unattended parcel in this carriage';
on a platform 'unattended luggage will be detonated'; and 'If London floods
today, don't go home by tube, do use a double-deck bus, and ride on the
upper deck'. This was also the holiday when I couldn't buy a beer in
Chatham: 'Sorry sir, it's after 4 pm'. That situation has been altered.
* It was in this interlude that a friend sent me a postcard from Liverpool:
'As I write, the hotel next door is still smouldering'. Was this the
Toxteth riot?
* Dec.83-Jan.84: Just one day.
* Dec.85-Jan.86: No terrorist fears, and no health fears. The lady running
a cheap Blackpool lodging house said with pride 'This isn't a flea pit
sonny; we have *sheets* on our beds'. Had the Thames barrage been completed
by then?
* Dec.91-Jan.92: I think that this was the one where London Victoria had no
rubbish bins, and there were signs too: 'There are no rubbish bins at this
station; please carry your rubbish home'. This was also the one with the
sealed letterbox slits. Perhaps I did misjudge, and it was possible to
place a postcard through a narrowed slit. I think that this was also the
holiday where luggage lockers had been removed, and the
ferociously-expensive left-luggage facility at Paddington closed mid
evening; I had to nurse my suitcase from then until the departure of the
Penzance train. There may have been a period with no left-luggage facility
at all.
* Dec.95-Jan.96: No safety fears. Cloakrooms were functioning.
* Dec.00-Jan.01: My nicest No safety fears, and no mugging fears (no
money left in my wallet after paying for food and accommodation).

And London/UK are certainly not the only dangerous places in this world.
On my first New Orleans holiday, a sign in my room advised that it was not a
dangerous place if one took simple precautions: 'When you want to walk
around New Orleans, just leave your wallet here in the hotel'.

Yes, my own country can be dangerous. We have had an unsuspecting German
tourist eaten while swimming in a crocodile-infested waterway in Northern
Territory; another collapsed and died after suffering from heat exhaustion
while climbing Ayers Rock. Australia does have the world's most venemous
snake, but most Aussies (and tourists) would never see one.

I write from a city where parnaoia has manifested itself as a ban on train
photography at suburban stations (run by Connex of course). Meanwhile, the
last Aussies to be bombed were in a nightclub, and photography at nightclubs
hasn't been banned.
"Ross" <junk...@aslef-lincoln.org.uk> wrote in message
news:cf3av1p42l2psm4d6...@4ax.com...

Ross

ungelesen,
17.02.2006, 13:26:4817.02.06
an
On Fri, 17 Feb 2006 17:01:33 +1100, Roderick Smith wrote in
<aKdJf.1751$k6.3...@nasal.pacific.net.au>, seen in
misc.transport.rail.europe:

> Ross Somebody

I wasn't affronted until you called me that . I post using my first
name, and that's all you need to use to identify me.

Calling me "Ross Somebody" as if I I'm doing something wrong and
worthy of snide comment by not posting with a full name is patronising
to say the least.


> of Lincoln sounds to be affronted by my comments.

No. I simply think you're panic-mongering.


> Remember the spirit in which they were made: a lot of people fear the
> unknown, and don't want to travel to possibly-risky places.

Yes, indeed. So you point them away from places where the risk is
minimal just because you can't tell the difference between a risk
twenty years ago and one today.

I couldn't comment about your statements regarding the other places as
I've never been to any of them - but believe me, had I the knowledge,
I would have done so. It's not about the UK, or the US, or any
specific country; it's about the fact that you're using
half-remembered incidents decades ago to suggest what is happening
today and where people should avoid as a result.


> My comments
> were in the spirit that places to which people would not hesitate to travel
> are no less dangerous.

That's not how I read them. In fact, re-reading your post, I can't see
how anyone could have possibly taken them in that spirit; the
impression I got was "Don't worry about eastern Europe and Asia
because compared to the places I list, they're *much* safer".


[...]

> I stand by my comments re postboxes

And then later you say:

> This was also the one with the sealed letterbox slits. Perhaps I did
> misjudge, and it was possible to place a postcard through a narrowed slit.

Your comment, which was that letter boxes were completely sealed at
night (but not, by inference, during the day). That is wrong.

Your revised comment that a postcard (and not, by inference, anything
larger) could be posted is also wrong. I have clearly stated the
situation at the time; why not simply accept that your memory was
faulty?


> and rubbish bins, but unravelling the year has been tricky.

Clue: it's not 2006.

You're right that during the IRA campaigns bins were removed. That was
then, and then was quite a long time ago.

Today fixed bins are still not used because we've learnt our lesson,
but at stations where continually circulating cleaners can't be
justified, the bags I mentioned are provided.


[snip paragraphs of mostly irrelevant memories]

In reply to my tongue-in-cheek comment, complete with smiley, that .au
wasn't always safe:

> Yes, my own country can be dangerous. We have had an unsuspecting German
> tourist eaten while swimming in a crocodile-infested waterway in Northern
> Territory; another collapsed and died after suffering from heat exhaustion
> while climbing Ayers Rock. Australia does have the world's most venemous
> snake, but most Aussies (and tourists) would never see one.

[...]

Given your massive rant in response to my comments, which I've snipped
for brevity as well as relevance, it strikes me that you're affronted
by the fact that your statements have been challenged.

I assume that's also why you've forgotten how to quote context.

Alan J. Flavell

ungelesen,
17.02.2006, 17:30:5517.02.06
an
On Fri, 17 Feb 2006, Ross wrote:

> On Fri, 17 Feb 2006 17:01:33 +1100, Roderick Smith wrote in
> <aKdJf.1751$k6.3...@nasal.pacific.net.au>, seen in
> misc.transport.rail.europe:
>
> > Ross Somebody
>
> I wasn't affronted until you called me that . I post using my first
> name, and that's all you need to use to identify me.

I have the impression that the hon. Usenaut is more interested in
establishing his right to post whatever misleading impressions he
cares to post, than in establishing anything approaching the truth.

> > Remember the spirit in which they were made: a lot of people fear
> > the unknown, and don't want to travel to possibly-risky places.
>
> Yes, indeed. So you point them away from places where the risk is
> minimal just because you can't tell the difference between a risk
> twenty years ago and one today.

That's *part* of the issue, indeed. But: even when the IRA threat was
amongst us, the individual risk was rather small, compared to the risk
of everyday accidents. The same principle can be applied to today's
situation, too, despite the atmosphere of panic, and withdrawal of
human rights which the guvmint of the day seems hell-bent on imposing.

> > My comments were in the spirit that places to which people would
> > not hesitate to travel are no less dangerous.
>
> That's not how I read them. In fact, re-reading your post, I can't
> see how anyone could have possibly taken them in that spirit; the
> impression I got was "Don't worry about eastern Europe and Asia
> because compared to the places I list, they're *much* safer".

I suspect the hon. Usenaut isn't interested in our impressions, but
nevertheless, I'll confirm that I read that posting in much the same
way as you did.

> Clue: it's not 2006.
>
> You're right that during the IRA campaigns bins were removed. That was
> then, and then was quite a long time ago.

That's only part of the answer. I say again, the high-profile risks
are not the real risks which individuals need to evaluate. They are
high-profile precisely *because* they are extremely rare, and, with
all due sympathy for those few individuals who fall foul of them, in
reality affect only a tiny, tiny minority of the millions who live
here and who visit here, and who go about their lawful business.

I recall, quite some years back now, a one-day rail strike which was
plastered all over our papers: it was pointed out by a sceptic that
one local railway in Italy had been on strike for 3 years already, and
the papers didn't bother to mention it. That's the difference, and
the same principle applies to risks. The ones that make it into the
press are the exceptions: far more worrying are the everyday risks
which are sufficiently common and uninteresting that the press rarely
mention them, like falling down stairs, or getting hit by a motor
vehicle.

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