Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2018 Travel Plans ... Yes I Said 2018

I mentioned in this post that we had started planning our next trip with the Best Man (BM) and Matron of Honour (MoH).  The trip is going to be pretty epic.  Along with a couple of their friends, we will be going to Russia and Mongolia with a dash of China thrown in if our initial plans hold together.

The trip will be centered around the Trans-Siberian Railroad (TSR).  Our preliminary plans have us visiting St Petersburg and Moscow before getting on the train and heading east.  The train route eventually splits with one way going to Vladivostok, another going into Manchuria, and yet another going into Mongolia and on to Beijing.  We will probably take the branch into Mongolia and end the trip in Beijing.  The train trip is roughly six days but we plan to get off the train along the way if we can.  The trains run every two days so if we get off we have a couple days (or a multiple of two days) to view the sights.

The hard part about the planning is the train tickets.  We want to be comfortable and would prefer the two person cabins.  This would be no problem if we were getting on in Moscow and getting off in Beijing but, since we want to get off and on, the train ticket logistics become a bit more complicated.  I met with our AAA travel agent today and we went over a few details.  The train tickets would have to be point to point i.e. each segment would have to be purchased separately.  This will bump up the price a bit but we will not know the actual amount until we determine how many stops we want to make along the way.

We also talked about an option that we'd bounced around - taking the TSR all the way to Vladivostok, flying back to where the train routes split, then taking the train into Mongolia and Beijing.  This turns out to be a doable plan.  We would have to fly from Vladivostok to Irkutsk to catch the train again, so there would be some overlap of the train route, but the flights are only ten hours long (with layovers) and fly four or five times a week.  That way we could actually say we road the entire TSR.  The extra cost will probably determine if we do this or not.

We will have to have the final itinerary completed roughly ten months before we go.  I will still be on the Appalachian Trail but I trust the Wife, BM, and MoH to put an awesome itinerary together.  The train tickets will be bought three or four months before we go and our visa application has to be in ninety days before we go.  Our agent has experience with Russian visas and they are incredibly thorough - twelve pages long.  Hopefully my job working for the Navy doesn't cause problems.  But who knows, by then the President-elect will have improved the US-Russian relations bigly ... we'll have tremendous relations.  The biggest and best relations ever in the world.

I'll keep you updated as things develop over the next eighteen months.  Can't wait for this next adventure!

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