We have the pleasure of sharing a testimonial from our recent guests, Anni and Scott Stoddart, from Sydney in Australia, who travelled with us in March on our Winter Wonderland, Trans-Siberian Express journey from Vladivostok to Moscow.
"After planning for around ten months for this trip to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary we were finally boarding the Golden Eagle luxury Trans-Siberian train for twelve nights travelling westwards from Vladivostok to Moscow. The journey started with a band playing on the platform – lovely start on a cold winter’s night. We booked a Gold Class cabin which had an adequate ensuite with lovely heated floor.
After fighting with the shower on two occasions when the water was either freezing or scalding (no mixing), the train engineer declared it ‘unusable’. Thankfully, there was a free cabin to which to transfer .. and it was an Imperial one! Lucky and very happy couple and many thanks to Anna for sorting this out for us.
As to the trip … well it was simply AMAZING !! The staff and especially our tour leader, Anna, were lovely and very attentive. The food choices at all meals were excellent with plenty of options for me, a non-meat eater. Standard wine and spirits were included at meals and in the bar. Days are spent either on the train and, no, not at all boring, or heading out from time to time on local tours.
On the on-board days, there was the spectacular scenery outside the windows as you passed though Far Eastern Russia, Siberia, Mongolia, the Urals and Russia; the on-board activities ranged from reading daily ‘papers’ and watching documentaries to our Russian language lessons held by Anna. These were such fun and culminated in a ‘concert’ of our two songs in the bar cabin on the last night accompanied by our long-suffering pianist Vadim Sheglov. We did not even open the books we had taken as just no time to read!
There are also opportunities along the way to have some ‘platform time’ at some of the stations we passed through. It was, however, necessary to keep an eye on the time as we were attached to differing main Russian trains all with their very strict adherence to timetables. If the timetable stated arriving at 13:43 and leaving at 14:04 then that is exactly what it did! Tours in the various cities/towns were run by local agents who were extremely knowledgeable in their locations/museums and any lunches and dinners taken off the train were excellent.
There were many highlights including a day on the frozen Lake Baikal where our arrival in hovercrafts was met by a large carved ice table with ice glasses for the vodkas (delicious and bought some to bring home!) and ice platters for local raw and cooked fish. There was a dog sled and snow mobiles and lunch in a local restaurant. What a day!
Another great opportunity was to stay overnight in the village of the Old Believers Tarbagatai where, after dinner, seven of us stayed over in various village houses, each with a banya (sauna). We were picked up at Shaluty station the next morning where our train stopped (as we had been warned :-)) for one minute at 07:45. As the last of us boarded, the train was already moving on!
We were fortunate in that our actual anniversary was on the night they held the “Golden Eagle Caviar Dinner” and everyone was also treated to champagne. Wonderful way to celebrate. This was just one of a few ‘surprises/treats’ organised by the company that made the trip so wonderful.
We finally had to disembark in Moscow and transferred to the Ritz Carlton and a final farewell dinner, also to celebrate another couple’s 50th wedding anniversary.
Definitely a wonderful trip and will have many memories, and photos, to look back on over the years. Would definitely recommend this journey".
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