January 01, 2013

Trains, Circassians and Method Acting

As we were preparing this issue, which has a long feature on the history of Russian rails (page 36), I was reminded that, like many frequent travelers to Russia, I have countless train-related memories of Russia, most of them positive. Sure, there was that one horrific overnight in an unbelievably loud carriage en route to St. Petersburg... and the time we were pestered by an overzealous customs agent on the train to Helsinki... But these were exceptions.

The rule has been pleasant, safe, trips across Russia, with fond memories. Like pulling into Saratov on a bright fall morning, or staying up all night on a train to the far North, drinking vodka, eating chicken and telling stories.

What I love about train travel is that it is efficient, yet not unreal. You are traveling through the landscape, not above it; you can move about and socialize with fellow travelers; you are not encased in an automotive cocoon. In my mind, it really is the best way to travel about a country.

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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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