Haven’t you always wanted to travel the Trans-Siberian railroad?
Now you can take one of the great train journeys of the world without leaving the comfort of your own home.
A new joint venture between Google and Russian Railways provides a virtual gateway to the world’s longest continuous railway.
There are more than 150 hours of footage shot from a moving train, as it winds across seven times zones.
You’ll travel over the Volga, the Yenisei and the Ob Rivers; around Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world; into and out of cities like Novosibirsk, Russia’s third largest; through the Barguzin mountains; and alongside wooden Siberian villages. The 30-minute-stretch from Petrovsk-Zabailkalsky city is particularly picturesque.
To accompany your voyage, you can choose to listen to the hypnotic, natural sound of wheels churning along the tracks. Or, you can select to have Russian radio or traditional balalaika music piping through the “train.”
Riders aren’t able to listen to literary classics like Tolstoi’s War and Peace and Gogol’s Dead Souls, but you can, provided you understand Russian.
If you’re feeling antsy and don’t think you’ll last cooped up on the train for the full six-to-seven days of the voyage, you can stop, jump off and explore fourteen cities en route (a luxury that a Moscow-to-Vladivostok ticket won’t allow).
Through Google maps, you can view video, look at photographs, and read facts and descriptions of historic sites, museums and markets.
Take, for instance, the city of Ulan-Ude — the capital of Russia’s Buryat Republic and major center of Tibetan Buddhism — about three-quarters of the way to the journey’s end.
On a short side trip, you can take a video excursion down Gagarin Street, view photos of the city’s panorama, and read about the Ivolginsky Datsan, where the body of Khambo Lama Itigelov, leader of Russian Buddhists from 1911-1918, is preserved.
While you may not be able to feel the wind on your face, talk to your fellow passengers, or taste the fresh berries and homemade pirozhki sold along route, this virtual train ride will give you a sense of the vastness of the landscape of the world’s largest country.
My weekend plans? I’m finally jumping aboard the Trans-Siberian.
- Christine Kiernan
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