Whistle stops on the Trans Siberian Railroad that you won’t forget

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photo by CC user InvictaHOG on wikimedia

While many romanticize the process of traveling on the Trans Siberian Railroad, many people don’t realize how tedious spending seven days and nights on a train can be. Break up your trip by visiting the following whistle stops along the way…

1) Suzdal

A short trip from Moscow (relatively speaking), Suzdal will make a great first stop along the Trans-Siberian Railway, as it is a small town that has the distinction of having the most churches per capita in the country.

Preserved by the government as is dating back from Soviet times, those looking for a peek into Russian country living will be in for a treat here, as elderly women washing clothes by hand down by the river, loose livestock wandering through the streets are common sights here. Try some medovukha (a cider made from honey) but watch out for fakes – ask a local where you can find the real stuff.

2) Perm

Getting deeper into the vast Russian interior, the Siberian city of Perm may not make a favorable first impression due to its industrial appearance, but its location in the foothills of the Ural Mountains make it a great hub to enjoy a variety of recreation options year round.

Skiing, hiking and whitewater rafting are just a few activities of which you can partake, while those that are less athletically inclined can indulge in the city’s rapidly growing arts scene, which includes frequent events and a number of excellent museums and galleries.

3) Tomsk

While Siberia is a wild and interesting place, it can be hard to find a person with which an intelligent exchange can be had. Tomsk is the exception that rule, as this university city of a half million people offers much in the way of cafes, culture and boisterous nightlife.

4) Lake Baikal

Being one of the most famous natural attractions on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Lake Baikal will nonetheless surprise you with its deep blue hue, which is a shade produced by being the deepest fresh water lake in the world.

This 1,637 metre deep, 636 kilometre long rift lake contains over a fifth of the world’s drinkable water (in most places, you can drink right out of it, as its purity approaches distilled water). Camping, diving, boat trips, fishing and other outdoor activities are possible here, so take your time in this natural paradise.

5) Ulan-Ude

When it comes to religion, most associate Russia with the Orthodox Church, as its onion-bulb cathedrals are practically one of its national icons. However, Buddhism has a strong presence in the city of Ulan-Ude, a city founded in Asiatic Russia due to its proximity to well-worn trade routes with Mongolia and China.

Get the lowdown on how this faith is practiced within Russia at Rimpoche Bagsha, a relatively new temple on a hill overlooking the city. Also, the world’s largest head statue of Lenin can be found here … so you could see that if Buddhism isn’t your thing.

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