Monday, August 01, 2011

Flight Report: The start of a Trans-Siberian Journey started on SAS (ARN-LED)

This is actually the first of a story arch. Between June 22nd and July 9th, I traveled across Russia along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, eventually ending in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Oh, and fellow traveler on this journey was my mother.

Yes. My mother. It was actually her idea, even if I suggested that we actually do it. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, I've heard about Siberia and the untold riches and fortunes that will be made there. Anyone who asks why gets about the same story: Untapped resources, a changing climate that will open up shipping routes along the north of Russia, and the ensuing trade. She decided to visit me in Sweden this June, so I asked if she wanted to go to Siberia. A lot of planning later and soon we found ourselves backpacks and all headed to Arlanda, both thinking, "Wait... In two hours we'll be in Russia?!".

Additionally, I was thinking, "SeattleFlyerGuy is SeattleFlyerGuy. I'm going to spend nearly a week on a train?! What was I thinking!?" (Fortunately, it all went better than expected, but more on that later).

The trip, as I said, starts at Arlanda, just as most of them do with a final look at Sweden. June 22nd is the height of summer, and I always seem to manage to leave Sweden right when the festivities start up. These pictures taken from our SAS 737 show the islands of the archipelago just outside of Stockholm. A few months ago, they would have been griped in ice, but now they're home to supremely comfortable camping sites and endless nooks and crannies for harboring boats. About 1 in 7 Swedes own a boat. It's about as Swedish as wild strawberries, cardamon, and Pantone 301C along side 116C (in other words, this).


What's it like when we land? Find out after the break.

Flying into St. Petersburg we can plainly see that we are not in Stockholm anymore. Even before we get on the ground, it's clear that this is a world apart in terms of scale and design.

The Dream (or Need?) of Another Era Today

Once we touched down, it was a matter of getting through immigration and then off to the city. Getting from the airport to the city is a matter of getting on a bus and then transferring to the subway some 10 minutes later, but overall pretty painless. Immigration does take a little under an hour to get through, but the officers move people along as fast as they can. Along the way we even ran into some fellow tourists who arrived and found that their visa had incorrect information, but apparently they were able to sort it out at the airport.

Join us next time for a full report on St. Petersburg!

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