Archive for vacation

Overnight: The Trans-Siberian Railway


TransSiberianRailwayMapw355h222 I would *love* to take the Trans-Siberian Railway sometime! The map above is from From their page - preparing for the trip:

  • Packing the following items is recommended for any lengthy journey on the Trans-Siberian railway
  • Pocket knife For slicing up bread and vegetables you can buy from the sellers at major stops
  • Cutlery Instant noodles, or its Russian version - instant potatoes, become essential snacks for most travellers, since each carriage is equipped with boiling water from the Samovar, unfortunately they often come without the usual plastic fork or spoon.
  • Perfumed wet tissues/baby wipes/wet wipes These little things can do wonders for your personal hygiene.
  • Head lamp On these long journeys (through 8 time zones), it often turns out that Einstein indeed was right - time does become relative. So bring a headlamp for reading when others want to slumber.
  • Flip-flops or other slip on footwear, for your days on the train
  • Deck of cards or other easily explained games are great for socializing with your fellow travelers, and making the long hours spent on the train immensely more enjoyable. Bring a deck of 5 Crowns for this is a favourite in Russia. If you are a chess player, by all means bring a little chess set - the game is really very popular in Russia.
  • Pictures of your home, country and family and a phrasebook with a conversation section (Lonely Planet's phrasebook is a good one) can work surprisingly well, since you'll have nothing but time to overcome the language gap. Many Russians tend to be curious about foreigners once the initial suspicion dies down, since they don't normally meet many - even these days. Recommended: make a list of vocabulary and study it in the train!

Paul Theroux has a great description of his Trans-Siberian trip in The Great Railway Bazaar

This video is a documentary about the building of the railway:

This video is of a private train which makes the long, long trip.

From YouTube:

The epic Private Train Journey on the world's most famous Railway
Further Information:
Over 25 years of experience - More than 30,000 satisfied guests.

Director Michael Altenhenne has captured the journey on the Transsiberian by Private Train with his camera in a virtuoso manner. His impressions of Russia, Mongolia and China are perfect to lose oneself in the yearning for or maybe even one's own memories of the last genuine adventure trip on earth. The unique atmosphere onboard the comfortable private train, the sublime mood of the travellers and the natural and cultural wonders en route unfold their irresistible charm in this excellent documentary.

Filmmaker: Michael Altenhenne (


Overnight: Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes (UNESCO/NHK)


Rhaetian Railway
Photo: Harold Cunningham/Getty on the BBC website linked to below.

I saw this feature:

The Swiss Train Tourists Don't Take (BBC)

about the Rhaetian Railway the other day on the BBC website then realized there might be a video.

'Rhaetia' - also spelled 'Raetia was a province of the Roman empire which is now part of Switzerland. The map on this Wiki will show you where: Rhaetia

I've always found it interesting because languages fascinate me and, while it's spoken by very few people, it is still one of the four official languages of Switzerland. You can learn more about it here: Romansh/Romansch

From the Wiki

Romansh is a descendant of the spoken Latin language of the Roman Empire, which replaced the Celtic and Raetic languages previously spoken in the area by the 5th century AD

I also love trains, which is why this video is here. Enjoy.


Overnight: Rick Steves: San Marino


San Marino

I love Italy and have been there often but I have never stopped by to see the Republic of San Marino. Rick Steves has been there and this is his short film about the mini-country.

Here's the wiki if you'd like to know more: San Marino.


Overnight: The Trans-Siberian Railway


Overnight Trans Siberian Railway

I've read about the Trans-Siberian Railway a number of times, most notably in The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. Before this documentary, I had never seen aerial footage of the route nor understood what a monumental undertaking it was.

From the 'About' information on YouTube:

For those who travel for the pleasure of the journey, those who believe that getting there is as much fun as being there, Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway has long been an almost mythic experience. It is the longest continuous rail line on earth, each run clattering along in an epic journey of almost six thousand miles (or about ten thousand kilometers) over one third of the globe. For most of its history, the Trans-Siberian journey has been an experience of almost continuous movement, seven days or more of unabated train travel through the vast expanse of Russia. A great part of the pleasure of such a trip is simply sitting back and watching the land go by. However, most travelers on the Trans-Siberian find that interaction with other passengers, both Russians and tourists, is what makes the trip an unforgettable experience. Today, with far fewer travel restrictions, it is possible to use the rail journey as the core of a more varied tour. Travelers can enjoy stopovers in many of the Russian cities and towns along the route, from the historic Volga port of Yaroslavl to Irkutsk and the scenic Lake Baikal region.


Overnight: Visit Oxford University



Note: This is a Viking Cruises video.

From the 'About' information on YouTube:

Go behind the scenes with Karine Hagen at the university that has educated kings and presidents. Learn more at

Tour the University of Oxford, Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds as a part of the Oxford & Highclere Castle cruise extension, available on Paris & the Heart of Normandy and Cities of Light cruises.


Book Booth: Getting Ready for Summer Edition.



The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

It is the weekend once again and a good time to dream about summer vacation. I've posted several travel ideas the past couple of weeks, but Buzzfeed has come up with more places to consider. Or consider them all. Summer Vacation Travel Destinations

Of course some of us just wont be able to travel this summer and will be having staycations (I think I don't really like that word). Author Emma Straub at Publishers Weekly has some ideas on books to read while you stay at home.

With summer coming soon, many of us think about grilling. And then grilling some more. For this summer, you might want to consider this handy book for your BBQ needs.

For folks looking for a good read this weekend, Shane Parrish at The Week makes the argument for staying off the bestseller grid. There are book delights out there that don't make lists. (And apparently Mr. Parrish has discovered the 25th hour of the day and says he read 161 book last year. Color me envious.) Here's the list.

One anomaly on current bestseller lists is Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, The Report on income inequality. I haven't read it, but I don't doubt its importance. Thomas Frank had this assessment at Salon and suggests one major lacunae in its analysis. The Labor Union. Read about Thomas Piketty's Capital here.

In this week's cautionary tales, be careful what celebrities you choose to use in any particular novel you happen to be writing this weekend. And certainly don't think of Scarlett Johansson, who gets easily pissed off.

Then there are writers who enjoy appearing on the silver screen. MentalFloss has 25 such examples. A couple that were left off the list include E.L. Doctorow in Robert Altman's Buffalo Bill and the Indians (Altman was the original pick to direct Ragtime, but replaced by Milos Forman) and Dennis Lehane who appears waving to the crowd in the parade that ends Clint Eastwood's film version of Mystic River.

In our search for great book cover art, the Shortlist offered up their 50 coolest jackets. And they are pretty cool.

My hope is that the art of reading is not a lost cause, but after perusing this article from HuffPo, I begin to wonder.

Maybe our hopes for better readers resides in the generations to come. Daniel Dalton gives us some, well, interesting reviews of contemporary young adult fiction over here at Buzzfeed.

Have a magnificent weekend and please let us know what


Overnight: Canada - Montreal



I have been to other parts of Canada, east and west, several times but for some reason, never to Montreal, so I thought I'd familiarize myself with the city via this documentary:

From the 'About' section on YouTube:

Documentary about life in the city of Montréal and stuff to do as a visitor.
The broadcast version will be longer, to fill a one-hour slot, and will be voiced by a professional voice-over announcer./
Documentaire sur la vie dans la ville de Montréal et d'autres choses à faire en tant que visiteur.
La version diffusée sera plus, pour remplir une slot d'une heure, et sera exprimée par un animateur professionnel
D-I-T-O Productions of Toronto/Productions Numérique de Montréal