Tag Archives: Train Travel

Silk Road Train Adventure

13 days / 12 nights – Tour Silk Road Adventure

Departure from Frankfurt/Main, arrival in Ashgabat (ca. 1-2 days).
Trainride to Dashoguz (1 day) and Kohne Urgench (1 day) afterwards drive to Khiva (2 days).
Busride to Bukhara (3 days).
Trainride to Samarkand (2 days), Taschkent (1 day) and Almaty (2 days).

Tour-Program:
Frankfurt – Ashgabat – Dashoguz – Kohne Urgench – Khiva – Bukhara – Samarkand – Taschkent – Almaty – Frankfurt

Departure from Frankfurt/Main to Ashgabat.

  1. Day: Arrival in Ashgbat. Check In at the hotel. Time for rest. Breakfast. Tour of the city. Dinner (B/D)
  2. Day: Breakfast. Visit to a Basaar.Trainride to Dashoguz. Lunchbox. Overnight on the train. (B/D)
  3. Day: Arrival to Dashoguz at 08:00. Breakfast. Departure to Kohne Urgench. Tour of Kohne Urgench and afterwards, drive to turkmen – Uzbek Border. Bordercrossing. Drive to Khiva. Check In at the hotel. Dinner. (B/L/D)
  4. Day: Breakfast. Sightseeingtour in Khiva (UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old city fortress Itchan Kala with its minarets, medresses and masoleums). (B/D)
  5. Day: Breakfast. Busride to Bukhara, approx. 7 hours. Picknick on the way in at typical uzbek teehouse – “choyhona”. Check In at the hotel. Dinner in the Medresse Nodir Divan Begim. (B/P/D)
  6. Day: Breakfast. Sightseeingtour of the city (UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Masoleum of the Samanids, Kaljanminarett, Kaljan Mosque and Medresse Mir – i – Arab). Dinner. (B/D)
  7. Day: Breakfast. Trainride to Samarkand. Check In at the hotel. Sightseeingtour of the city ( previously UNESCO World Heritage Site , the Registansquare). Dinner. (B/D)
  8. Day: Breakfast. Continued excursion of Samarkand (UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ulugbeck Observatorium, Afrosiab, Gur Emir Masoleum). Dinner. (B/D)
  9. Day: Early breakfast. Trainride to Tashkent. Check In at the hotel. Sightseeing tour of the city (Khast Imam Complex, Old City). Dinner (B/D)
  10. Day: Breakfast. Visit to a local Basaar. Trainride to Almaty. Dinner – lunchbox. Overnight on the train. (B/D)
  11. Day: Breakfast – lunchbox. Lunch in the train restaurant. Arrival in Almaty. Check In at the hotel. Dinner. (B/L/D)
  12. Day: Breakfast. Sightseeing tour. (B/D)
  13. Day: Departure to Frankfurt/Main. Arrival in Frankfurt.

Explanation of abbreviations:

B- Breakfast
L- Lunchbox
P- Picknick
D- Dinner

Hotels:

Tashkent Palace 4*
Asia Khiva 3* or. Malika 3*
Asia Bukhara 3* or. Omar Khayyam 3*
Asia Samarkand 3* or. Grand Samarkand 3*
Hotel Kazakhstan 3* in Almaty
Hotel Grand Turkmen or Ak Altyn 4*in Ashgabat

Services included:

  • Double room accommodation (based on twin rooms): Ak-Keme**** or Golden Dragon**** or Silk Road Lodge*** Hotel in Bishkek
  • Transportation (German minibus or bus with a/c)
  • Mineral water (1 litter per person per day)
  • Full board from Day 1 till day 3 according the program;English speaking guide according the program
  • Entry fees to museums
  • Porterage service at hotels and airport according the program.

Services not included:

  • Single room accommodation in Hotels
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Cost for Kyrgyz and Kazakh visas
  • Fees for video and photo shootings
  • Tips and private expenses of tourists

Price: starting at 2900.- EURO (plus taxes/fees at time of ticketing)

Optional we create your individual tour along the Silk Road even longer or shorter. Just send us your details we create your tailormade Silk Raod Adventure.

Your Request

Make a tour request here or call us +49-69-95 90 97 00!!!

The Silk Road
The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade, a major reason for the connection of trade routes into an extensive transcontinental network. The German terms Seidenstraße and Seidenstraßen “the Silk Road(s)” were coined by Ferdinand von Richthofen, who made seven expeditions to China from 1868 to 1872. The term Silk Route is also used. Although the term was coined in the 19th century, it did not gain widespread acceptance in academia or popularity among the public until the 20th century. The first book entitled The Silk Road was by Swedish geographer Sven Hedin in 1938. The fall of the Soviet Union and ‘Iron Curtain’ in 1989 led to a surge of public and academic interest in Silk Road sites and studies in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

Use of the term ‘Silk Road‘ is not without its detractors. For instance, Warwick Ball contends that the maritime spice trade with India and Arabia was far more consequential for the economy of the Roman Empire than the silk trade with China, which at sea was conducted mostly through India and on land was handled by numerous intermediaries such as the Sogdians. Going as far as to call the whole thing a “myth” of modern academia, Ball argues that there was no coherent overland trade system and no free movement of goods from East Asia to the West until the period of the Mongol Empire. He notes that traditional authors discussing East-West trade such as Marco Polo and Edward Gibbon never labelled any route as a silk one in particular.

History
From the 2nd millennium BCE, nephrite jade was being traded from mines in the region of Yarkand and Khotan to China. Significantly, these mines were not very far from the lapis lazuli and spinel (“Balas Ruby“) mines in Badakhshan, and, although separated by the formidable Pamir Mountains, routes across them were apparently in use from very early times.

Chinese jade and steatite plaques, in the Scythian-style animal art of the steppes. 4th–3rd century BCE. British Museum.
Some remnants of what was probably Chinese silk dating from 1070 BCE have been found in Ancient Egypt. The Great Oasis cities of central Asia played a crucial role in the effective functioning of the Silk Road trade. The originating source seems sufficiently reliable, but silk degrades very rapidly, so it cannot be verified whether it was cultivated silk (which would almost certainly have come from China) or a type of “wild silk”, which might have come from the Mediterranean region or the Middle East.

Following contacts between metropolitan China and nomadic western border territories in the 8th century BCE, gold was introduced from Central Asia, and Chinese jade carvers began to make imitation designs of the steppes, adopting the Scythian-style animal art of the steppes (depictions of animals locked in combat). This style is particularly reflected in the rectangular belt plaques made of gold and bronze, with other versions in jade and steatite.[citation needed] The tomb of a Scythian prince near Stuttgart, Germany, dated to the 6th century BCE, was excavated and found to have not only Greek bronzes but also Chinese silks. Similar animal-shaped pieces of art and wrestler motifs on belts have been found in Scythian grave sites stretching from the Black Sea region all the way to Warring States era archaeological sites in Inner Mongolia (at Aluchaideng) and Shaanxi (at Keshengzhuang) in China.

The expansion of Scythian cultures, stretching from the Hungarian plain and the Carpathian Mountains to the Chinese Kansu Corridor, and linking the Middle East with Northern India and the Punjab, undoubtedly played an important role in the development of the Silk Road. Scythians accompanied the Assyrian Esarhaddon on his invasion of Egypt, and their distinctive triangular arrowheads have been found as far south as Aswan. These nomadic peoples were dependent upon neighbouring settled populations for a number of important technologies, and in addition to raiding vulnerable settlements for these commodities, they also encouraged long-distance merchants as a source of income through the enforced payment of tariffs. Soghdian Scythian merchants played a vital role in later periods in the development of the Silk Road.

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Trans-Siberian Train (Winter)

The Trans-Siberian Train also known as “The Vodka Train”.

Enjoy an unforgetable trip with the Trans-Sib-Train along one of the longest railways of the world, following the footprints of Alexander von Humboldt.

approx. 20-day trip from Moscow to Beijing on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Starting with 2 days in Moscow visiting Red Square, the Kremlin, GUM and a lot of other scenic and historic places in Moscow. First stop with the Trans-Siberian-Train will be in Kazan, with a beautiful Kremline of its own, and Yekaterinenburg, which has a few days of relaxation and winter wandering on Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal.

Enjoying the typical Russian sauna (Banya), ice-bathing (hole in the ice) or ice-fishing, plus a few days in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, and it’s breathtaking surrounding countryside, as well as few days among the temples and markets in Beijing.

Alternate you can continue after Lake Baikal with a couple of days up to an week exciting skiing experience in the Ural mountains.

Train accommodations in 1st and 2nd class compartments plus accommodations in 4-5 star hotels (several times) breakfast included, in romantic and comfortable wooden cabins on Olikon Island (included breakfast, partly full board).

City tours, tour buses or vans, transfer costs.

Trip organization and translations: English/German/Russian

Price from EUR 4,500.

Group: Maximum of 8 people + trip organizer and translator.

Included Services:

  • Trans-Siberian Train in first and second class compartments (2- and 4-bed-compartment) in Russian standard wagons of the Trans-Siberian Railway
  • Accomodations in rooms with double-bed according to the tour description hotels, hostels and typical wooden huts.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner acording to the tour description
  • All transfers and excursions, entrance fees are not included
  • Tour Guide/Translator, English guided trip with a mother tongue Russian guide
  • Trip-price-Insurance (Sicherungsschein)

Not included:

  • Visa Service (additional fees, can be organized by SMS Frankfurt)
  • Consul fees
  • Flights
  • Health-Insurance, required
  • Personnel Incurance

Dates:
Departure mid/end January from Frankfurt or alternate airport.

Optional we create your individual train trip along the Transsiberian Railroad even longer or shorter. Just send us your details and we create your tailormade Russian Train Adventure, one of the last Bucketlist Trips.

Your Request

Make a tour request here or call us +49-69-95 90 97 00!!!

History of the Trans-Siberian Railway
In the late 19th century, the development of Siberia was hampered by poor transport links within the region, as well as with the rest of the country. Aside from the Great Siberian Route, good roads suitable for wheeled transport were rare. For about five months of the year, rivers were the main means of transport. During the cold half of the year, cargo and passengers travelled by horse-drawn sledges over the winter roads, many of which were the same rivers, but ice-covered.

The first steamboat on the River Ob, Nikita Myasnikov’s Osnova, was launched in 1844. But early beginnings were difficult, and it was not until 1857 that steamboat shipping started developing on the Ob system in a serious way. Steamboats started operating on the Yenisei in 1863, on the Lena and Amur in the 1870s. While the comparative flatness of Western Siberia was at least fairly well served by the gigantic Ob–Irtysh–Tobol–Chulym river system, the mighty rivers of Eastern Siberia – the Yenisei, the upper course of the Angara River (the Angara below Bratsk was not easily navigable because of the rapids), and the Lena – were mostly navigable only in the north-south direction. An attempt to partially remedy the situation by building the Ob-Yenisei Canal was not particularly successful. Only a railway could be a real solution to the region’s transport problems.

The first railway projects in Siberia emerged after the completion of the Moscow-Saint Petersburg Railway in 1851. One of the first was the Irkutsk–Chita project, proposed by the American entrepreneur Perry Collins and supported by Transport Minister Constantine Possiet with a view toward connecting Moscow to the Amur River, and consequently, to the Pacific Ocean. Siberia’s governor, Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky, was anxious to advance the colonisation of the Russian Far East, but his plans could not materialise as long as the colonists had to import grain and other food from China and Korea. It was on Muravyov’s initiative that surveys for a railway in the Khabarovsk region were conducted.

Before 1880, the central government had virtually ignored these projects, because of the weakness of Siberian enterprises, a clumsy bureaucracy, and fear of financial risk. By 1880, there were a large number of rejected and upcoming applications for permission to construct railways to connect Siberia with the Pacific, but not Eastern Russia. This worried the government and made connecting Siberia with Central Russia a pressing concern. The design process lasted 10 years. Along with the route actually constructed, alternative projects were proposed:

Southern route: via Kazakhstan, Barnaul, Abakan and Mongolia.
Northern route: via Tyumen, Tobolsk, Tomsk, Yeniseysk and the modern Baikal Amur Mainline or even through Yakutsk.

The line was divided into seven sections, on all or most of which work proceeded simultaneously, using the labour of 62,000 men. The total cost was estimated at £35 million sterling; the first section (Chelyabinsk to the River Ob) was finished at a cost £900,000 less than the estimate. Railwaymen fought against suggestions to save funds, for example, by installing ferryboats instead of bridges over the rivers until traffic increased. The designers insisted and secured the decision to construct an uninterrupted railway.

Unlike the rejected private projects that intended to connect the existing cities demanding transport, the Trans-Siberian did not have such a priority. Thus, to save money and avoid clashes with land owners, it was decided to lay the railway outside the existing cities. Tomsk was the largest city, and the most unfortunate, because the swampy banks of the Ob River near it were considered inappropriate for a bridge. The railway was laid 70 km (43 mi) to the south (instead crossing the Ob at Novonikolaevsk, later renamed Novosibirsk); just a dead-end branch line connected with Tomsk, depriving the city of the prospective transit railway traffic and trade.

Trans-Siberian Railway (Summer)

The Trans-Siberian Train also known as “The Vodka Train”.

Enjoy an unforgetable trip with the Trans-Sib-Train along one of the longest railways of the world, following the footprints of Alexander von Humboldt.
Approx. 20-day trip from Moscow to Beijing on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Starting with 2 days in Moscow visiting Red Square, the Kremlin, GUM and a lot of other scenic and historic places in Moscow. First stop with the Trans-Siberian-Train will be in Kazan, with a beautiful Kremlin of its own, and Yekaterinenburg, which has a few days of relaxation and summer activities on Olikon Island in Lake Baikal.


Enjoying the typical Russian sauna (Banya) hiking or mountain biking, plus a few days in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, and it’s breathtaking surrounding countryside, as well as few days among the temples and markets in Beijing.
Train accommodations in 1st and 2nd class compartments plus accommodations in 4-5 star hotels (several times) breakfast included, in romantic and comfortable wooden cabins on Olkhon Island (included breakfast, partly full board).
City tours, tour buses or vans, transfer costs.
Trip organization and translations: English/German/Russian
Price starts with EUR 4,900.
Group: Maximum of 10 people + trip organizer and translator.

Included Services:

  • Transsiberian-Train in first and second class compartments (2- and 4-bed-compartment) in Russian standard wagons of the Trans-siberian Railway.
  • Accomodations in rooms with double-bed according to the tour description hotels, hostels and typical wooden huts
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner acording to the tour description
  • All transfers and excursions, entrance fees are not included
  • Tour Guide/Translator, English guided trip with a mother tongue Russian guide
  • Trip-price-Insurance (Sicherungsschein)

Not included:

  • Visa Service (additional fees, can be organized by SMS Frankfurt)
  • Consul fees
  • Flights
  • Health-Insurance, required
  • Personnel Incurance

Dates:
Departure mid June from Moscow, Russia.

Optional we create your individual train trip along the Transsiberian Railroad even longer or shorter. Just send us your details and we create your tailormade Russian Train Adventure, one of the last Bucketlist Trips.

Your Request

Make a tour request here or call us +49-69-95 90 97 00!!!

Facts about the Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR, Russian: Транссиби́рская магистра́ль, tr. Transsibirskaya Magistral; IPA: [trənsʲsʲɪˈbʲirskəjə məgʲɪˈstralʲ]) is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East. With a length of 9,289 kilometres (5,772 miles), it is the longest railway line in the world. There are connecting branch lines into Mongolia, China and North Korea. It has connected Moscow with Vladivostok since 1916, and is still being expanded.

It was built between 1891 and 1916 under the supervision of Russian government ministers personally appointed by Tsar Alexander III and his son, the Tsarevich Nicholas (later Tsar Nicholas II). Even before it had been completed, it attracted travellers who wrote of their adventures.

The railway is often associated with the main transcontinental Russian line that connects hundreds of large and small cities of the European and Asian parts of Russia. At a Moscow-Vladivostok track length of 9,289 kilometres (5,772 miles), it spans a record eight time zones. Taking eight days to complete the journey, it is the third-longest single continuous service in the world, after the Moscow–Pyongyang 10,267 kilometres (6,380 mi) and the Kiev–Vladivostok 11,085 kilometres (6,888 mi) services, both of which also follow the Trans-Siberian for much of their routes.

The main route of the Trans-Siberian Railway begins in Moscow at Yaroslavsky Vokzal, runs through Yaroslavl, Chelyabinsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita, and Khabarovsk to Vladivostok via southern Siberia. A second primary route is the Trans-Manchurian, which coincides with the Trans-Siberian east of Chita as far as Tarskaya (a stop 12 km (7 mi) east of Karymskoye, in Chita Oblast), about 1,000 km (621 mi) east of Lake Baikal. From Tarskaya the Trans-Manchurian heads southeast, via Harbin and Mudanjiang in China’s Northeastern Provinces (from where a connection to Beijing is used by one of the Moscow–Beijing trains), joining with the main route in Ussuriysk just north of Vladivostok. This is the shortest and the oldest railway route to Vladivostok. While there are currently no traverse passenger services (enter China from one side and then exit China and return to Russia on the other side) on this branch, it is still used by several international passenger services between Russia and China.

The third primary route is the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which coincides with the Trans-Siberian as far as Ulan-Ude on Lake Baikal’s eastern shore. From Ulan-Ude the Trans-Mongolian heads south to Ulaan-Baatar before making its way southeast to Beijing. In 1991, a fourth route running further to the north was finally completed, after more than five decades of sporadic work. Known as the Baikal Amur Mainline (BAM), this recent extension departs from the Trans-Siberian line at Taishet several hundred miles west of Lake Baikal and passes the lake at its northernmost extremity. It crosses the Amur River at Komsomolsk-na-Amure (north of Khabarovsk), and reaches the Tatar Strait at Sovetskaya Gavan. On 13 October 2011, a train from Khasan made its inaugural run to Rajin, North Korea.

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LARGEST VODKA TRAIN – MOSCOW TO BEIJING

The original Vodka Train – largest international group on Trans-Siberian Train.

Three weeks, twelve nations – The most exciting active tour of the summer 2010 
the “Largest Vodka Train Tour“ – From Russia to Mongolia and China completed

  • Moscow, August 20th 2010 – From June twelve to 30th almost 100 adventure and sports enthusiasts from twelve countries were on their way by train, by foot, bus and ferry – at the Vodka Train Tour 2010. This summer offer included among other things a boat party on the Moscow River, cross country running along the Eurasian border, a bath in icy Lake Baikal and a stay in exclusive Mongolian yurts. It was the largest organized cultural, sports and event tour of Vodkatrain-Travel.
  • Start for all participants, coming from Australia, Barbados, China, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, the USA and more countries, was Moscow – on 20th anniversary of Russia’s independence. With a boat party on the Moskva River the organizers rang a unique, challenging and inspiring journey for the international participants. At the first stage they took the Trans-Siberian railway via Kazan to Yekaterinburg and the “border of Eurasia”. Sightseeing and cross-country races were program at each station. Fun and sport mated the euphoric participants from all over the world, also at a picnic in the Eurasian border, when half of the group at the European, the other half on Asian terrain drank on each ones health.
  • Irkutsk was the next exciting stop on the Vodka Train Tour. From here the international travelers took a two-day break after the journey along the historic Trans-Sib route on Lake Baikal. Hardly any of the participants went swimming in seven degrees cold lake, which is known as a rejuvenating spa. A ferry brought the group to the island of Olkhon for another cross-country run and accommodation in traditional wooden huts and with folklore in the evening.
  • Back to Irkutsk they continued with the train to Mongolia which was a pure cultural experience: unspoiled nature, adventurous cinematic scenes in public trains, cross-country races in a remote monastery and shaman fire dance in the exclusive hotel Mongolia with rooms as Mongolian yurts. 

„The journey was emotionally and physically was the best ever” wrote a participant from Australia to the organizers after her return „You helped make it a trip of a lifetime for me” said another participant and “The Vodka Train was an exciting, enjoyable and memorable holiday/adventure. It was everything and more than what we were expecting…”.
  • The final stage was Mongolia to China. The cosmopolitan group was not only in the Gobi desert, they also took fascinating pictures of the Hanging Monastery in Datong and the surrounding caves.
    The farewell, after a walk on the Great Wall, was not easy after three weeks. Some enthusiasts of the Vodka Train Tour 2010, already planned a revival meeting after their return home where they will surely talk a lot about this tour.
    “The journey was emotionally and physically the best ever” wrote a participant from Australia to the organizer Jürgen Schreiter from SMS Frankfurt Incentives (Vodka Train Tours) after her return „You helped make it a trip of a lifetime for me” said another participant and “the Vodka Train was an exciting, enjoyable and memorable holiday/adventure. It was everything and more than what we were expecting…”.
  • More about the largest Vodka Train Adventure you find on Twitter, Facebook or as a free download on iTunes. 
More photos in printformat (for press), or video trailer of this and other tours we can send to you on request.
  • Visit also our general Incentive Agency at www.Incentives-Worldwide.com

Background:
Vodkatrain.biz by SMS Frankfurt organizes unusual tours and adventures for groups, individuals and corporate incentives with a personal touch and spezial care.
Find out more about our Adventure Trips, cultural events and incentives such as the Vodka Train tour with swimming at Lake Baikal and trekking in the Gobi Desert or Heli-Skiing in Kamtchatka and Safari Rally events in Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East at www.incentives-worldwide.com.

Company contact:
Jürgen Schreiter, CEO – SMS FRANKFURT GROUP
Burgfriedenstrasse 17
60489 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Phone: +49-69-95 90 97 00
www.SMS-Frankfurt.com

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