While the expanded 2013 schedule for air service between Anchorage, Alaska and Petropavolsk, in Russia’s Far East, is exciting, the thought of continuing on to mainland Russia is even more thrilling. Same-day flight service will continue to Khabarovsk, a picturesque river city on the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers. It’s only a short three-hour hop beyond Petropavlovsk.
Why Khabarovsk? Khabarovsk is the second largest city (after Vladivostok) in Russia’s Far East and is the administrative center for the Khabarovsk Krai. Located just 19 miles from the Chinese border, Khabarovsk has long been a tourist destination for both Russians and foreigners alike.
Once there, spend your days taking in the city’s cultural offerings, such as museums – more than sixty at last count – and the historic waterfront, or browse through shops offering everything from handcrafts made by the Amur Region’s indigenous peoples to jewelry adorned with native rocks, including purple-hued Chaorite.
Overlooking the Amur River, the city’s waterfront park, featuring many shops and restaurants, is a popular place for a leisurely stroll. Photo: JATM
While Khabarovsk is a complete destination by itself, one its main draws is easy access to the Tran-Siberian Railway. Considered the longest railroad in the world; from end-to-end, the rail stretches almost 6,000 miles and passes through seven time zones. A modern train station provides an entry point to the iconic ride as it makes its leisurely way west toward Irkutsk and Moscow.
What’s the Trans-Siberian Railway like? The best advice we can offer about a ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway: it’s the kind of travel that is as much about the journey as it is about the views, which alternate between rural Old Believer villages and less industrious urban areas interrupted by rolling hills, scenic pastures, panoramic vistas, and surging rivers.
Travelers can enjoy stopovers in many Russian towns and cities, including Ulan-Ude, capital of Buryatia Republic, the most important center of Buddhism in Russia. Photo: Selenga River, Ulan Ude, Courtesy of Cathleen Calkins
You will have a chance to uncover the splendid landscapes along the Lake Baikal. Photo: Lake Baikal, Courtesy of Cathleen Calkins
But Russia’s famous landscape isn’t the only incentive to purchase a ticket on the Trans Siberian this summer: It’s the people.
You’ll encounter Russian culture up close – from the first moment you step across the threshold of the train car. You’ll have experiences that are common for the average Russian but a luxurious thrill for you, the traveler. Enjoy a cup of Russian chai, or tea, from your car’s samovar. Share in communal meals with other train travelers, including home-made pirozhki, an Eastern European stuffed pastry, purchased from local vendors during brief train stops. Learn a bit of Russian as you get to know your fellow passengers. And, if you’re up for it, at least once toast ‘Na Zdorovie,’ or ‘to good health,’ over a shot of vodka.
To learn more about Khabarovsk and/or to enlist help planning your Trans Siberian Railway adventure, click here.