Friday, July 31, 2009

Marcel Theroux's Russian train adventure (Part two)

Marcel Theroux's Russian train adventure (Part two)

Video link here.


James Higham said...

That's a long, long journey, John, especially with someone who snores. :)

Bill said...

I did the 'International Train' from Beijing to Moscow in 1983 (in the Chinese rather than the Russian train - I had been told by friends that although the Chinese used older rolling-stock, they kept the sleeping carriages cleaner and the attendants were nicer) and thoroughly enjoyed it as I met so many interesting people. I was travelling 'luxury' class so travelled in moderate comfort, but nothing comparable to what I have experienced in western countries at that time in 'luxury'-type accommodation. The journey took 5 and a half days. After a few days in Moscow I continued on the Moscow-Hook of Holland train (2 days), thence ferry to Harwich and train to London. In all, my journey from Hong Kong (where I lived at the time) to London took exactly 14 days. Marvellously eye-opening on a number of occasions! Similarly with the much shorter train journey (36 hours) from Athens to Istanbul I did a few years earlier - the people one met made the journey memorable, as did the 'politics' and difficulty of travelling between those two countries on a 'through carriage'.

Louis Theroux is good and I prefer him to Michael Palin, possibly as I've done a number of the same type of journeys as the latter so possibly enjoy Theroux more because his 'take' on things he sees and people he meets is often so novel. They're not simple travelogues, which is what Palin does so well admittedly.

James Higham said...

Yes, have to agree about Palin. I like him, as an old Python fan but Theroux does do it better and as you say, his take seems more identifiable with.

That journey would have been magnificent and you're right about the Russian service. The Russians have [or had] little concept of good service. Having said that, there are trains and trains.

The Tatarstan train is good and the service can match it but some of the others are appalling - cheaper though.

That journey you describe does stay with you all your life. I've had jsut a few of this type and they are indelible.