Last few weeks we were booking things for the journey. Still much is left though. For now we already have PEK - WAW flight back from Beijing to Warsaw. Recently, we also booked tickets for a flight Kaliningrad Khrabrovo Airport - Moscow Domodedovo Airport (KGD - DME) for as little as 3800 RUB / 340 PLN / 80 EUR via Russian national S7 line. Prices usually range from 180 EUR and up if you check on SkyScanner or Tripsta so it's worth taking the time to book via s7.ru where one can also get additional 23 kg for baggage free of charge. It's also worthwhile to check flight prices via Polish esky.plwhich scans prices from different operators and can help you choose the cheapest one. To get to Kaliningrad we'll be travelling from Gdansk by bus early in the morning on the day of the departure. After arriving at DME we plan to use Aeroexpress train to transfer us to the city center at the cost of around 240 RUB / 30 PLN / 7.5 EUR.
Apart from ways to travel, another thing is where to sleep and we are beginning to sort things out here. Up til now we have accommodation in Beijing in a great location - around 30 min from the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven and Wanfujing Street with famous food stalls serving a wide variety of common and exotic street food. We'll get to China in the first days of September and I managed to find last four-person private for around 82 CNY / 40 PLN / 10 EUR per person in Lucky Family Hostel. If you want to book a room in a good location and in a recommended hostel - book well in advance. This one is quite cheap is you consider there is a breakfast included. I've used HostelBookers.com to make the reservation - you make a 12% downpayment on your reservation (no booking fees). You can also check HostelWorld.com. We will see if the reviews match our impression of the place.
We are in the process of getting the visa process up and running. When starting the journey from Poland and there are several options on how to get to Moscow where Trans-Siberian railway starts. Few most popular are: direct flights from Warsaw to Moscow, an Intercity train "Polonez" from Warsaw through Belarus and a flight from Kaliningrad (ru. Калининград) to Moscow. First and last option does not require to buy additional transit visa for Belarus which is required on "Polonez". Our choice will be taking a flight from Kaliningrad.
This sorted out we have two options - arrange visas ourselves or via travel agency. Due to lack of time to do the paperwork ourselves we've chosen the latter. For our case the cost of assistance for 12 visas (3x 4 ppl) was around 62 PLN / 15 EUR per visa per person (via EYAND TRAVEL).
Some may say that it would be cheaper to do it yourself - go from consulate to consulate and get things done. You would certainly be right. Remember though not to overestimate the process. It is fairly easy but requires lot of paperwork and visas tend to be rejected due to some minor things. Every consulate is different in this matter and this might change every few years when a new Consul takes the post. If you have the time and easy access to all embassies then go for it - in Poland Warsaw is the sweet spot.
You can start arranging your visas few months before the departure and give the dates for which they should be valid. It's advisable not to do it not later then a month before the journey - it gives you a bit of slack if something goes wrong e.g. your application gets rejected.
Each country (Russia, Mongolia, China) has it's specific visa policy:
Russia - 14, 30 days tourist viasas or transit (10 days). These can be issued as a single, double or multiple entries. Citizens of the EU countries need to provide an insurance policy for the whole period of stay in Russia while applying for a visa (at least 30 000 € in coverage). For our journey a single entry 14 day visa is enough as we won't be travelling back the same way and won't need to cross the border again. If you want to obtain visa yourself and check conditions go to visa.kdmid.ru
Mongolia - various options here from 5 day visa to a 30 day one. After setting the journey plan we decided to go with a 5 day visa as our stay won't be longer. Although it is always good to have some overlap with your plans. Guys who were sorting visas for us recommended +/- two days of safety margin. Edit: Beginning July 1st 2014, Polish and other EU citizens can enter Mongolia for touristic and business purposes without a visa for up to 30 days.If you are not an EU national and / or want to obtain a longer visa go to consuls.net
China - 90 day visa is provided as a standard option so we've went with this one. You have to have a proof (a ticket / reservation) for entry and departure from China either via train / plane / bus or other. To obtain the visa yourself and check the conditions that apply to your country go to china-embassy.org
Of course there are also other types of visas and the above is not a comprehensive list but for purpose of our travel I've chosen the most relevant options. Prices vary from agency to agency. We've found possibly the best option for all three visas at a price of 719 PLN / 174 EUR per person (if travelling in a group of four) from the above mentioned EYAND TRAVEL with main office in Berlin. Their website is available in Polish and German. Probably they also support customers with English.
Alex Chacón had an idea of travelling the world which has took him 600 days during which he visited 36+ countries. I was over three years for the GoPro movie to happen. As the author states himself about the production: "an amazing summary of some of the most epic sights, places and people on planet earth in a new and creative way never captured before.". Alex on his website dedicated to his journeys states he is an adventure rider, public speaker, professional photographer, videographer and presenter. His most famous expedition to date has been a 500 day solo round trip from Alaska to Argentina in 500 days raising money for the orphanage, Los Ojos de Dios in Cd. Juarez Mexico and the Children of Uganda in Africa.
That was a foggy day and we were both tired and exhilarated after trekking from Pieniny, snowboarding in Szczawnica and were looking to settle down with a pint or two. Still, there was one more mountain to conquer and we were on route towards "Pod Beresnikiem" shelter in the mountain range of Beskid Sadecki. We were mostly walking in a kind of nothingness as we could see very little due to the weather conditions. It was all back in April 2013.
We've bought our first set of tickets for our trip to Beijing - actually the last part of it. Those of you why fly on the budget know that often booking early = booking cheap. That's what we did and reserved our seats for flight Beijing - Warsaw carried out by LOT Polish Airlines aboard Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. It's going to be probably the longest flight we've taken, lasting for 9,5 hours across 7 times-zones and making 6941 km on the way to Poland. Jet lag seems to be inevitable. Next stop - visas and transport to Moscow.
There are few container terminals in Gdynia. This one is based on Bulgarian Embankement and is led by GCT - Gdynia Container Terminal S.A. company. On the opposite embankment is where the Stena Line stations servicing the route Gdynia - Karlskrona. The photo was taken from underneath the Kwiatkowskiego street which goes above the port level.
It all started as a spontaneous thought and a part of a dream. And so it happened.. After fruitful discussions, reading through few blogs, books and websites a new project called "Trans-Siberian Expedition 2014" (ru. Транссиб экспедиция) has started. Together with few friends we are going to travel across Russia, Mongolia and China (Beijing) by train and learn the local cultures, customs as well as visit interesting venues / sights (the part of the route called Trans-Mongolian). All starting in August this year. More information will be coming as the project is unveiled. To get to know about the railway itself visit wikipedia page.
Edit: Future posts and Instagram photos about Trans-Siberian Expedition 2014 are going to be tagged #transsib2014
An old advert from the manufacturer of outside window blinds, upholsterer and decorator can be seen on the top of Portobelo Road, Notting Hill, London. The company was established in 1851. I was not able to find any history on this firm on the Internet but the ad still remains despite the years passed.