Thursday, November 15, 2007

Virtual Vancation

Thanksgiving is surely upon us when friends and coworkers scatter to the winds to spend time with family and friends. I will remain close to the homestead this holiday but dearly wish that I were taking a vacation instead. In the van this morning, I was thinking about all the places other than work that I would rather be going.

When I got to work I started pricing airfare to Ireland. After a glass of water to recover from the shock of the king's ransom I would have to shell out to get to and around the Green Isle, I started thinking about other interesting (read: cheap) places to visit.

What about Russia? How many people do you know that have been to Russia? Maybe I could get in on the ground floor of a hip new destination spot. After all, Russia is just a $647 ticket, a 16-hour plane ride and a layover in Frankfurt away.

So I started researching all that Mother Russia has to offer.


You can go to Moscow. Or St. Petersburg. Or, I mention Moscow? I read that the weather ranges from "Subarctic to Tundra."

Then I stumbled upon what appears to be the most physically draining, mentally taxing, spirit crushing, teeth gnashing, (you get the idea) experience of a lifetime. A chance to ride the infernal beast of a machine that spans "Eight time zones, territories of 14 provinces, 3 regions, 2 republics and one autonomous region of the Russian Federation [and] the 16 greatest Eurasian rivers": the Trans Siberian Express.

The final detail about the Mother of All Trains, neither damning nor praising, is simply this:

This journey, which lasts about a week,

won't leave you indifferent.

I cannot possibly imagine what awaits a tourist for an experience that would feature this as a tagline. And it makes me want to buy a ticket even more to endure each of the 9,288 kilometers from Moscow to Vladivostok.

I spent a few minutes visualizing myself aboard the Trans-Sib (as it's called) looking past grimy windows barreling through the Ural Mountains as I shiver beneath layers of clothing with only a ratty Dostoevsky paperback and tepid gruel to sustain me.

Now that's a vacation.

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