All Aboard!

by Jay Brunhouse (Third of three parts)

By the clock, Wednesday was 26 hours long. Thursday was 25. Friday was 26 again as we entered the Moscow time zone. Our Zarengold Tran-Siberian private train had become a rolling time machine as we day by day set our watches back through six time zones from Irkutsk to Moscow. It was a wonderful thing. We stayed up late, got up early and still had extra sleep.

Leaving Siberia’s Lake Baikal, the Zarengold had passed through the...


by Jay Brunhouse (Second of three parts)

After a long, dreamless sleep in my compartment, I parted my curtains and let out a cry of joy to see the peaceful expanse of Lake Baikal, the Pearl of Siberia, the world’s largest sweet-water lake, stretching out of sight.

Fallen green needles and autumn leaves covered the earth with golds and reds, and, brimmed by rose-colored granite cliffs, Baikal appeared like a pool of liquid slate, a wide saucer leaden in the morning chill. A...


by Jay Brunhouse (First of three parts)

Eighteen days before departure, I received a brief e-mail with 22 lengthy, separate attachments from Lernidee Tours in Berlin. I was staggered.

The package, when downloaded and printed, presented me with 29 glorious pages to study. All were in English except for the sample Russian visa application, which was in German.

I savored the sample Chinese entry form, the Mongolian entry and exit forms, the Russian entry and exit forms as...


Eurail announced new railpass benefits for 2010. This year, you can receive discounts…

1. on Finnlines ferries ( in Finland, Poland, Germany and Sweden,

2. on Norfolkline ferries between Ireland and England,

3. at HINI youth hostels in Northern Ireland and

4. of 15% on MP3 City Guides from All Audio Guides.

Trivial, it sounds. But it reminds us that railpasses sometimes come with a long list of popular included bonuses, such as the free...


You are well above the timberline far north, running along the stark, clear-aired, snow-pocked edge of Norway’s Hardanger Plateau. Any speck of color seems to be out of place. Just before your train stops at Myrdal, you look to your right and see the browns and greens of the mountain walls of a grand canyon of a rift. You gasp at the sight many hundreds of feet down the temperate Flåm Valley.

At Myrdal Station, dominated by a mountain with icy whiskers of frozen waterfalls, you don...


For my July 2000 column, I taxied into Bangkok from the old Don Muang Airport to cover the city’s Skytrain elevated railroad network, which had opened on Dec. 5, 1999. Along the way I asked the driver when the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport and the new airport train would be completed. “Maybe five years,” he guessed.

At a buffet luncheon in the Shangri-La Hotel’s Coffee Garden restaurant, I asked Rashana, my Shangri-La hostess, the same question. She told me the government...


by Jay Brunhouse

On May 9, 2009, I started to follow the Red Brick Road in Rostock, on Germany’s Baltic seacoast, which I reached by an easy 2½-hour Regional Express train ride from the deep subterranean north-south tracks of Berlin’s new Hauptbahnhof.

The Red Brick Road took me through cities that hark back to the Middle Ages, with towering Brick Gothic structures confirming the prosperity of the cities. I visited three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and admired majestic Brick...


by Jay Brunhouse

On its morning departure, your Norwegian State Railways (NSB) Class 73 tilting train to Trondheim first passes through Oslo’s growing suburbs and the tunnel emerging into Oslo’s 1998 Gardermoen Airport. You continue through rich farmlands and then up the western shore of Lake Mjøsa. It is Norway’s largest and is deeper than the North Sea.

On the lake, you see the one-funnel, side-wheel steamship P.S. Skibladner (say “Shebladner”), the world’s oldest paddle...