The ’Stans by rail

This item appears on page 29 of the November 2010 issue.
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“The Legendary Silk Road by Private Train,” offered by Lernidee Erlebnisreisen GmbH (Eisenacher Str. 11, D-10777 Berlin, Germany; phone+49 [30] 786 00 00, www.lernidee.com), was the first group tour my wife and I took that had no other native-born English speakers.

We traveled Oct. 13-26, 2009, and chose that departure because Lernidee promised an English-speaking guide. Only four of us on the 45-person tour spoke no German, but, as advertised, Lernidee flew in a guide, a delightful Russian woman, who spoke excellent English and German and, of course, Russian.

As it turned out, a number of the German-speaking tour members spoke English, and we had many interesting discussions with them concerning world politics, finances and universal health care. In addition, the tour manager had lived in New York for eight years.

The tour started in Turkmenistan and also visited Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The land cost depended on the category chosen for sleeping and bath facilities on the train: Category one, €1,905 (about $2,569) per person, and Category four, €5,750 ($7,758). My wife and I were in Category two, at €2,730 ($4,250) each, and found it to be very satisfactory in terms of comfort and cleanliness.

The train was leased from the Russian railroad system and included an all-Russian crew. We spent eight nights on board and five in first-class hotels along the way. Most of the 4,200 kilometers covered by the train on this tour were traversed at night.

About half of our meals were served on board, and they were excellent. The balance of the meals were in hotels and restaurants and featured regional specialties.

The tour, itself, was excellent. We visited seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the capitals of the three countries. We dined accompanied by music and folkloric dancing and also visited an emir’s summer palace and an artist’s courtyard, not to mention an Uzbek family and their neighbors in a Tien Shan mountain village.

BILL SILVER

San Rafael, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

“The Legendary Silk Road by Private Train,” offered by Lernidee Erlebnisreisen GmbH (Eisenacher Str. 11, D-10777 Berlin, Germany; phone+49 [30] 786 00 00, www.lernidee.com), was the first group tour my wife and I took that had no other native-born English speakers.

We traveled Oct. 13-26, 2009, and chose that departure because Lernidee promised an English-speaking guide. Only four of us on the 45-person tour spoke no German, but, as advertised, Lernidee flew in a guide, a delightful Russian woman, who spoke excellent English and German and, of course, Russian.

As it turned out, a number of the German-speaking tour members spoke English, and we had many interesting discussions with them concerning world politics, finances and universal health care. In addition, the tour manager had lived in New York for eight years.

The tour started in Turkmenistan and also visited Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The land cost depended on the category chosen for sleeping and bath facilities on the train: Category one, €1,905 (about $2,569) per person, and Category four, €5,750 ($7,758). My wife and I were in Category two, at €2,730 ($4,250) each, and found it to be very satisfactory in terms of comfort and cleanliness.

The train was leased from the Russian railroad system and included an all-Russian crew. We spent eight nights on board and five in first-class hotels along the way. Most of the 4,200 kilometers covered by the train on this tour were traversed at night.

About half of our meals were served on board, and they were excellent. The balance of the meals were in hotels and restaurants and featured regional specialties.

The tour, itself, was excellent. We visited seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the capitals of the three countries. We dined accompanied by music and folkloric dancing and also visited an emir’s summer palace and an artist’s courtyard, not to mention an Uzbek family and their neighbors in a Tien Shan mountain village.

BILL SILVER

San Rafael, CA