Photo: Courtesy of Melody Serafino
For some people, a week off work means relaxing by a pool somewhere warm. For Melody Serafino, a 29-year-old media relations director from New York City, it means sleeping in cramped quarters with two friends on Russia’s notorious Trans-Siberian Railway.”We were all low-maintenance/like-minded travellers,” Serafino told us in an email. “We didn’t even want to kill each other by the end!”
Serafino, an avid traveller, has camped in the Serengeti Plains, dune-bashed in Doha, and climbed the Great Pyramid in Egypt.
This past summer, she joined her friend Steve and another acquaintance on a two-week adventure from Beijing to Moscow along the Trans-Siberian Railway, spending some additional time in those two cities and in Ulan Bator.
In total, Serafino and her friends spent four-and-a-half days on board the antiquated train, travelling some 6,200 miles. The trip cost a total of $3,650, including plane and train tickets, and accommodations.
“The best part of this trip was meeting fellow travellers on the train,” Serafino told us. “We met so many people from so many different countries who, in some cases, had been travelling around the world for months. Sharing stories and spending time with them made the 4.5 days on the train from Mongolia to Moscow fly by.”
After meeting her friends, she explored the Forbidden City, Great Wall of China, and Lama Temple. Here's her classic photo of the Great Wall.
Finally, it was time to board the train. The 6,200-mile railway, which is the world's longest, was inaugurated by future Czar Nicholas II in 1890.
By far the most expensive part of the trip was the plane ticket, which cost around $2,000. The train ticket cost around $1,000, and the rest of Serafino's budget went to food and local accommodations in Beijing and Moscow.
The train had a dining car, but it was expensive, so Serafino and her buddies ate lots of instant noodle soup and snacks.
Serafino and her friends disembarked in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, where they spent a night.
They explored the city's Buddhist temples and ate dinner at Veranda, a high-end restaurant in the city.
The next day they hired a driver to take them to the massive Genghis Khan equestrian statue on the banks of the Tuul River. The group departed for the second leg of their trip, from Ulan Bator to Moscow, in the afternoon.
For the next three days Serafino and her friends rode through rural Russia, making 20-minute stops ever 4 to 5 hours. Along the way they passed clusters of yurts.
Serafino and her friends checked into their Airbnb apartment and hit the city. They visited the Cathedral of Christ the saviour , Pushkin Square, and had dinner at Mari Vanna.
Serafino found some classic Russian souvenirs at the market, but said that her real souvenirs were the stories of the places she visited and people she met.
The second day in Moscow was jam-packed as well. Serafino and her friends visited Saint Basil's Cathedral, known for its colourful architecture.
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