Postcard Bloggers 2015 with Clare Devine

I'm so happy to host today's Postcard Blogger - Clare Devine of Yarn and Pointy Sticks.  Clare has included some great resources for planning your train travel world wide which has got me itching to book something!

Tune in next week for Maria of Subway Knits and remember you can find all the blog hop participants by following the hashtag #postcardbloggers2015 

The Journey is the Destination. 

Journey is the destination

After a year of travelling and working in Australia I was headed back to South Africa. As always I was keen to turn the return journey into an adventure and decided to try and travel home the long way round, travelling overland as much as possible. My chosen method of overland travel, if given the option, is always the train. I love train travel, there is something about feeling connected with the land as you watch the changing scenery from the comfort of your train seat. 

I’ve always had a soft spot for train travel but it was really cemented when we travelled through the red centre on our way from Darwin to Adelaide. Watching the sunrise over one of the most spectacular landscapes I have ever seen is a memory I will never forget. 

view from the Ghan- The Red Centre

view from the Ghan- The Red Centre

We plotted and planned our journey across Asia and into Europe, spending many hours gazing at our trusty map, following the piece of yarn I had carefully pinned along our proposed route. 

Map with Yarn

We had planned to take the Reunification Express from Saigon to Hanoi but due to some visa issues we ended up with a slight detour to Thailand and a flight to Hanoi instead. Our train journey then began in earnest with a trip from Hanoi to Beijing. After a few days in Beijing, and a lovely long walk along the Great Wall, we set out on our epic six days journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway towards Moscow.  

Six days of train travel may not be everyone’s cup of tea but for me it was pure magic. 

Beijing to Moscow

Beijing to Moscow

People watching is always excellent for getting a sense of somewhere new, and this train journey didn’t disappoint. As we left Beijing the train was packed with migrant workers, they gradually left the train and were replaced by traders returning to Mongolia laden with all sorts of interesting parcels and packages. The leg through Siberia was much quieter and our carriage was virtually empty, save for a few backpackers. Stops were characterised by a myriad of officials and station staff, especially at border crossings, traders on the platforms and locals going about their daily business; each moment offering me a snapshot of the world as we trundled along. 

Trundling through China

Trundling through China

The rhythm of the day was filled with random tasks, mainly filling water from the samovar and making tea. The soothing clack of the train on the track and gentle rocking motion was perfect for gazing out of the window and watching the world go by. Then of course there was knitting – trains are perfect for knitting. On this journey I had space and oodles of time. I read, knitted and watched the world go by for six blissful days. 

Watching the world go by

Watching the world go by

Besides the knitting one of my favourite parts of the journey was the dining car. As we travelled through each country the dining car changed, and so with it the food and the staff. This fascinated me and far from what you might expect on a long distance train this food was pretty decent. The Mongolian dining car was a sight to behold, gilt and velvet, with rich meat dishes to match. My favourite though was the Russian car and endless Borscht that warmed us as we travelled through the frozen Siberian landscape. 

The Mongolian Steppe from the train

The Mongolian Steppe from the train

And with each stop their was wonderful local produce to sample including at one station a fantastic haul of smoked fish and the best dark rye bread I’ve ever eaten. 

Supplies for the journey

Supplies for the journey

The Siberian leg was long, snowy and involved a few very chilly ‘showers’ with a small flask of warm water and an icy blast blowing up through the drainage hole in the floor (I am not usually one for travelling in luxurious style, and this train journey was no exception). 

Nonetheless it was magical and I spent many hours gazing out across the frozen landscape as I knitted thinking about what life must be like in the tiny villages we passed. The joy of this type of travel is the time you have to think … 

Snowy Siberia

Snowy Siberia

And, for me, nothing beats a magical sunset from the window of a train. 

Sunset from the train

Sunset from the train

Has this stoked your wanderlust, fancy embarking on a long train journey of your own? 

What about one of these adventures for your bucket list.  

Journey inspiration

-  Tran-Siberian Beijing to Moscow a respectable 4,735 miles, taking in 3 countries over 6 glorious days.

- Saigon to Hanoi 1072 miles, 30 hours with many fantastic stops along the way.

-  Johannesburg to Cape Town 956 miles and 26 hours. You can travel for very little on the Shosholoza Meyl or in luxury on the ‘Blue Train’. I know you can fly in a matter of hours but watching the changing landscape of a country is magical. 

- Retrace the old Orient Express route from Paris to Istanbul. It no longer runs in it’s original format but your could string a series of train journeys together. This is at the very top of my bucket list!

-  I fell in love with the Canadian Rockies last year and would dearly love to return and travel through Canada by train. Embark on the trip of a lifetime from Vancouver to Toronto, an epic 2775 miles. 

There are some magical journeys across Europe, the United States of America and Australia too. In all honesty the bucket list of dream train journeys could go on and on! 

If you're thinking of planning a trip, be sure to check out Seat 61, this is a fantastic resource for train travel across the globe.