Moscow will amaze you, its palaces and public buildings restored to their former glory. The echoing vastness of Red Square, the splendid twirled cupolas of St Basil's across the cobblestones, and the Kremlin itself - that fabled palace-fort of gilded domes where the exquisite collection of royal treasures is housed. We learn from the masters how to make the iconic Matryoshka dolls and visit a Russian family for a tea tasting experience. In our spare time we have time to visit the underground metro with chandeliers, mosaics and baroque bas-relief and perhaps a river cruise or a magical evening at one of Moscow's great theatres or State Circus.
We join the Trans Siberian Express and travel via Ekaterinburg, Omsk and Novosibirsk, booming over the steel bridges spanning Siberia's nerve system of 5,000 rivers. Over the Volga, and on the far side the Ural mountains, the flickering silvers and greens of the birch forests speed past.
On into the heart of Siberia the train arrives almost casually on time. Almost in the centre of Asia lies Irkutsk - 18th century churches, bright painted shutters and log houses decorated with wooden lacework. Modern administrative blocks and soaring bridges reach out across the Angara River in this beautiful town known as the ‘Paris of Siberia'. From Irkutsk we travel to a nearby village for a Buryat Shaman experience - giving us a great insight into the local culture.
By road through the picturesque Siberian countryside to Lake Baikal which contains one fifth of the world's fresh water and as the worlds largest has dimensions and scale spectacular in every sense. We also visit the village of Listvyanka with its traditional houses, beautiful wooden church and nearby Limnological Museum. Its small port is often lively with a chance to bargain with the locals and try some smoked Omul, the typical fish of the region.
We settle into life on board once more, getting to know our travelling companions. Relax in the comfortable four-berth compartment that is home for the three days and nights it takes to cross eastern Siberia to the once-secret Pacific port of Vladivostok.
Once a top-secret naval base of the Soviet Union, Vladivostok was sealed off from the outside world. Now its doors are open for business and the city is booming as Russia's gateway to the Far East. For 100 years this has been the legendary eastern terminus of the Trans Siberian Railway, its historic railway station recently restored to its former grandeur. Discover the city and port at the end of this incredible journey; a brilliant and unforgettable experience along one of the world's greatest rail journeys.