We have many strange requests for adding in destinations along the Trans Siberian Railway. Often a customer will look at a map and decide that somewhere like Tomsk for instance, is a place roughly intersecting the railway and worthy of a stop. Even though Tomsk isn’t exactly on the map, we can arrange train tickets. Another place was Oryol.
Oryol or Orel (Орёл) which translates as eagle is a city on the Oka River around 220 miles southwest of Moscow.
Although not on the Trans-Siberian Railway, if the railways run there, we are happy to customise and trip to fit in particular requests. Below is the feedback from a trip two of our customers made to ‘eagle, which is the symbol of Russia by the way, in spring of 2013.
Orel was a very different experience to all our stops in Russia. Listvyanka was very picturesque and Irkutsk was unique with its wooden architecture & Decembrist history while Moscow &St Petersburg were both amazing cities to visit (visually, culturally & historically) . Orel was more a personal visit & allowed us to experience the real Russia ….. we managed to find the place where Mick’s mother grew up but only to find an apartment block had replaced her house. Still worth seeing as we very welcomed by total strangers in our quest to find her house. The hotel there also a bit luxurious for us but as it had been so cold we enjoyed the facilities ESP sauna!! We loved walking around the town and getting the feel of local Russian community … Turgenev’ house & museum was a highlight…. We saw infrastructure that dated back to the start of the century ( original trams were still running since1914!!) & soviet inspired architecture from after WWII. Also post 1990 capitalist influence – Orel’s own unique version of Maccas not found anywhere else in Russia… Apparently!
The river was frozen of course and we watched people playing hockey in the ice and people fishing through holes in the ice. The fish/fresh food/ clothing market alongside the river on the Sunday …… Just letting you know we saw an everyday community going about its normal routine.
The only drawback for western tourists would be less English is spoken here – however in hotels/restaurants you would be ok as there is always someone that speaks English. Young Russians are keen to speak English as we found out in the supermarket …. They all wanted to know why we were in Orel of all places! (Mick was an oddity as they hadn’t experienced a western tourist speaking Russian!)
It was a highlight of the trip to spend time communicating with everyday people rather than the hundreds of service industry people.
On our last day in Orel, a previously encountered young man who had helped us with our venture to find Mick’s mothers house, went out of his way when he saw us in the main street to present us with a specially minted rouble commemorating Orel & the war! 1945.
Overall, as you might have guessed….. Very glad to have made the trip to Russia & thoroughly enjoyed the Trans Siberian part of the journey – the snow added to the atmosphere of the journey too! Each time we rejoined the train after our stops it was a different journey due to the different types of train – the Belorus train from Irkutsk to Moscow was excellent…. Staff were excellent & very helpful!
The group we travelled with from Beijing to Mongolia were great – We think the ger was the highlight of Mongolia too!