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Dr. Andrew L.A. Johnson

1) My tickets were not available when I arrived at the Izmailovo Hotel in Moscow. I tried phoning the various numbers for the SW office but didnn't get any assistance. Although I don't think it was her job, Julia Barkhatova came to my rescue and the tickets eventually turned up in time for me to have a brief walk round central Moscow before heading for Yaroslavsky station. It would have been nice to have a bit more time and less bother.

2) As I think you know (from my text message from Siberia!) I needed a visa to get into Mongolia. One of the guards on the train assured me that I would be able to get one at the border and so it proved. It was actually cheaper than if I had obtained one in England but I would have preferred not to have this additional hassle. It seems to be only Americans that are exempt! I see you now include a Mongolian visa in the list of necessities for the Moscow-Beijing route.

3) Charging my digital camera battery on the train was no problem but it proved impossible to charge my phone (and others had problems charging a laptop battery). I guess this must be something to do with the voltage - not something you can fix but maybe worth advising clients.

4) Your website says that Partizanskaya (for the Izmailovo Hotel) is NW from Moscow centre on the dark blue line - it's NE on the map! You might advise clients to learn the Russian alphabet and count stops (both of which I did) so that the relevant stop can be identified in Cyrillic script and so that one knows when to get off in the absence of any sign at all!

5) I had understood that breakfast was not included at the hotel but the staff insisted otherwise, so I took full advantage!

6) The train seemed to make quite a detour on a branch line so that we got a superb view of the Great Wall. This wasn't mentioned in my Lonely Planet guide (an old version perhaps) and you might wish to include it in your publicity.

Attached, happy traveller!
Yours, Andy Johnson

Dr Andrew L.A. Johnson
Geography, Earth, Environment and Sport
School of Science
Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences
University of Derby
Kedleston Road
Derby DE22 1GB, U.K.

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