Wanderlust Wendy

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Trans-Siberian Journey Part 8 – 3 Days in Kazan

Journey to Kazan Our train left for Kazan from Yekaterinburg early in the morning. The 13-hour journey was our first non-overnight train. I relished in this time to do some good old-fashioned reading without the distraction of Internet. I read Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and completed Hillbilly Elegy in one sitting. I cannot remember the last time I read a book cover-to-cover in one sitting!  We shared our second-class cabin with a mom and her toddler. The kid was surprisingly well-behaved for the entire journey, and we witnessed first-hand what traveling with kids could be like – it’s not that bad!  We arrived in Kazan late in the night, and checked into our Hostel at Geography Hostel Kazan. The dates that we were in Kazan was right before the Brazil-Belgium quarter-final for the World Cup, and hotels were all sold out. The only thing we could afford were…

Trans-Siberian Journey Part 7 – 24 hours in Yekaterinburg

During my planning, I had read that Yekaterinburg is a good stop point to break up the Trans-Siberian route, but that it was an industrial city not worth lingering. I took that silly advice and only allowed for less than 24 hours in this lovely city.  If there’s any place that I wish we could stay longer, it’s Yekaterinburg. To maximise time and see as much as we could, we followed the Red Line Tour, which is a self-guided walking tour that the city has planned for tourists to walk on a literal red line around town. It’s brilliant, and I wish more cities would have something similar!  It was a hot summer day. After lugging our luggages up 4 flights of stairs at our hostel (Hostel R.E.D.), we headed out for our walk. We followed a guide I found online with short description of each place. Following the numbers…

Trans-Siberian Journey Part 6 – Irkutsk to Yekaterinburg

This was the longest leg of our entire train journey, lasting over 48 hours. I splurged on first class for this leg, in order to have the comfort of privacy. We took train #1, the Rossijia. When I was booking tickets, not all the trains had first class. We stayed in Irkutsk for an extra day to be able to catch this train.  The only advantage of first class is the lack of top bunks, which makes quite the difference to have two fewer human bodies when in such a confined space.  Unlike the train that we took between Beijing and Ulaanbaatar, this first class doesn’t have an ensuite bathroom, which wasn’t too much of a hindrance. We learned quickly that you don’t need a shower everyday, especially when the most activity conducted is walking up and down the train carts, and the occasional platform strolls.  Time passed surprisingly quickly….

PEACE CORPS

2012 Peace Corps Annual Gathering

Over the weekend, I met the Peace Corps volunteer on this 1964 issue cover of National Geographic. She was with the first group of volunteers to Ecuador, and one of many remarkable Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) that I met at the 2012 Peace Corps Annual Gathering. The event  was hosted by the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), an independent non-profit organization that works closely with the Peace Corps…

On est ensemble!

The long-awaited Peace Corps reunion weekend happened a few days ago. This is the 50th year of the Peace Corps and this was the weekend that loads of events took place in DC. My stage (training group) took this opportunity and organized our own reunion on top of it. Somehow, we managed to get people to fly in from all over the country. Nearly 50 people showed up at the barbeque that took place. People came from San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Denver, and a few were fresh off the boat (plane) from Cameroon just a couple of weeks ago!