hidden europe 58

To the Urals and the Russian Riviera

by hidden europe

Picture above: The resort town of Sochi on Russia's Black Sea coast (photo © Arts1961 / dreamstime.com).


Direct trains from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius to such far flung destinations as Sochi and Adler (both on the Russia's Back Sea Riviera) and to Anapa and Chelyabinsk recall the days of Soviet travel. We scan the departure boards for a few exotica.

Of the three Baltic capitals it is Vilnius which presently has by far the best range of train services. This is not the result of native enthusiasm for railways, but more an accident of geopolitics. The Russian Federation includes the exclave Oblast of Kaliningrad. Overland travellers between Russia proper and the Kaliningrad region must perforce transit Lithuania. And the Lithuanian authorities insist that Russian transit trains all stop in Vilnius. Apart from obvious destinations such as St Petersburg and Moscow, there are some exotica like the weekly train from Kaliningrad to Chelyabinsk (Челябинск) which brings a bit of colour to the Vilnius departure boards every Monday afternoon. Chelyabinsk lies just east of the Ural Mountains.

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