The ‘Stans & Escaping the Tyranny of the Familiar

Greetings from Vienna!

I’m here in Austria doing a bit of recon work for our upcoming Austria & South Tyrol program here next spring, and enjoying the sights and sounds of Vienna, where I spent several fond years living at one point.

But as much as I’m enjoying all that’s familiar here in my old stomping grounds, my mind at the moment is fully captured by the unfamiliar and the thrill of the unknown, two very appropriate terms for our much-anticipated Silk Road train journey that I’m very pleased to release this week.

Fundamentally that is why we travel, right? To escape the tyranny of the familiar and find ourselves expanded for having done so. And while not every trip needs to be a full-scale adventure, neither should every one be to places of comfort and ‘the known.’

I’ve personally desired to visit Central Asia and the ‘Stan countries for quite a long time, in very large part because I know so little about them. I’ve never been, haven’t met a great many folks from the region in my life, and haven’t read any books, watched any movies or eaten a whole lot of cuisine from the region.

Not because I don’t find the region interesting – quite the contrary – but mostly due to the scale of the undertaking to get there and find out for myself. This isn’t well-connected Europe or Southeast Asia with multiple ways to get around; it’s more akin to trying to make your way across Canada to see a few places of interest, with a whole lot of nothing in between.

(And by nothing I of course mean glorious nothing, and of a delightfully different sort than we have at home – deserts, steppes, and mountain ranges, with an occasional outpost of civilization popping up between them.)

So, and as I mentioned in this newsletter a few weeks back, if you do decide to plunge into the unknown and decide to visit the ‘Stans, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better alternative than doing it by rail.

Simply put, because the distances are vast and the most interesting sites are not in the cities, you’ve got to go overland for this route; and between a car, a coach, and railcar, the last of these is by far the most comfortable way to go.

On our trip we’ll cross through Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan on the Silk Road Orient Express train, stopping for a night or two off the train on our 15-day journey with the rest on board.

We’ll explore legendary Silk Road stops like Tashkent, Samarkand, Bishkent and more, taking in the history of this remarkable route as well as the breathtaking geometrical artistry and architecture of the mausoleums and mosques along the way.

And, though I’m usually not much of one for souvenirs, I’ve got this little tingle in my mind suggesting there might be a unique and special treasure to be found in a dusty bazaar or market somewhere along the way…whether it’s intuition or imagination remains to be seen 🙂

All told I think it’s a wonderful dose of both the unknown and the unfamiliar, and it’s an uncommon enough opportunity that it ought to be investigated if you’ve ever thought of travelling to the region. You can find the full itinerary in your newsletter, or join us for the webinar in the week ahead if you’d like get the full picture.

Apart from that, there’s more webinars below, more trips in our Trip List PDF, and more trips on the way…be well, stay tuned, and do get in touch should you have any questions about this or any of our upcoming adventures.


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