Jolie Travel Bytes: Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway and attend the Tsar’s Ball


I can't wait for this movie. Russia! Trains! Fur hats! Aaron Taylor-Johnson!

Everybody seems beside themselves with excitement over the release of Les Miserables. (Eh.) Me? I’m excited for Anna Karenina! When I was younger, I used to go to Barnes & Noble at North Point Mall and flip through coffee table books about Imperial Russia, dreaming of the Romanovs and Catherine the Great and the Hermitage and Faberge eggs. After my recent journey on South Africa’s Blue Train–more on that soon–my appetite has been whetted for luxury train travel. It’s so glamorous! And Russia! Double glamour!


The bar car on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian railway

Dreaming of your own Russian journey? Here’s something to get the wheels turning: Cox & Kings’ “The Golden Eagle: Trans-Siberian Railway” is a two-week train journey through the heart of Russia, starting in Moscow, traveling through Tatarstan, the Urals, Siberia, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar and finishing in Vladivostok–covering eight time-zones and 80 towns. (Tip: go to Russia in July and August, when you can experience their famous “White Nights” with an otherworldly 24-hours of sun.)

Another amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience Cox & Kings is offering: spending New Year’s Eve in St. Petersburg at the Tsar’s Ball at Tsarskoe Selo. (Tsarskoe Selo has been a personal top 5 must-see since my childhood.) I mean, c’mon. How cool does this sound?


Catherine the Great received Tsarskoe Selo as a gift from her husband Peter the Great

Upon arrival, you will be greeted by torch bearing Imperial Hussars, followed by a promenade walk through the Palace Chambers and the fabled Amber room. A 5-course dinner will be held in Imperial Throne room accompanied by ballet and opera performances with music from symphony and classical Balalaika orchestras. At the stroke of midnight, there will be a bell concert with a string orchestra playing the waltzes of Johann Strauss and a jazz band leading the New years celebrations tell dawn.

The package includes 4 nights accommodation at the Orient Express owned Grand Hotel Europe, your Tsars Ball ticket, airport transfers and tours of the city including the Peter & Paul Fortress and the world famous Hermitage Museum with private guides.


My favorite photo of the beautiful, doomed Romanov daughters. They used to summer at Tsarskoe Selo and spoke English. Their great-grandmother was Queen Victoria and they are (not-too-distant) cousins of William and Harry, as their father Czar Nicholas II was first cousins with Queen Elizabeth's grandfather.

Neither of these experiences is cheap, but let’s be real: if you’re spending 2 weeks in Russia or going to Tsar Balls, you’re either a retiree, on your honeymoon, or you’ve got bank. Me gusta. Visit for more info.

Doppleganger first cousins: Czar Nicholas II of Russia on the left, Queen Elizabeth's grandfather King George V of Great Britain on the right.

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