We do not often write about luxury on rails, but the more interesting it will be for the reader to find out the news in this area. This time, it was not the authors of LuxuryTravelBlog who went to explore new directions, but myself. On a week-long trip to 6 (Maikop – Nalchik – Grozny – Derbent – Kislovodsk-Pyatigorsk) cities of the Caucasus – on the train “Pearl of the Caucasus”. Such a route already existed at RZD-TOUR and even received the Made in Russia award in 2021, established with the support of Rostourism, but this year it was updated, adding visits to two more republics – Adygea and Kabardino-Balkaria.
The romance of the railway has noticeably improved since my childhood: the tourist train includes luxury, SV and compartment cars equipped with air conditioning systems, environmentally friendly toilet complexes and sockets for charging gadgets. For those whose compartment does not have a shower, there is a whole car with showers, where passengers are met and escorted by a “light steam” by a smiling conductor.
Since the train goes non-stop on the first and last day, the best entertainment will be to admire the picturesque landscapes through the window, both from your compartment and from the dining car (the menu, by the way, includes dishes of the national cuisine of the Caucasus). Well, in the evening you can spend time in the bar car with karaoke and slot machines or watch the good old Soviet cinema on plasma in your compartment.
When booking on the site, I was offered a choice of classical and gastronomic programs. If there is no option to choose “both bread and spectacles”, I always choose “spectacles”, because it is them that I can take with me to eternity, but, I will pay tribute to the organizers, everything was more than worthy with “bread” in this program – Caucasians simply do not know how to spoil food. By the way, those travelers who purchased only a train ticket (this option was also offered) could arrange excursions in the cities along the route from the conductors. And by the way, there is another option – the Comfort version.
In one trip, I saw the apple valleys and the Khadzhokhskaya Gorge of Adygea and the largest mosque in Europe, the Heart of Chechnya. We rushed somewhere along the Argun Gorge, tried to see the bride in the Nikhaloy waterfalls, ate the simple food of the mountaineers at the twin towers, held a month-old lion cub in Shali in our arms.
They tried to steal me and spin me in a dance at Phakoch Castle. I breathed in the healing air of the Kislovodsk park, where I often visited in my childhood, tasted all kinds of narzan in the Narzan Gallery and drove through the Lermontov places of Pyatigorsk.
She also took the cable car to Mount Elbrus and walked along the Derbent citadel of Naryn-Kala.
But, of course, I would like a little more about personal impressions. I don’t really like traveling “at a gallop across Europe”, but if you look at this tour as an introductory one, in order to feel which cities and republics you want to return to in order to continue your acquaintance, this is more than a suitable option.
All days were special, and each was remembered for something different, but, perhaps, Kabardino-Balkaria was included in the list of my favorites of the Caucasus.
It was this day that I remember more than others, and Kabardino-Balkaria remained a special note in my heart. I suspect that the whole point is in Elbrus, which is not without reason called the heart chakra of the earth.
Along the Baksan gorge of the Elbrus region, bypassing the monument to the pioneers (which, by the way, they climbed Elbrus without any equipment, in a cloak and hat) and the mountain where Father Athanasius from the “12 chairs” crushed the sausage stolen from Kisa Vorobyaninov, with a stop at the Narzanov Glade to to drink Nart-sane, “bogatyr-water”, we drove to the Azau glade and climbed on the cable car to the Gara-Bashi station, located at an altitude of 3847 meters.
The snow and the sun were blinding, the pressure jumped, I was driven a little, but the feeling of happiness, sparkling like peaks, did not leave. And I decided to enjoy even a short meeting with Elbrus in meditation on the snow. And it was a meeting with the infinite love of the mountain, which even more opened the already open heart.
And then there was Dagestan and Derbent. And the meeting with the Caspian Sea, which I have been waiting for 33 years. And at first I looked at it from afar – from the train window, then – from the Naryn-Kala fortress, and then we were brought to taste cognac and dine ashore.
And I ran. By the shells that crunched something after me. To stones plastered with green algae. To take off my shoes and stand with my feet in the sea where I was born.
And now he pokes at my feet, like an old dog who recognizes an old friend, caresses, licks. And I cry with happiness. And he takes away my tears to become another drop of salt. I will definitely meet with the Caspian. And with RZD-TOUR I will also go somewhere else.
In total, in 2022, RZD TOUR plans 22 flights (every Saturday from May to September), and during the season, about 5.5 thousand travelers will be able to go to Caucasian adventures by rail.
In the meantime, I’m looking at a gastronomic tour to Kazan and an exclusive vip tour from Ruskeala Express. Although I have already been to Karelia, Sortavala and Ruskeala have not yet been explored.