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11 November 2006


Covering 17,075,400 square kilometres, Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of land area. Travelling around it without using an aeroplane can be time consuming but Sandi Toksvig is joined by Neil McGowan, Simon and Chris Raven and Henry Davis who have all crossed the country from one end to the other – without taking off.

Presented by Sandi Toksvig

Cathedral of St Nicholas, near Perm in Russia

Photo: Cathedral of St Nicholas, near Perm in Russia
(Courtesy of the Russian Experience)

This week's guests: 

Neil McGowan lives in Moscow and is managing director of The Russia Experience a UK firm specializing in trips on the Trans Siberian Railway.  Neil has travelled by train from the Baltic to the Pacific on numerous occasions.  It’s a journey that takes more than eight days on the Trans-Siberian railway - a distance of over 9,000 kilometres.

Simon and Chris Raven are twin brothers from Worcestershire.  While working in a frozen food packing plant to raise funds for a trip Simon had the idea of driving to Vladivostok. They went in the car they used for getting to work, a £300 Ford Sierra, and deliberately chose to leave rather unprepared.  The journey took six weeks and was made slightly more difficult by the fact that the last section of road through Siberia hadn’t been completed at the time.  They recount their adventure in a book entitled ‘The Linger Longer – Driving the Trans-Siberian’.

The Linger Longer – Driving the Trans-Siberian
By Chris Raven and Simon Raven
Publisher: Samosir Books
ISBN: 0 9548842 1 3

Henry Davis is a lecturer in International Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London and has traversed Russia from north to south and by water.  The Russian waterways are a system of interlinking rivers, canals and lakes used by freight and passenger ships which can sail from the Urals westwards to the Baltic and North Seas, southwards to the Black Sea, and northwards to the White Sea.  The waterways are mostly frozen in the winter but the summer brings out travellers, both Russian and foreign, to cruise all over western Russia.

Henry has led and organised study tours all over the world, particularly in Eastern Europe and Russia.  He has been visiting the former Soviet Union since 1964 and has been on over 20 trips on Russian waterways, most recently last year. He sometimes goes as a passenger and sometimes he gives talks – usually on Russian history.

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Sandi ToksvigSandi Toksvig:
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Sandi has been travelling all her life more info

John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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