London -> St Petersburg
The first stage of our Epic London to Sydney overland journey is behind us. Belgium, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have all rushed past our frosted train or bus windows.
While you could count the miles, the journey – as they say – is best measured in friends, although we’ve been lucky enough to measure a huge number of both. Some are old mates from way back, some previous film collaborators, and others brand new to the Rat & Dragon experience. All of them are damn gorgeous, passionate about their cities, and all of them have carved their wonderful signatures onto our projects, our journey and our memories each in their own ways. Here’s a quick rundown:
London to Brussels. Train. 373 km (232 miles)
A seasoned traveller and long-time friend to Rat & Dragon going back to the early East-Coast-Australia backpacking days when he offered a lift in exchange for a place to stay – and ended up in a tent in the back garden for a month. A walk around the old town, Belgian Beers at his favourite local bars and dinner at the restaurant to meet the waitress he fancies made the perfect first stop of our Epic Journey to Sydney.
Brussels to Berlin. Train. 765 km (475 miles)
Coffus and Bjorn
Reaching into our filmmaker network for The Berlin Project, we meet Coffus, a talented film Director and our host to some of his Berlin favourites. Then Serendipity and Social Networks led us to Bjorn, The Social Traveller himself. Find their pick of Berlin’s highlights here.
Berlin to Vilnius (Via Warsaw). Train and bus. 1028 km (638 miles)
Vaiva, Ange and Gerda
Once again plugging into our film contacts, we meet up with Vaiva, photographer to the stars and a celebrity of sorts in her own right. A crazy dinner with Ange (Art Director of Cosmopolitan Magazine) and Gerda (Blonde Bombshell with eccentric German mates) then a bar tour of the old town, Vaiva introduced us to pop stars, bar owners and friends, leaving a frothing wake of admirers behind her.
Vilnius to Tallinn (via Riga). Bus. 601 km (373 miles)
We’d worked with Rob before. A passionate sound recordist, audio engineer and Tallinn native, between gigs he found time to show us a side to this gorgeous city we would never have found on our own. As well as the sumptuous and snowy old town, Rob hosted an impromptu photoshoot on an abandoned pier in the angry Baltic Sea, and an after-hours tour of deserted Festival of Song stadium, a monumental stage structure we had to ourselves.
St Petersburg. Bus. 368 km (228 miles)
Completing the first leg of the journey we arrive in Russia and into the hands of our contact Dasha – talented filmmaker, artist and designer whom we’ve collaborated with before. Straight off the train and into a home cooked family dinner, Dasha and her family treated us to traditional specialities Borsch (meat and vegetable soup), Butterbrot (rye bread topped with cured pork fat), delectable homemade pickles and by the end of the 2nd bottle of vodka, a Russian dynamite fishing demo and a catwalk strut in a genuine military uniform. Welcome to Mother Russia.
The tightest friendships, whether forged in travel or tempered on filmsets – on a personal level – really make this Epic Journey what it is. And as locals in their own environments who understand the rigours and requirements of filmmaking, have been invaluable in our quest for travel content to knock your socks off.