take the U-train – how tina uebel travelled the landroute from hamburg to shanghai bye:herself

Ms Tina Uebel is telling her absolutely fascinating story how she travelled from Germany’s West coast to China’s East coast. There are probably hundreds of people doing this every day;  but by train? And we are not talking the touristy, comfy Transsiberian here, the Titanic of trains. No, Tina Uebel took the ordinary trains – in total 19 of them! – that took her in seven weeks from Hamburg across Europe, the Middle East, East Asia – in total eight countries! – all the way to Shanghai.

cake sellers in Turkmenistan
Sweet encounters in Turkmenistan – proverbial and litteraly.
This Central Asian state was Tina’s fourth country on her route from Hamburg to Shanghai.
Photo: David Stanley, www.flickr.com/people/davidstanleytravel/

Before I tell you more about this great book, let me dwell a moment on the spectacular author and her flashing name. Of course I mean her surname, Uebel, which in her mothertongue German means, depending on the context, something like queasy, bad, dangerous.
For her book she picked the title “Uebel unterwegs” which thusly might be translated either as “Uebel on the road”, or irrespective of her name, “Sorely afflicted on the road”. That’s not only an original double meaning, that’s also true; You can follow Tina’s tales and trails with awe – how many women do you know that hop by themselves on a train that goes across Eurasia? Most of the time she’s having a great time; because she’s willing to have a great time. But you’ll have to witness also moments where she is worn and torn and pensive – especially when she realizes how blessed we are being born by chance in a wealthy country with a democratic government and a passport that grants us unlimited travelling.

For some people it’s unimaginable to travel individually and not organized. For many people it’s unthinkable globetrotting by themselves. And then comes this forty something women and travels individually (and sometimes not so very organized) by herself through countries that make others shiver. And she’s generous enough sharing not only her adventures, big and small, with her readers, no, in addition she shares her feelings and her thoughts. She describes encounters with different people in such a vivid and intense way that you have the feeling sitting next to them. Her travel buddies become your buddies, too. When she described how she bids farewell to her friend’s Persian cousin in Teheran, it made me cry a little since I had to part with him, too.

She crosses countries and visits cities you probably haven’t even heard of – all these “-stans” in the former Soviet Union where she’s not allowed to take pictures; and when she’s allowed to do so, she’s too polite to interfere with people’s privacy. But Tina makes up for this by describing these people and places in such a emphatic, vivid and vibrant fashion that you see them right before your inner eye in even brighter colors than a photograph could ever show.

Tina Uebel Portrait
Witty traveller, humorous writer, and busy body Tina Uebel.
Photo: Florian Büh, www.Gutes-Foto.de

If you’re not a traveller (then I’m surprised that you read my blog, but thanks a lot, anyway), you’ll enjoy all these curious and noteworthy encounters. When you’re a traveller, too, you’ll have experienced similar situations, but her writing them down is like underlining them with a laser pointer: Yes, me too, I’m missing decent coffee as soon as I leave Europe; real coffee, coming from coffee beans, not from a pack of Nescafé with or without whitener and sugar in it. Oh my gosh, how I can relate to her dwelling on the lack of decent coffee!  Yes, me too, I’m looking at all these disappointed faces that try to get me involved in a conversation about soccer and the price of a BMW since I’m from Germany; I know next to nothing about soccer and I’m riding the subway. And yes, me too, my blog entries are too long since I’m rather a wandering storyteller than an influencer.

So is there a downside to this absolutely fantastic book? Yes, there is: It’s written in German and not translated in any other language yet. And some of the cutest expressions are so Hamburgish that I’m afraid people living about one mile from Hamburg’s city limits won’t know them. But it doesn’t matter, they can be translated and replaced by sweet and funny idioms, especially transferred into English. So hurry up, you translators, and spread her words – that are so full of love and joy for travelling.

This is the awesome book “Uebel unterwegs” * in which Tina Uebel takes you to mesmerizing destinations and encounters in Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Usbekistan, Kasachstan, and China. Safe travels!

*This is an affiliate link. By purchasing items through my affiliate links at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission that helps to run this site.

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