Russia is usually considered a difficult-to-choose destination, because of some common prejudices, which we are trying to destroy:
- The language: this is the first concrete obstacle, and I have to admit that it is quite hard to visit Russian cities without knowing the Russian language. You will find quite all the road signs, driving directions, names etc. in the Cyrillic alphabet, and if you want to ask someone for help, you will hardly find an English speaker. Russians aren’t really used to changes, and they are still trying to get used to the English language. However, on the occasion of the Football World Championship 2018, they have added in Moscow and S.Petersburg double writings on the stations’ names and on street signs, so that now you can find both Cyrillic and Latin alphabet. This is a big help to navigate in the cities.
- The History is the second element against the beauty of Russia. We are just used to think about the cruel Tsars, the wars, the differences, the atrocities… but let me say that not all the months are Red October and not all the factories produce tanks. Do you know what I mean?
- Russian people: We think more or less the same about the people. The most common though about Russians is that they are “rude” or “unhappy” or “always angry”, and it is obvious that people whith these kind of thoughts prefer destinations like Spain, France or Italy, where people are always happy and ready to party. I can say that we met some “grumpy people”, but it is wrong to put labels. You can surely find good and honest people, maybe not in the centre of the biggest cities, maybe not at 8 am on Monday, but I am sure that it is the same also in France, in Spain and in Italy. We should just open our eyes.
- Climate: We are also used to think about Russia just as the most desolated part of Siberia, where there are eternal snows and -40°C, but in summer it is not like this. We have been to Russia twice between July and August, and we have never found a single day with less than 30°C. If you don’t like the cold weather, then go to Russia in summer!!!
- Food: “They just eat turnips, soups and drink vodka!” is the first sentence that comes to our minds. I have to say that it is true. Don’t touch their soups or typical dishes! But we have to take in consideration that the majority of the tourists goes in the main cities, Moscow and S. Petersburg, and there you can find every kind of international restaurants and some variations of the typical Russian dishes. I personally don’t love Boršč or Šči (the two main soups), but they have also other things I really like. They often eat Pel’meni, a sort of ravioli, served with sour cream and filled in different ways; the Bliny are a kind of French crepes even if they will say that they are a typical Russian dish; they adore to start the meal with a fresh salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, you can like it or not, but it is not that bad; they also have very good beer, the traditional one is the Baltika, of which you can find various types, but you can find also Georgian and European beers. And beer tastes even better when it costs just 1,5€ instead of 5€!!! I could go on, but I think I have given you an idea, haven’t I?
- Ballet: If you like lyric or ballet, this is the right place for you. Seeing a show at the Bol’shoi in Moscow or at the Mariinskii in S.Petersburg is very, very easy; and we all agree saying that the Russian ballet is the best of the world. If you want to spend a evening at the theatre (and you must do it!), you just have to buy the tickets online and bring some elegant clothes. In the cheapest spots ther is no dress-code, but they won’t let you in if you are badly dressed.
- Art: Moscow and S.Petersburg are full of museums and art masterpieces. In the expositions you can find very different kinds of art, usually different from the ones we are used to. First, there are a lot of oriental objects and paintings, which I personally enjoyed a lot, because I hadn’t seen such things before, second we have to remember that, because of the greatness of the European works, we rarely have the opportunity to see Russian pieces of work, so it could be a great occasion to learn something new and unique. The most beautiful things to see in Russia are the palaces. In the past they belonged to the tsars, while now inside them there are, museums, expositions, botiques etc.; they are often in the middle of beautiful and extraordinarly well mantained parks, which offer you the opportunity to spend some hours in the nature!
I hope you have understood that Russia can be very fascinating, even if it has few defects. The task of every traveller is to discover it and decide for himself which are the positive and the negative sides of this huge country.
We have our own ideas and we would like to talk about it with you.
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