Russia: on and off the beaten track
We've never liked touristy spots. Wherever we go we do our best to find something that's not hackneyed, something with a difference.
We're going to write in this blog about such places which are attractive to tourists and still remain authentic.
For those who need guidance when in Saint-Petersburg I could provide that for some remuneration. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org If you still are doubtful about going to Saint-Petersburg, you should watch these videos. I find them the most beautiful ones, without boring lecturing on history, just the magnificent city. And me in the Hermitage!
When I see how popular with foreign tourists the Trans-Siberian Railway is, I clearly understand how little they know about Russia and travel by train. To be honest, I've never travelled by the Trans-Siberian but I'll never ever do it because that's how I see it.
Russia beyond the Urals.
The main historical events of Russia took place in the European part of the country, hence, not further than the Urals. The Urals and Siberia were mostly the industrial regions where natural resources were exploited, some factories were situated but all the culture and most historical sights have always been in the European area (Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, towns of the Golden Ring of Russia).
Here we go again, nothing can teach us, we just seem to reject fiercely what we've gone through during the oppression of the Soviet period, all the pain, poverty, madness, hypocrisy. Do we want more of it?
It's painful but the problem of the Russian Federation is not putin, but the Russians, serving their patron with obsequiousness. Nowadays putin is gaining more and more support with ordinary people. And although I don't watch Russian television nowadays, since it's all lies, there's one piece of truth in the news nowadays - putin is gaining support. Regardless the fact that lots of Russians still don't have running water in their houses and go to the toilet outside the house, many can't find a job that can support their family, they feel pride for putin who doesn't give away Crimnea.
Censorship in the USSR crystallized into ugliest, most perverted and absurd forms then. That is exactly what we're heading for nowadays. The popular band Lyapis Trubetskoy was prohibited a performance in Pskov (Russia) due to the complaint of the local Communist Party members. They suppose the videos and songs of the new album "Matreshka" produce Russia's image in an unflattering and miserable way.
Of course, we all have to watch this "mean" and "evil" video which so embarrassed the delicate taste of the Communist Party members.
Believe it or not, one of the busiest highways of Russia connecting Moscow and Saint-Petersburg has 3 lanes and driving from Saint-Petersburg to Moscow takes from 7 to 12 hours depending on traffic jams.
The 50/50 state / private -owned company has been building the other highway M-11 going round the major towns in order to avoid traffic jams … since 2006… The notorious daily traffic jam at Vyshny Volochek may take from 1 to 5 hours and entrenches upon hundreds of people's time.More schemes and photos here.
Before 1815 the site had been occupied by trading stalls. Retail trade and whole sale prospered there. The stalls needed renovation badly but the tenants were against it since it would decrease their revenue. The building was in such a bad condition that "once a layer of plaster fell on the buyers, but another time, a lady, trying on a velvet dress that suited her very well, failed through the rotten floor, broke her leg and so was taken to the hospital in the unpaid new dress. The owner was afraid to remind her about it, at the meantime being happy that she didn’t recover for her loss."
However, after a long-term opposition between the government officials and merchants who owned the stalls and the plots of land on which they were located, in 1893 the grand opening of a new building of the Upper trading stalls took place. You can learn more about the GUM building construction on its site.
Nowadays it is an enormous boutique with hundreds of departments. Its one side overlooks Red Square and the others - picturesque old-fashioned narrow Moscow streets. It also houses the Gastronome №1 (a large food shop), some cafes, and occasional exhibitions.
The press-conference, 19th December (broadcast by public channels all over Russia) held to honour putin's reign and general effulgence was preceded by the detention of 20 activists.
The people had come in order to hand over to putin the letter of support for Bolotnaya's square held prisoners.
The policemen refused to introduce themselves.
It's getting scary here… really.
Moscow is not a pedestrian friendly city. Cars parked on pavements, scarcely located underground walkways, too many people who normally rush around.
Well, I know I can't help grudging about the city. Here I would offer a route from the Novospassky Monastery along the Moskva River to the Red Square and further on to Tverskaya street, a pompous reminder of Stalin's Empire style.
You may start at Proletarskaya underground station then take your time relaxing in the garden of the Novospassky Monastery where you should also have a meal. Beware: a walk along the river will take 2-3 hours and there are not so many crossings or underground pedestrian walkways. As far as I remember there were 2 or 3 of them.
Once you start your trip along the embankment, you won't get much chance to cross the road which is all along the embankment and is a very busy one. Strange but true: there aren't benches or any facilities for taking a break on the embankment.
However, the views unfolding will reward you for some inconvenience.
The Russian language is quite popular nowadays. Recent political events have caused the interest in Russian culture.
Learning Russian is certainly NOT a piece of cake. So I wish patience to those who's got the nerve to do it. With a little help from your friends you may succeed eventually.
You may watch Russian cartoons here. From the Soviet ones to modern. (in Russian, of course)
An extensive and exhaustive collection of classical Russian literature pieces records are here. From Dostoyevsky to Platonov. (in Russian)
Lenfilm (Leningrad Film) production channel which I've recently discovered will introduce you to a great number of classic Russian films of the Soviet period (which most of us, Russians consider the golden age of film production in the country).
The film I particularly adore is "A stranger's wife and a husband under the bed" after Fedor Dostoyevsky's novel, which is one of the lightest comedies portraying the life of the 19th century average man. If you study Russian, there's one more advantage: the language of it is quite simple relating to daily problems and worries which we all might encounter (hopefully, not...))
A number of Russian novels by Gogol, Chekhov, Dostoyevsky were made into movies by Lenfilm. You can also find them on the Youtube channel.
Russian Cuisine is something not so expansively promoted as Italian Cuisine. However, overall Russian food is healthier if we delve into the subject. Sugar, coffee, cakes were not common in the mostly argricultural country. Such vegetables as beetroot, cabbage, turnip were cooked in stoves (pech') I think if nowadays chefs were not so narrow-mindedly concentrated on making pizzas, frog's legs or foie Gras they would learn a lot from what was Russian Cuisine in the past.