6 reasons to travel to Russia
There are so many things to discover during a trip to Russia! Not only are the Russian landscapes and architecture in historic towns amazing, but if you try to get to know the locals and their customs you will come back feeling transformed by the authentic experience!
Visit the beautiful orthodox churches
What would Russia be without its colourful, onion domed churches with their enormous cupolas? It's impossible to be indifferent to these magnificent, imposing edifices. This is Byzantine architecture - highly coloured, almost kitsch exteriors, sometimes quite elegant, surmounted by golden onion domes and cupolas. The interiors can be quite austere with numerous icons. Mass for the believers can last for hours and hours.
Travelling on the Trans-SiberianRussia's legendary train line. And one of its charms. For a few days you can live in a different world that seems strangely like a commune. You'll either love it or hate it...you have to put up with everyone around you (including their body odours, because there aren't any showers in the train) but you will have some interesting meetings! Have a drink, go back and forth to the samovar to get your tea, watch the immense desert countryside pass by. A great time and some great people!
Landscapes covered in beautiful winter clothingRussia without the cold wouldn't be Russia, so if you want to find out all about the country you also need to experience the extreme cold! Temperatures can get as low as -30°C (even lower sometimes) and although it's difficult to get about in such conditions you will be dazzled by the countryside. See the pack-ice on Lake Baikal, skate on the rivers, walk among snow covered tree, or have fun watching the children get their tongue stuck on their ice cream (the Russians love ice cream, even in winter) - you're bound to love what you see in a Russian winter.
Fall in love with Russian cuisine
Although it's not well-known, Russian cuisine has some great surprises in store! There are delicious winter and summer soups (borscht, okroshka, shchi), shashlik (kebabs), dranikis (potato pancakes) with sour cream, and pirozkhi - you won't be disappointed! Meals are often accompanied by tea, which the Russians drink all the time. In summer, it's better to drink kvass (a drink made from fermented bread), which will quench your thirst and is much cheaper than bottled water. You can find people selling it on the corner of the street, from yellow coloured tanks
Go to a dacha
Lots of Russians have a dacha (a second home in the country). It is usually very rustic and has a banya (Russian sauna). When your friends come round it's usual to have a few drinks together and then go have a bath together. In winter, after you have spent some time at 60°C you can run outside and roll in the snow (sometimes -30°C) and then go back into the banya to heat up again. To relax you even more, you can be massaged with birch twigs. It's really calming. They often go to the dachas in summer too, and grill shashlik (kebabs).
Meet the locals
Once you've got past the language barrier, and your fear of the unknown, the Russians can be very friendly. It's true that Russia can appear to be fairly unfriendly on the surface - people don't say hello in the shops and don't kiss when they meet. - But it would be a shame to stick with first impressions because once you have established contact you see that individualism doesn't really exist in Russia. Probably the result of their difficult past where it was essential to help each other. In addition, Russians generally like Brits, and admire their capacity for drinking!
Updated 26 October 2018