A Travel Journey Called Russia



Russia is the largest state of the planet covering more than one eighth of the inhabited surface of the Earth, although more than half is almost uninhabited. While it is geographically located primarily in Asia, the majority of Russia's population is concentrated in the European part and culturally, Russia is unmistakably European.

The most vital capital of Europe is Moscow that from a couple of decades is experiencing an explosion of creative energy without equal. Partly having been shaken by past censure and deprivation, Moscow city has embarked on a growth that has led her to become one of the most prosperous centre of economic, cultural and artistic activities of the Old Continent, in spite of the image of the communist bulwark.

Many of the cultural institutions of the town like the Museum of Fine Arts and the famous Bolshoi Theatre in Pushkin, are opening the doors, while crowds of tourists from all over the world invade the wine bars, cafés and brasseries of the main roads. As night falls, however, the curtain rises on the wild nightlife of the city, with a vast range of places open until morning.

Founded in 1147 by Yuri Dolgoruky, the first village in today's Moscow was no more than a handful of small houses. Already in 1156, however, the founder prince decided to fortify the village surrounding it with walls of which, however, could do nothing against the advance of the Mongols in 1237, when Moscow was looted and heavily damaged. At the time of reconstruction of the city it became the capital of an independent principality, while at the beginning of the fourteenth century the town was conquered by Daniil Alexandrovich, the son of Alexander Nevsky and a member of the Rurik dynasty.

During the fourteenth century the town grew to its size and its weight in the military and political field, driving the Russian levied against the Mongols. In 1480 Ivan III finally escaped the region from the hands of the Tartars making Moscow the capital of an immense empire that stretched as far as Siberia.

Moscow became the third Rome, after Rome itself and Constantinople, with its beautiful Orthodox churches and tsars who succeeded at the helm of the kingdom until the October Revolution of 1917. The Russian identity can be traced back to the Middle Ages, its first state known as Kievan Rus and its religion rooted in Byzantine Christianity, which was adopted from Constantinople.

The Russian Empire reached its peak at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, producing many colorful and enlightened figures such as Catherine the Great, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.

From then until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 Moscow has experienced many difficult moments, from which, however, has always been able to raise themselves up with pride. The heart of Moscow is the Kremlin, a fortified citadel built on the left bank of the Moscow River on the hill Borovitsky. Adjacent to its eastern side opens the Red Square, from where radiate the major arterial roads of the city, including Tverskaya Ulitsa, heading north.

Around the center well run four ring roads, of which the most internal, Bulvarnoye Koltso (the Boulevard Ring) and Sadovoe Koltso (Garden Ring) pleasant to explore on foot. Almost all the places of tourist interest are concentrated within this second ring road, which represents the virtual boundary between the center and the endless suburbs. The only Moscow offshore is Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills), a distant hill, 6 km from the Kremlin on which is based the University of Moscow. There is no tourist in the world who has been in Moscow without seeing the Kremlin.

The complex, although it has been renovated in the 30s of the twentieth century, is the oldest part of Moscow and home to a large part of the Russian national government institutions, as well as one of the major artistic and historical complex of the country. While the western part of the Kremlin is surrounded by gardens of Alexander, one of the first public parks established in the city, the eastern part is the one where is focused most of the buildings.

The whole area is enclosed by triangular walls built between 1485 and 1495 and almost ten kilometers long, with a height ranging from 5 to 19 meters. Inside the Kremlin holds the richest treasures, those who have earned the recognition of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.

In the north­west, accessible by Kutafya Tower, are located on the Trinity Building, Potezny, the Palace of the State and the eighteenth ­century Arsenale, surrounded by well 800 guns stolen from the French armies of Napoleon. A short distance include the Presidential Office of Russia, created inside the old Senate, while further south stands the Patriarch's Palace, where the main attraction is the Sala della Croce.

Around the palace stretches Sobornaya pl, the real heart of the Kremlin, which houses seven Orthodox churches, bordered by the Annunciation Cathedral, the Church of the Deposition of the Robe, the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the Cathedral of the Archangel and the magnificent Palazzo dei Diamanti and Terem Palace.

Just outside the north­eastern walls of the Kremlin is the famous Red Square, 400 long wide area 150 m and dominated on the south side of the St. Basil's Cathedral (Pokrovsky Cathedral); the historical value of the square is invaluable, able to provoke strong emotions in the coldest of hearts. Like Red Square and the Kremlin, Lenin's Mausoleum has become a real landmark of any tourist itinerary in the Russian capital and is always preceded by long queues.

The building, a massive block of granite, contains the remains of Soviet leader since 1924, although in recent times it has been debating whether or not to move to St. Petersburg. In the north of the square you can see the State Historical Museum, which boasts a vast historical collection from the Stone Age until the fall of the Tsarist, and the GUM, which stands for Gosudarstvenny Universalny Magazin, or Big State Warehouse.

Around Red Square, conventionally delimited by an arc composed of Mokhovaya Ulitsa, Okhotny Ryad, Teatralny proezd and Lubyansky proezd, extends the very center of Moscow. Here is the main point of reference for lovers of ballet and the performing arts, as well as for all lovers of architecture: the Bolshoi Theatre (Bolshoi), where in 1877 he held the lucky little before the Lake swans by Tchaikovsky. To the east, however, unfold the narrow streets of the neighborhood Kitay Gorod, which includes the old Zarja D'e area, founded in the thirteenth century as a financial center and the shops.

Here are some beautiful churches, such as the Zaikon Spassky Monastery, the Monastery of the Epiphany, of Santa Barbara, San Giorgio and the Trinity in Nikiniki, in addition to ancient buildings such as the Synodal Printing House and the Old Stock Exchange. a special mention deserves the Cathedral of Christ, the Savior, which is located west of the Kremlin, along the northern bank of the Moscow River. It was the celebration of the victory over Napoleon, but it was demolished in the socialist era, and then built back in 1997.

Other particularly interesting neighborhoods within the Garden Ring are Basmanny and Krasnoselsky, bordered to the south by the small Yauzie river. Here you will find the Botanical Garden MGU, perfect way to escape the chaos that characterizes the center of the Russian capital, and the Andrei Sakharov Museum, entirely dedicated to the life of the nuclear physicist who died in 1989.

There is also Tverskoy, the neighborhood crossed by Tverskaya ul, the beginning of the road to Tver and then to St. Petersburg. On it they face some fascinating churches, like the Church of the Resurrection and the Nativity of the Virgin in Putinki, the Museum of Contemporary History and the statue of the founder of Moscow Yuri Dolgoruky.

Russia possesses many of the greatest museums in the world, in particular in the field of visual arts. The Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg is the real star, with a huge collection accumulated by the rich first Tsar (especially its founder, Catherine the Great) and then by the Soviets and the Red Army (which seized a huge treasure from Nazis, who, in turn, had sacked around the world during their wars). Equally impressive is the building that houses the collection, the magnificent Winter Palace of the Romanov dynasty.

It has the second best in the country purely Russian art collection, from the tenth century icons through modern movements, each of which revolutionary Russia Often overlooked Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, should instead be a priority, he has been the guide to the rest of the world. The lesser known of art museums in Moscow, including the Tretyakov Gallery (the main Russian art) and the Pushkin Museum of Western Art.

Other museum exhibits that it is certainly worth trying, are the collections of antiquities in St. Petersburg and Moscow, in particular at the Hermitage Museum, and the Armoury of the Moscow Kremlin. For fans of military relics, the military museums Russian are often fantastic, among the best in the world, regardless of whether you are in one of the main in Moscow as the Central Museum of the Armed Forces, Kubinka Tank Museum, the Central Museum of aeronautics, Museum of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), or one of the many out-of in the province. The other category in which Russian museums are able to overshadow foreign ones are those that fall in the spheres of literature and music.

None of the cities visited by Alexander Pushkin, even if only for a day, has no museum, no matter how small, dedicated to his life and his works. The best among the great museums of the city are the Bulgakov Museum in Moscow, Anna Akhmatova in Pushkin and Dostoevsky museums in St. Petersburg.

Great adventures await in quieter parts of the country, the summer home of Dostoevsky in Staraya Russa, inaccessible literary stronghold of Tolstoy known as Yasnaya Polyana, the country estate of Chekhov in Melikhovo, the Tchaikovsky house in Klin or his remote home town of Votkinsk in Udmurtia, the summer residence of Rachmaninov in Ivanovka, the estate of Pushkin in pushkinskaya gory, or the country estate of Turgenev in Spasskoye-Lutovinovo near Mtsensk.

For lovers of classical music, the house-museums of various composers of the nineteenth century in St. Petersburg are worth more than just a nostalgic pilgrimage; often they have small exhibitions of incredible musicians.

The ecclesiastical architecture is a significant source of pride among Russians, and the onion dome is undoubtedly one of the national symbols par excellence. The twentieth century, unfortunately, has sadly seen cultural vandalism in the destruction of the architecture of such a scale without precedent. But the huge number of beautiful ancient monasteries and churches still assured their stay consistent.

The best known, as usual, are in St. Petersburg and Moscow, in particular the old Baroque Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood, the Alexander Nevsky Monastery and the monumental cathedrals of Kazan and St Isaac in the first case, while the Cathedral St. Basil and the massive Church of the Annunciation in the second.

The spiritual home of the Russian Orthodox Church is located at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in Sergiev Posad of the Gold Ring Circuit (Laura is the name given to the most important monasteries, and there are only two in the country) even if the physical location of the Church is the Danilov Monastery in Moscow. The Monastery of Kirillo-Beloserskij in Vologda Oblast is often considered the second most important of Russia and it is a decent way to get off the beaten track.

Other churches and particularly famous monasteries are to be found in the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Veliky Novgorod, the Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir, the charming Old Cathedral of Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg, which houses the tomb of Immanuel Kant), the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow, Optina Putsin (the basis for the monastery, Father Zosima it the Brothers Karamazov ) and the monastery of Volokolamsk to in Oblast West of Moscow. Even the Kizhi (Kizhi Pogost) on Lake Onega and the Valaam Monastery on Lake Ladoga are very popular sites, especially among those who travel between St. Petersburg and Moscow.

The ecclesiastical architecture, however, does not end with the Russian Orthodox Church; Russia also has a wealth of Islamic and Buddhist architecture. The most important mosques in the nation are Qolsharif Mosque in Kazan (the largest mosque of Europe) and St. Petersburg the Blue Mosque (originally it was she, the largest mosque in Europe). Notably absent from that list is the Moscow Cathedral Mosque, which was previously considered the main mosque of the country, but was arguably demolished in 2011. The most important Russian Buddhist temples are both in Kalmykia, the lone Buddhist republic of Europe, and areas closer to Mongolia, especially around Ulan-Ude in Buryatia and Kyzyl in Tuva.

Outside of Garden Ring Moscow center gradually gives way to suburban scenarios. However, here is one of the most famous attractions of the city, the Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery. Easily recognizable by the set of domes that stands behind turreted walls along the course of the Moscow River, the monastery was founded in 1524 to celebrate the capture of Smolensk, at the time under Lithuanian control, but its appearance was radically altered by the restructuring measures made between 1680 and 1690.

To access it pass by the Church of the Transfiguration, a red and white baroque building, and inside you you can see palaces, towers and really fascinating churches. Adjacent to it lies the eponymous cemetery, one of the most famous Moscow.

The calendar of festivals and events that are repeated annually is rich and varied. In winter, between December and January, it is held the traditional Festival of the December Nights, the most prestigious musical events in the capital, accompanied by art exhibitions organized at the Pushkin Museum. March is the month of the Golden Mask Festival, an exhibition focusing on the most successful theater companies and opera of the city, while in April there will be the Moscow Biennale, which is held in odd years and is focused on contemporary art.

With the summer season, from June to September, are held the Moscow International Film Festival, the country's biggest film festival, the Moscow International Beer Festival, the Russian beer festival and Goroda Den (Day of cities), which celebrates the founding of the settlement with parades, musical events and fireworks.

The climate is continental cold, characterized by severe and short summers rather warm winters. The extreme distance from the sea makes Moscow a particularly cold city, with temperatures in the winter are stably 5­10 degrees below zero in the maximum values and that can achieve minimum peaks of ­30/­35. The summer, however, while being of short duration, is particularly pleasant, with average values slightly lower than the maximum 20 degrees and sometimes exceeding 30 degrees. The precipitations are quite intense, and occur particularly frequently in the summer, with highs in July and August, but also in spring and autumn, when they can take snowy character.

As for transport and infrastructure, Moscow is one of the most advanced cities in Europe. The city airports are six: the Moscow Domodedovo, the busiest, which in 2008 recorded the transit of 20.5 million passengers well; the Sheremetyevo, which with its 15 million passengers a year is still one of the most important ports of Russia; the Moscow­Vnukovo; the Moscow­Bykovo; the Moscow­Ostafievor; and the Moscow­Tusino. After landing you will be confronted with the extensive but complex road and highway system that surrounds the capital, crucial link between Asia and Europe.

Alternatively you can take the train from one of the many downtown stations, from which the convoys depart even towards Vladivostok, the so­ called Trans Siberian line. Comfortable enough are also the river links along the course of the Moscow River. Moving in the center will be particularly easy thanks to the subway, in operation since 1935. Moscow is also home base for those who want to explore the Golden Ring, a series of cultural and artistic destinations that form a belt around the capital of Russia.

The Russian territory is usually made up of rugged mountainous zones and at the southern borders is the chain of the Caucasus, Altai mountains and in the Far East, the chain of the Caucasus start from Mount Elbrus. Almost all of the European part, is separated with the Ural mountain range, Heights of Moscow, Volga Upland. Eastern Siberia is instead mostly mountainous areas, generally very rough, which has the highest peaks of Kamchatka.

West Russia faces a short section on the Baltic Sea, while to the east the Pacific Ocean form the vast sea basins of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea; the long Arctic coastline is divided into large peninsulas rather stubby among the largest that of Taymyr, the Gyda and Jamal that form the basins of the White Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea. The main islands are the Novaya Zemlya, the Franz Josef Land, the New Siberian Islands, the Wrangel Island, and on the Pacific side, the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin.

The major Russian rivers are the Volga and the Ob, the Yenisei or Yenisey and Lena, to which are added, the Amur and Kolyma. Regarding the lakes, except the two largest, located on the southern borders Caspian Sea and Lake Baikal, the largest are located in the European part with Ladoga, Onega, Ilmen, Peipus Lake.

Russia has a long musical tradition and is well known for its composers and interpreters. No doubt you will find more orchestral performances in larger cities. Classical music is played in various theaters, where they are scheduled national concerts and traveling with weeks in advance. Besides that, the state supports traditional groups in smaller towns or even in the villages and groups of singers babushka are still a tradition in many areas.

In areas traditionally inhabited by ethnic groups not of Russian origin regions, you can meet ethnic music of all kinds, such as throat singing in Tuva or instruments of Čukotka. Sometimes only experts can distinguish the Cossack songs of the Ural Cossacks songs of Krasnodar. The professional jazz musicians meet at the Festival Jazz on the Volga in Yaroslavl. Walking along the main street on Sunday will surely be possible to listen to some guitar, saxophone or flute in any city.

Russian cuisine derives its rich and varied character to its vast and multicultural region. It is based on the peasant food of the rural population in an often harsh climate with a combination of plentiful fish, poultry, game, mushrooms, berries and honey. On the northern part of the ancient Silk Road, as well as the proximity of Russia to the Caucasus, Persia, and the Ottoman Empire it provide an unmistakably oriental character to its cooking methods (not so much in European Russia, but distinguishable in the North Caucasus). The popular Russian caviar is easily found, but prices may even exceed the cost of your entire trip. Dishes like beef stroganoff and chicken Kiev, pre-revolutionary era they still manage to find.

Russian specialties include Ikra, a sturgeon and salmon caviar, Pelmeni (ravioli stuffed with meat, especially popular in the regions of the Urals and Siberia), Blini (thin pancakes with white flour or buckwheat, similar to French crêpes), Black bread (rye bread, in a way similar to that used by the gastronomy North American but not as dense as the German variety), Piroshki (or Belyashi; small cakes or buns with sweet or savory filling), Golubtsy (cabbage rolls), Ikra Baklazhannaya (made with eggplant dish), Okroshka (cold soups based on kvass or sour milk), Shchi (cabbage soup) and green schi (sorrel soup, which can be served cold), Borscht (Ukrainian beet and cabbage soup), Vinaigrette (a salad of boiled beets, eggs, potatoes, carrots, pickles and other vegetables with vinegar, mustard, vegetable oil and/or mayonnaise), Olivier (Russian version of potato salad with peas, meat, eggs, carrots, and pickles), Shashlik (kebab from various republics of the Caucasus, the former Soviet Union), Seledka shuboy pod (fresh salted herring with Vinaigrette), Kholodets (or Studen; meat, garlic and carrots in meat), Kvass (or kvass, a refreshing drink made from fermented rye bread, sugar and yeast, similar to beers with low alcohol content) and Limonad (various soft drinks).

The Russians have their own versions of fast food restaurants ranging from cafeteria style serving prepackaged foods at street kiosks where you can find bliny, shawerma/gyros, piroshki/belyashi, stuffed potatoes, etc. Although their menus may not be in English, it is quite easy to indicate what you want (even possibly a photo of the dishes). A small dictionary Russian will be useful in non-tourist restaurants where you do not speak English the table service staff and the menu will be entirely in Cyrillic, but the prices are very reasonable. Soups and meat pies Russian meat are both excellent.

The champagne Soviet or, more accurately, spumante is served everywhere in the former Soviet Union at a reasonable price. The quality can be quite good, but syrupy. The good and genuine kvass is hard to find in the city. In rural areas there is more chance, but even there, only on the recommendation.

The Russian mafia is useful for inspiring fun movies, but it is not a threat to tourists. In the best of their cases and their girlfriends are a tourist attraction, as they often dine in areas frequented by foreigners. The smile in Russia is traditionally reserved for friends, and smiling at a stranger can make them uncomfortable.

The Russians, in fact, are very proud of their language and people will be significantly more detached, if you approach them talking directly in English. The travelers should not be surprised or indignant when their Russian male friends offer to pay the bill in restaurants, open all the doors in front of them, offering his hand to help down a small step or help them carry anything heavier of a bag; everything is not meant to patronize. On the other hand males travelers must understand that this is what Russian women expect from them.

Entrance Requirements

The visa application must be submitted well in advance (1-2 months), but by paying more (about € 70), approval can be obtained in three days instead of the usual 4-10 days. The visa, however, is subject to the Letter of Invitation. This can be obtained only by those tourist agencies or hotels accredited to do so by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Therefore it will be necessary to book the hotel through one of these subjects.

Note, however, that if you book a hotel for two days you will get a visa of an equivalent duration and not for a month so it is better to use an agency who, in return, release the saw. Scams abound on the net. Sites of agencies puppet promise to carry out the procedures relating to visas but once pocketed the money does not become more alive with those who have taken the bait. Some consulates do not accept letters of invitation sent by fax or email but require that the original is sent by mail carriers.

The visas for travel, business purposes and studies has a different procedure since they vary in subject and releases. Once you arrive in the Russian territory you will need to fill a sheet in duplicate with your own data. Of these the original is for the immigration office and will be handed over to customs, the other, duly stamped, will remain to us and must be given at the time to leave the country. As usual it is advisable to store it with the utmost care and not to lose it to avoid trouble, and financial penalties.

Those who enter with electronic devices of a certain value, will have to register them with customs. Customs officials often refuse to do so with the excuse that you do not need them. Instead you'll have to insist. The same recommendation applies to those who introduces ancient musical instruments in the country or who have this appearance.

There is an obligation to register within three days of arrival at an office of the Federal Migration Service (formerly OVIR). This burden is carried out from the hotel at which you are staying. If you have chosen a different accommodation (B&B) it will be necessary to turn to an agency for the endorsement of the passport. The operation must be repeated every time you change the city.

There is an exception for some cruise passengers arriving and departing from Russia by boat. They do not need a visa if they stay in Russia less than 72 hours. Some examples are the cruises on the Saimaa Canal from Lappeenranta (Finland) to Vyborg and cruises of the St. Peter Line to St. Petersburg from Helsinki, Tallinn and Stockholm. Do not extend the stay without a visa. If you overdo it, you will need to apply for an exit visa, and you will have to pay a fine of 500 €, and you cannot enter Russia with a visa waiver for the next five years. The process of obtaining a visa in this case can last more than a week, during which you must pay for your stay and food.

After arriving in Russia, you must fill out a landing card. As in most places, half is retained by the customs officers in and the other party must remain with your passport until you leave Russia. It is usually printed in both Russian and English, although other languages ​​may be available. Leaving from Russia, a landing card lost can be ignored by paying a nominal fine.

Usually, you will be allowed to enter and stay in Russia for the duration of the visa but the immigration officer may decide differently, although this is unlikely. Those who enter Russia with valuables or electronic musical instruments (mainly violins that seem ancient and expensive), antiques, large amounts of currency, or other objects are obliged to declare on a customs declaration card and must insist on having the card stamped by a customs officer on arrival.

Although officially the customs affirm that it is not necessary to declare such items, insist on a stamp on the statement. With this stamp you can avoid major problems (fines, confiscation) upon departure from Russia should the customs agent at departure decide that an object should have been declared upon entry.

Upon arrival in Russia and then on its arrival at each new city, you need to register within 7 days of arrival. The host in that city (not necessarily the one that issued the invitation) is responsible for the registration. The test recording is a sheet of paper with a large blue stamp on it. Registration costs money, it is troublesome and is generally not controlled after leaving Russia.

However, it's worth doing at least in the first city you visit. The larger hotels will not allow check in without seeing its own registration (if you've been in Russia for more than 7 days) and the corrupt cops who insist that the lack of recording your fault are more annoying and more expensive to pay respect the registration fee.

This law is a relic from the days of Soviet controlled internal migration. Today, the Russians should register if they move between cities. The official line is that these expensive pieces of paper with blue stamps, help control illegal immigration from the poorest to the southern borders of Russia in the countries of Central Asia, the Caucasus, China and even North Korea.

Extending the stay beyond the duration permitted by the visa, even for a few minutes, might force you to obtain a new visa. You can get a visa extension from the consular officer at an airport in return for payment of a fine if the excess stay is less than three days, but this is not guaranteed. In general, though, getting an extension will require an intervention by the sponsor, the payment of a fine, and a wait upto three weeks.

Be careful if the flight departs after midnight and be aware of the moment when the train crosses the border. The border guards do not even allow the departure to 10 minutes after the expiry of the visa! A common mistake is the train to Helsinki, entering Finland just after midnight.

If extending the visa was due to medical reasons, the Federal Migration Service may instead issue a repatriation certificate rather than an exit visa, which is valid to leave Russia within ten days from the issue.

Moscow and St. Petersburg are served by direct flights from most European capitals, and Moscow also has direct flights from many cities in East Asia, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East and North America. Non-stop flights from the US to Russia are offered by Singapore Airlines from Houston to Moscow, Domodedovo, Delta Air Lines from New York and Atlanta to Moscow, Sheremetyevo, United Airlines from Washington to Moscow Domodedovo and Aeroflot (from New York, Washington and Los Angeles to Moscow, Sheremetyevo). There are also non-stop services from Toronto and Montreal in Canada in Moscow, Domodedovo operated by Transaero.

There are three international airports in Moscow: Sheremetyevo in the north-west, in the south Domodedovo and Vnukovo in the southwest. Although each of them has a fast rail link (RUB320) for one of the main stations of the city, these stations are quite far apart, so travelling between airports are quite challenging, requiring several hours of transit between different airports flights. A taxi from any airport should cost about 1500 RUB (be prepared to negotiate hard). By public transport, the costs range from about 200 RUB for the buses in a little less than 700 RUB for Aeroexpress trains. The system is quite impractical so do not expect an easy transfer, convenient or easy.

There are airports in all big cities of Russia. Some international services can be found at Novosibirsk, Sochi, Vladivostok, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg. International service to other destinations is much more limited.

Traveling in Russia by car can be difficult. The roads may be poorly or not marked and poorly maintained, especially outside urban areas. Traffic numbers are not well marked, and direction signs are normally written only in Russian. The car rental services are just beginning to develop in big cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg, and are expensive.

Crossing the border by car is a special experience. There is no doubt that the trip by car is the best way to see the country, but it is risky undertaking recommended only for the brave and capable. Gasoline in some regions could be very bad; it is always best to find a service station of any known brand. The service is poor or expensive, and the high prices do not always correspond to a high quality. The campaign, lack of experience and mastery of the Russian language, can also be very dangerous.

Russian trains are, after all, comfortable, with a very friendly staff but no frills; They are not, however, particularly fast. They are good for night transfers from one city to another. Despite competition from the heavens, the Russians continue to use them for trips that last two days or even more.

The travel time can vary from several hours to several days. Note that there are more types of train between the two capitals that between two other cities in Russia: in addition to ordinary trains, there are fast trains (Sapsan) which run only during the day and cover the 650 km between Moscow and St. Petersburg in 4 hours. Some of the overnight trains are quite luxurious and these include the traditional Red Arrow and the newest, mock-tsarist, Nikolaevsky Express, complete with attendants in the nineteenth century uniform.

The express train from Moscow to St. Petersburg takes 5 hours of travel at a cost of 2,400 rubles; Trains are only slightly affected. No one in the Moscow train station speaks English, so if you are not familiar enough with Russian to buy the train ticket in person, you may want to purchase it online or through the concierge of your hotel or travel agent before departure; Note also that all signage inside the train station is entirely in Russian, so finding the right track can be difficult. The carriage of the express train restaurant is nicely decorated with real tablecloths, menus and an impressive wine list, but it is expensive than eating in the city before and after the trip.

Most Russian cities have bus connections with the city that the distance up to 5/6 hours away and beyond. Although typically are less comfortable than trains, the buses are sometimes a better choice in order to save time and it's worth to check availability whenever the train timetables do not fit like a glove to their needs. A small number of cities, notably Suzdal, are not served by train, and then the bus is the only alternative, in addition to a car clearly. Apart from regular buses, there are also private minibuses called marshrutka.

Historical attractions

The history of Russia is the main reason why tourists come to this country, following its charming appeal, sometimes surreal, often brutal, prompted by national saga. Derbent, in the Caucasian republic of Dagestan, is the most ancient city of Russia, dating back to 5,000 years ago. Home of the legendary Gates of Alexander, the fortress-walled city, controlled successively by Caucasian Albania, Persian empires, and the Mongols until its conquest in the eighteenth century by the Russian Empire was the key to 1500 years to control the trade between western Russia and the Middle East.

Other ancient peoples of Russia have left less evidence of their civilization, but it is possible to find traces of the Kurgan people in the Urals, in particular the ruins of the pagan shrines and burial mounds around the old capital Tobolsk and throughout the Republic of Khakassia.

Between the best preserved and most interesting cities of Russia is definitely Staraya Ladoga, considered as the first national capital, established by the Viking Rurik. Veliky Novgorod, founded in 859, was the most important city of the Kievan Rus in modern Russia with Kiev itself in modern Ukraine.



Oymyakon, the coldest village in the world

Oymyakon or Ojmjakon is a village with about 500 inhabitants, located by the Indigirka river in the Northeast of the Sakha Republic in eastern Siberia. This village is the coldest village land where in January, temperature go up to -50 ° C, although the lowest temperature recorded dates back to February 18, 2013 and was well -74 ° C. It is said that in the early years of the twentieth century the Ojmjakon temperature has dropped more than once below -82 ° C in 1916.

It's what makes the life of humans and animals, in this place, a real struggle for survival. Originally it was inhabited only in the short summer by nomadic reindeer hunters. The local population live in coal heated houses, in order to absorb as much heat feeding on reindeer meat, horse, and fish, which gets frozen moments after being caught.



What makes the village the coldest of the earth? The area is affected by the presence of Russian-Siberian anticyclone which, combined with low exposure to the sun during the winter months, means that the temperatures of Eastern Siberia continue to fall to record levels.

Due to its particular location in the geographic chessboard, Oymyakon offers its indomitable inhabitants winters with solar exposure of only 3 hours and in summers, on the contrary, the sun is present 21 hours in a single day, with temperatures that can exceed 30 °.

The main event at Oymyakon is the Pole of Cold Festival, which is held in March. Regular visitors of the festival is Santa Claus from Lapland, and Father Frost from Veliky Ustyug. The main event is a rally of 1270 km of snow-covered roads in Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia, and Oymyakon, but there are shows, a garment fair, art and cuisine of northern peoples, a race of reindeer, a fishing contest and more.

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