"Dobro pozhalovat'!" Russia by travelmad478
Russia Travel Guide: 14,414 reviews and 36,720 photos
I first visited Russia in 1988, when it was still part of the Soviet Union, and have spent more time in this country than any other outside the US. Russia was my home from 1993-1996, and I still visit today. It's a place that alternately drives me crazy and draws me in--as you'll find too if you visit there.
The photos on these pages were taken over the years 1988-1996. This period spans just eight years, but the change that has taken place makes it seem like some of the earliest pictures were taken in another universe. Like many citizens of the former Soviet Union, I too confess to a little nostalgia for the pre-breakup days--although it has to be said that the vastly greater availability of creature comforts in Russia today is a welcome change! The photo here was taken in summer 1988, in Moscow's Red Square, back when a visit to this spot was a required pilgrimage for all Moscow schoolchildren (and to a great extent, all Soviet citizens visiting the capital). I really miss seeing school kids dressed in the old way: the huge hair bows for girls, the short pants for boys...somehow, today's jeans and warm-up jackets don't really hold the same appeal.
I've tried to include on this Russia page a varied look at some Russian cities that don't get their own pages on VT, as well as some of the typical sights that are common to the Russian countryside. I'd urge visitors to Russia to get out into the countryside or the smaller cities beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg. It's a really different world out there. Life in the provinces, which in many ways has changed very little in the last 30 years, still drives a lot of how today's Russia works and how its population thinks. If you experience it, you'll get a much better understanding of why Russia is the country it is today.
One thing that always intrigues me about Russia is that a lot of its rural and provincial scenery is repeated almost identically across the whole country, from the western reaches all the way to Vladivostok. It's a product of first Tsarist, and then Soviet, empire-building that continually spread the Russian "narod" (people or nation) eastward through the 19th and 20th centuries. This sameness is typified in a very funny Russian movie that came out a few decades ago, in which a drunken New Year's reveler ends up waking up in a different city after an unconscious journey. He opens his eyes, finds his way to a street with the same name as his own, a building that has the same address as his own and is identical to it, and an apartment that has the same number. He puts his key in the lock, and the door opens right up! If you've ever been to more than one "Lenin Prospect" or "October Street" in Russia, you'll know why this film worked so well!
Provincial capitals: this is Murmansk, one of my favorite cities in Russia. I've visited this far northern city twice,... more travel advice
Another city on the Golden Ring is Sergeyev Posad (formerly Zagorsk), home to a beautiful monastery complex where I took... more travel advice
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