Russia: Ten insider tips for a trip to Russia

Russia: Ten insider tips for a trip to Russia

Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Lake Baikal: popular tourist destinations in Russia can be counted on one hand. If you really want to get to know the largest country in the world, you should pay attention to this advice.

Russia away from Red Square, Volga River cruise and Saint Petersburg Museum Tour is not a destination for everyone. Most cities are not beauties, people seem rough at first, the distances are enormous.

Again and again I was declared crazy on my trip by Russians - because they don't understand why I visited their huge country instead of Thailand or Mallorca. You can definitely fall for Russia if you get involved with its peculiarities. These ten tips will help.

Whoever enters a Russian shop or restaurant usually triggers the joy that one would also bring to a medium-sized cockroach on the doorstep. First you are ignored, then you are perceived as a disruptive factor because you interrupt the well-deserved break. Finally, the award is announced in a tone that film villains use for sentences like "Make it cold".

And yet I have seen it change several times. I asked in fragile Russian for the way to the train station, and suddenly my counterpart took all the time in the world to explain it to me and asked about my journey and origin. I ordered another blini and the landlady handed me the coffee. A little patience and looseness often pays off to give people the chance to thaw.

One of the most spectacular roads in the country leads from Gorno-Altaisk to Kosh-Agach in the Siberian Altai Mountains. A road trip between four thousand meter peaks, with wild camels and raging rivers along the way and sweaty evenings in the Banja steam bath. For the most beautiful hiking or jeep tours into the wilderness, however, outdoor fanatics should plan a little in advance: For this they need a permit - for example near the 4800-meter-high Belucha - which must be applied for months in advance.

Russians sit on their suitcases before traveling, caress the noses of sculptures, do not whistle in closed rooms, do not look into broken mirrors. Hardly any country has more superstitious traditions, and the locals like to tell foreign visitors about it.

Everyone can test for themselves what is on the go, for example when it comes to what itching says about their own future depending on the affected body region:

Of course, no trip is complete without a workshop in the typical consumption of the "most honest drink in the world" (because vodka does not taste good, but only serves to generate noise). Most important rules: Never mix the drink and lots of finger food, for example pickled porcini mushrooms, cold-smoked pike or potatoes with dill.

The table conversation loosened up discussions about the following vocabulary, which is only available in Russian: Zapoi (state of drunkenness for several days), nedoperepil (drunk than healthy but not as drunk as you could be), suschnjak (the feeling in the throat after a booze Night).

There is probably no better place to go ballet than the Mariinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg. The traditional house is experiencing its 235th season this year, and little has changed since it opened. Magnificent sets, creaking wooden floorboards, a huge chandelier on the ceiling. And every evening dancers and musicians create something that is currently hardly associated with Russia: lightness, beauty and elegance.

Of course, the immense distances entice you to book flights. But without a long train journey with overnight bed, instant noodle dinner and a few drinks, Russia would not be understood. When traveling in Siberia, you get a real impression of the actual size of the country when you drive 18 hours in a row through a birch forest that always looks the same.

And yet, as in every successful cartoon, there is also some truth to it. The songs are clicked millions of times, and singer Sergeij Schnurow, known for his vulgar failures, lives rock'n'roll like no other. Recommended for travel preparation, but because of the many words from the vulgar language "Russian Mat" it is better not to listen in the presence of conservative native speakers!

While the Russian language is quite a challenge, the characters are easier to master than you think. If you spend a few days working intensively on it, you will soon be able to read town signs, menus and billboards. And since many words are similar to German or English terms, this helps enormously with orientation on the go.

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With its temples (photo), the Buddhist Republic of Kalmykia is more reminiscent of Tibet than of Moscow. At a larynx singing concert in the Republic of Tuva, you feel like you are in Mongolia. And in Yakutsk, the coldest city in the world, you can taste what fermented mare's milk or fish served in the ice block taste like, and learn all about a mythology of decorative elves that could compete with the "Lord of the Rings".

The dumplings filled with minced meat with smetana (sour cream) are addictive. That doesn't change the knowledge that their name literally means "ear bread" anymore. In the city of Izhevsk in Udmurtia, a monument several meters high was even erected for the Russian ravioli. Rightly so.

Beautiful country. And if you have a visa, you can travel around as you like. Just like in Thailand or Mallorca. Except, of course, near the 4800 meter high Belucha, just as an example.

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