So long and thanks for all things Russian   Leave a comment

Russia is now behind us and China ahead.  It’s time to reflect.  I enjoyed my time there but certainly for the last couple of weeks I was ready to leave.  There is some breathtaking architecture to see, fascinating culture to experience and long history to explore. But, it beyond belief that given how much of the world that can speak English, as first or second language, hardly any of the museums had English translations.  It feels like the Russians haven’t twigged that tourism could make them a heck of a lot of Roubles. These were some major museums too like The History of Russia, St Basils Cathedral and the Cosmonaut museum.  I’ve got to mention the service industry, for example train stations, metros, buses, even bookshops.  The staff appeared very suspicious of us, unhelpful and rude.  Of particular note were women over 50.  This was quite a problem where the service industry was mainly made up of this age group.  It could be that this age group still consider us the ‘enemy’ from the Soviet days?  I don’t think they got that we just wanted to visit their beautiful country.  Often getting the simplest task accomplished was a challenge or battle.  Accept no for an answer and you’d had it.  Persistence was always necessary.  We have been looked after and treated with friendship by all the hostels we have stayed at.  Off the top of my head, Godzilla hostel in Moscow (during our epic visa enforced stay) offered top notch service, the help the ladies at Trans Sib in Irkutsk gave us organising a bus to Lake Baikal and the alternative accommodation the owner of the Yekaterinburg got us due to over booking. There were many more I could mention.

To conclude though.  Despite some of the negatives above, visit Russia. Some words of advice, book rail tickets before you get there unless you speak top draw Russian, have plenty of money (it is as expensive as UK) and sample the vodka!

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at stefanpalmer.photium.com

Stefan Palmer

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Posted 10/08/2011 by Stefan Palmer in Russia

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