The Russian folklore

The Russian folklore

Travel tales

The Russian folklore

When my friend and I planned our trip to Russia, it was an absolute bucket list moment for me because Russia was going to be a hint of discovery, exploration and a lot of unknown waiting for us.

My maiden visit in Russia was to Moscow and St Petersburg in mid-September last year. We were welcomed by the beautiful sunny city of Moskva  and I couldn’t have been more excited about not having to wear my gloves, boots and overcoats that I’d carried because its usually very cold at that time of the year.

Moscow blends the old and the new — one will see the most modern infrastructure and systems yet soaked deeply in history and culture at the same time.

Our first stop was the State Tretyakov Gallery which boasts of a unique collection of Russian art that includes masterpieces from thousands of years. The Gallery was founded by a Russian merchant and patron of the arts, Pavel Tretyakov. Next, we headed to the famous Red Square. No photograph can do justice to the beauty of the St Basil’s Cathedral here.

Kremlin has a great historic and political relevance since the 13th century and has been the living quarters of monarchy. The vibe at the Kremlin is chirpy and infectious with kids running around, street vendors selling Matryoshka dolls, flavoured honey and cheese. 

The Bolshoi Theatre is not too far from the Red Square. This historical theatre has been holding ballet and opera performances since 1985.  Russian Ballet is an experience I highly recommend; the performers transport you to an entirely different place and time. Just opposite the Bolshoi Theatre is a huge Karl Marx statue — the only one I spotted in Russia. This was our last day in Moscow.

After 5 days of indulgence — eating ‘pelmeni’, ‘borscht’, ‘shashlik’, ‘stroganoff’, visiting the ‘banya’ (Russian traditional bath), exploring the deep metro stations, street music artists and dinner on Moskva river cruise, Moscow had set the bar pretty high. We were set to explore St Petersburg.

We took a high speed train to St Petersburg and had the best train ride ever, learning the Russian alphabet from our co-passengers. When we entered the city, I was not sure if I was in Russia or Europe. St Petersburg has the most architecturally gorgeous buildings I have seen. On our first day, we visited the Hermitage Museum. It houses more than 3 million pieces of art showcasing the development of human civilisation. We then walked to St Isaac’s Cathedral which is built in the honour of King Peter and it is nothing less than an architectural marvel, both on the exteriors and interiors with a gold plated dome. The next day, we visited the Peterhof Palace, located 30 km west of St Petersburg. This palace is extravagant with a series of palaces and gardens but the real highlight is a series of more than 100 fountains and canals. These palaces are often referred to as the ‘Russian Versailles’. We also explored the ‘Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood’. It is a traditional Russian orthodox church with onion domes and has a very lively vibe with live performers, cafes and canals surrounding it.

The best part was exploring on foot, getting lost in those lanes and stopping by at the spots which Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Tolstoy and Pushkin wrote about. The diverse mix of old, new and timeless that is neither Asia nor Europe, but still on the cusp and holding its own uniqueness is going to evoke a plethora of emotions including surprise, shock, happiness, intimidation and indulgence — get ready to soak in and enjoy everything that Russia has to offer!
How to get there
I took Emirates via Dubai. The round trip came upto  60,000. Where to stay
In Moscow, we stayed at Radisson Blu. The room tariff was  7,500 per night. In St. Petersburg, we stayed at Hotel Solo Moyka 82. The room tariff was  8,500 per night.

(The author can be contacted on aditichauhan86@gmail.com)

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