Blogs from Russia, Europe


Europe » Russia » Siberia » Omsk December 1st 2023

Unfortunately, I have had more than my share of bad Russian vodka. Here is my experience: According to Pictures in History: It's a fact that seems too wild to be true, but it's actually real: Russia ran out of vodka celebrating the end of World War II. On May 9th 1945, after Nazi Germany had surrendered, Russians celebrated with such enthusiasm and vigor that they drank all of their vodka reserves dry! It was an incredible display of jubilation from a country that had endured so much suffering during the war years, and one that will never be forgotten. The celebration also marked the beginning of a new era for the Soviet Union, as they emerged victorious in the conflict and began rebuilding their nation. So next time you raise your glass to toast a special ... read more
Really bad vodka

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal October 9th 2023

Savoteur says these are the worst cuisines in the world. I have not been to all of them, but I will comment on the ones that I have endured. Iceland-the worst, boring, bland and five times more expensive than it should be. Try the fermented shark! England-I have never had a good meal in England, except for Indian food and the fabulous fish and chips at Wimbledon. Steak and kidney pie are for suckers! Australia-If you stick to Chinatown or seafood, I think it is more than passable. If you want wild game, this is the place. You can have the Vegemite! But the Aussies make up for it with their beer drinking! Mongolia-My friends on the Trans-Siberian Railway said the food was worse than Russia. The absolute worst was fermented horse milk. Kazakhstan-More fermented horse ... read more
Grilled fish and ??
Typical meal on the Trans Siberian

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok March 6th 2023

Have you ever been somewhere, and wish you had not? It has happened to me a few times. I have also avoided some places at the last minute, like the Ukraine. The Impulse Traveler listed ten places to never go back. "Never Go Back" was a movie with Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. Here is their list, though I agree and do not agree on a few places. Rio de Janeiro Yes, they have a plethora of favelas, but the other parts of Rio are amazing, fun, interesting, and very different. The food is great, the beaches are astounding, the bikinis are tiny, and the people are friendly. I would go back anytime! Paris I would heartily agree back in the 70s and 80s, but it has ... read more
Never Go Back!
On the Trans Siberian Railway

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow September 4th 2022

Over the years, combined with my love for trains, metros, and public transportation, I have been fortunate to find some of the most beautiful stations in the world. Here are a few of my favorites (with help from tripsavvy): Komsomolskaya Station, Moscow (above) With its crystal chandeliers, marble pillars, and golden mosaics, you’d almost expect Moscow’s commuters to waltz through Komsomolskaya Station on their way to the platform. Constructed in 1952, the space was inspired by a wartime speech of Stalin, and the creative duo behind its extravagance (Artist Pavel Korin and architect Alexey Schusev) even won the Stalin prize for their work. Beyond its beauty is a blatant political mission. The station was also designed to promote Soviet propaganda, so you’ll find sculptures of fallen leaders and scenes depicting moments of Russian history. I was ... read more
St Pancras station, London
Santiago metro
Moscow train station

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk April 21st 2022

From Mental Floss: Any natural body of inland water that feels bigger than a pond can constitute a lake. The lakes of the world vary greatly, with some sites closely resembling seas in many ways. This applies to Lake Baikal in southeast Siberia. The Unesco World Heritage Site is the deepest lake on Earth, measuring 5387 feetat its maximum depth. Lake depth can be measured in two ways: By the distance from the surface to its deepest point, and by the average depth of the lake as a whole. The Russian lake holds the world record in both these categories. Its mean depth is 2486 feet,... read more
Baikal trawler
Love the smoked omul

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk March 30th 2022

Little known, at least to me: Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish speaking country in Africa. Sao Tome and Principe (two island country) is Africa's second smallest country. Nauru is the world's smallest island nation. The Vatican and Monaca are smaller. Moldova is one of Europe's least visited countries. It has only existed since 1991. Tuvalu and Montserrat are still part of the Commonwealth. The newest country in the world is South Sudan. Canada has the longest coastline in the world. Greece has the longest coastline in Europe. Russia has 11 time zones. Russia is the country to have most consecutive number of time zones. Russian time zones are UTC-2, UTC-3, UTC-4, UTC-5, UTC-6, UTC-7, UTC-8, UTC-9, UTC-10, UTC-11 and UTC-12. (And I went through each one in 2014) The highest point in Japan is Mount ... read more
Sparsely populated Mongolia
Great Barrier Reef

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg March 16th 2022

Originally founded by Peter the Great in 1714 Sestroretsk is a seaside resort town known for its sandy beach on the Gulf of Finland but today with Anna it was not sand we saw but snow as she walked on the frozen Gulf of Finland ! As she walked to the beach area we passed early 20th-century wooden dachas in the art nouveau style. It was such a beautiful tour, filled with all the information that we are used to receiving from Anna. During these difficult times it was so lovely to be sharing this beautiful walk with Anna and to hear her shrieks of laughter as a kite ice skater wanted to get close. read more

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok March 5th 2022

This was my last email from Russia, back on May 26, 2014, probably sent from St. Petersburg. Some of you ask if I would go to Russia again, or even take the Trans Siberian Railway again. Probably not. Once was enough. This is my last email (with some updates and additions)from Russia. Many of you are thankful. Back when Siberia was the land of dispossessed white Russians, the little towns did not offer much. It did offer space and quiet. Some day you could hear your watch ticking at high noon on main street. Life was so dull, that anyone receiving a telegram was expected to circulate it as reading material for the entire town.Most of the cities and towns along the TSR are gray, drab, and depressing. Meeting ... read more
Boarding the TSR in Vladivostok
Baikal show in May

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow March 4th 2022

Here is the last entry of our 5 weeks spent in Russia in these trouble times of 2022. Initially we were going to leave St Petersburg on the 12th of March, but we ended up re-booking our flight five days ahead of the schedule time. Result of this was our stay in Moscow would be shortened by few days too. The think I miss about the last 3 blogs is not to have been able to share great pictures of the great friends we met over the last 5 weeks. But let say that this part will stay private. We landed late Friday afternoon in Moscow arriving from Sochi and would leave on the Sunday late afternoon by the speed train to St Petersburg. Little point to note, in Moscow you spend a lot more time ... read more
Kremlin to ourselves...
Sunday morning market...
St Basil...

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal March 2nd 2022

Most of you know that I love train travel. I have taken Amtrak's cross-country trains, as well as the Trans-Siberian Railway. I try to use public transportation whenever I can, particularly in Japan, Europe, and here in the U.S. Along the way, I have met some of the most interesting people. And what better way to really see the country you are visiting? Let's explore some lesser-known facts about train travel. You might be surprised to hear that the US has the largest railway network in the world, and by a large margin. With a total route length over 155,342 miles (250,000km), it's two-and-a-half times longer than the second-largest network in China. It's the US freight rail network that makes up 80% of the staggering length while passenger rail, run by Amtrak, is comprised of m ... read more
Union Station, Seattle
With the providnitsa on the TSR

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