Spasiba Russia 🇷🇺

You can love any country but you can never love the country as much as you can miss them.

Each time I travel, I come out of it a little stronger, and at some point I realize that there are more pain of leaving something behind.

Pretravel

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find travel partners who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more.

They are Impulsive and they don’t just say they’ll make plans to catch up with their buddies, they’ll actually make it happen and show up. My buddy Ramakrishna Venkatesan is one of those kind.

Rama asked: “Will you be free to travel by mid of August” I replied “Yes”.

Guess what he did next.

He just grabbed my phone and selected the flights and made me book tickets right there.

Impulsive people are fun and make the best buddies. For me this trip wouldn’t have happened without him.

Its always better to travel with people who always crave for a new experience.

Visa

I applied for a Single entry tourist visa which allows foreign nationals to cross the state border of the Russian Federation once when entering the Russian Federation and once when leaving the country.

Russian visa can be obtained at local Russian Embassy or Consulate. To have a visa issued you would need
 
1. An original invitation from Russia
A tourist invitation for Russian Tourist Visa is the easiest and cheapest type of Russian visa to get. It is a single entry visa invitation valid for the specified duration of your stay in Russia, up to 30 days. Visa support documents for Tourist Visas are accepted by most Russian Consular Departments as faxed or scanned copies. However, for some nationalities and some departments the original invitation is required. (Make sure you get a reliable voucher because some of the travel agency are blacklisted. Before you make the payment for travel voucher, you can call the respective consulate and confirm which are the whitelisted agencies so that you can book accordingly.)

2. Filling the application form
If you are from India you can fill out electronic visa application on the website of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

3. Applying for Visa at a Visa Center
Submit your documents and the visa application form to the selected Visa Center after scheduling an appointment.

Getting Packed

I became really interested in the idea of what it would be like to live entirely out of one bag for a while. The purpose is to evaluate my own connections to spending money on possessions, how living like that might alter one’s finances, and whether shifting to a much more minimalist lifestyle could actually work.

I really encourage you to try out the “one bag challenge.” Make it your goal for a week or two weeks or even a month to live as much as you can out of the contents of one bag or suitcase and one backpack. Try to get all of your clothing, hygiene needs, entertainment, work, and even food out of those bags and just see how it goes for you. You might come to some really interesting conclusions about how you live your “normal” life, conclusions that may change how you spend and save your money.

I hope most of you would have seen What’s In Your Backpack? scene from Up In The Air movie.

We all carry around unnecessary ‘baggage’ with us which makes each day harder than it needs to be and holds us back from really doing what we want which is what makes the “What’s In Your Backpack” so relevant to each and every one of us.

>>Bonus: Here’s my travel checklist <<

Ready For Takeoff

Amidst the heavy rain I managed to reach Chennai International Airport with the fear of missing my flight. Once the security check is over I flied to Delhi to catch my Moscow flight.

Landed Safe

Moscow is many things to many people, and everyone finds their own reasons to visit and keep coming back.

It’s a best place to unravel the layers of history that envelop this part of the world. As the founding site, and some say the very heart, of Russia, this city is a treasure trove of monuments, fortresses, churches, and museums built to remember the heroes and battles of its past.
 
Metro Tour In Moscow:
The Metro in Moscow especially is almost a tourist attraction in and of itself — the stations dating back to the 1930s are breathtaking, resembling underground palaces more than they do your average metro station. With marble walls and floors, bas-reliefs, chandeliers, and even mosaics and stained glass windows, I would recommend taking the Metro even if you don’t need to just to see some of these stations.

Thanks to the combination of mafia portrayals in Hollywood movies. Take it all with a huge grain of salt, and don’t let it dissuade you from exploring Moscow’s many cultural wonders, from top-notch exhibits some of the world’s most gorgeous subway stations replete with stained glass, marble and intricate mosaics.

As someone rightly said, We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.

Saint Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. If you are heading there for the first time, I am so happy for you, you will surely have a great time! It was fun holding a city map and discover the city and its surroundings, there are so many great cathedrals and churches in the city that requires your visit.

I’m already plotting when I might be able to go back to St. Petersburg during the summer for the White Nights and to see some of the palaces

Remember, you haven’t been to Russia if you haven’t seen Saint Petersburg.

My Study

I’m no good at anthropology, but most of my trip has an hidden agenda of studying people throughout the world, their evolutionary history, how they behave, adapt to different environments, communicate and socialise with one another.

Gaining a little understanding of cultural and ethnic differences and learning how people’s perspectives, beliefs and practices fit into a wider social, political and economic context is crucial in today’s globalised world. Take a look at some of my findings.

Religion:
Religion has always been a primary component of Russian life, even during times of oppression, There are nearly 5,000 registered religious associations in Russia.

More than half follow the Russian Orthodox Church. Islam is the second largest religion; about 10% to 15% of Russians practice Islam.
 
Arts
Ballet is a popular notable art form coming out of Russia. Founded in 1776, the Bolshoi Ballet is a classical ballet company based at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and known throughout the world.

The Mariinsky Ballet in Saint Petersburg is another famous ballet company in Russia.

Russian nesting dolls are well-known symbols of the country. These sets of dolls, known as matrioshka dolls, consist of a wooden figure that can be pulled apart to reveal another smaller version of the same image inside, and so on, often with six or more dolls nested inside one another.

The painting of each doll, which can be extremely elaborate, usually symbolizes a Russian peasant girl in traditional costume.

Music
Russian traditional music specifically deals with the folk music traditions of the ethnic Russian people. It does not include the various forms of art music, which in Russia often contains folk melodies and folk elements or music of other ethnic groups living in Russia.

Literature
The Golden Age of Russian Literature is notably not a term often employed in literary criticism.

Fiction-writing in Russia has always been serious business. In a society without freedom, the great writers were the truth-tellers, the voice of the voiceless, and the conscience of a nation.

From the early 1830s, Russian literature underwent an astounding golden age, beginning with the poet Alexander Pushkin and culminating in two of the greatest novelists in world literature, Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace” and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” and “The Brothers Karamazov”.

Architecture:
Colorfully painted onion domes are commonplace in Russian architecture and are predominant atop church structures. It has been speculated that they represent burning candles or vaults to heaven and often appear in groups of three representing the Holy Trinity.

There are the famous ones like St. Basil’s in Moscow and the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg. There are churches that survived the Soviet years, and others that were destroyed and have only been rebuilt in the last two decades. There are even a handful of churches inside the walls of the Kremlin.

The city of Novgorod preserved its architecture during the Mongol invasion. The first churches were commissioned by the princes; however, after the 13th century merchants, guilds and communities began to commission cathedrals. The citizens of 13th-century Novgorod were noted for their shrewdness, diligence and prosperity, expanding from the Baltic to the White Sea. The architecture in Novgorod did not begin to flourish until the turn of the 12th century.

Russian food and drink
One of the most well-known traditional Russian foods that may seem strange to an outsider is borshch. This is a beet soup that is full of vegetables and meat and is typically served with a dollop of sour cream, a staple of many Russian dishes.

1,000 years ago, when Greek monks spread Christianity to Russia, they brought with them more than just the Bible. They brought a grain, a seed, so magical, nutritious and delicious that it struck an instant chord with the Slavic soul — and the Russian stomach.

That grain was buckwheat.

And because the first people to cultivate it here were Greeks, the Russians called it grechka. Ever since, Russians have been boiling it and baking it, making porridge and pancakes too.

Vodka is a popular alcoholic drink traditionally made from the distillation of fermented potatoes. Beer and tea are also widely consumed.


So, overall, Russia really surprised me — but in a good way. 
I felt safe the entire time, I wasn’t sure what to expect more as an Indian because I was more of a nomad.

Key Takeaways

  • The world is a safe place.
  • Leave your comfort zone.
  • Appreciate other cultures.
  • Make friends with strangers.
  • Find beauty in small things.
  • Never judge anyone.
  • Pick your travel partner wisely.
  • Shit happens, accept and move on.
  • Going home is going to suck.
  • You travel for you. This is not a competition.

>>Free Tip, Take it<< 
I beg you to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Book tickets, get a backpack and go somewhere. Have your mind blown. Eat interesting food. Dig some interesting people. Have an adventure. Be careful. Come back and you’re going to see your country differently.

Believe me it could be your life-changing experience.

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