Borscht

Borscht is one of the most popular sour soup in several Eastern European cuisine including Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian, Lithuanian, Romanian and Ashkenazi Jewish cuisines.The variety most common includes beetroots which gives the dish a distinctive red color. Borscht derives from an ancient soup originally cooked from pickled stems, leaves and umbels of common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), a…

The Dacha

If you’ve spent more than a few weeks in Russia, you surely must have bumped into the whole concept of “dacha”, the country cottage where Russians go to get away from the city on weekends or during the summer. This custom is actually so widespread that a real exodus takes place in Moscow every weekend, so much…

Matryoshki

The matryoshka is probably the most popular symbol of Russia, and the most common souvenir. It is basically a nested doll made of wood divided in two halves that can be split apart and which contains increasingly smaller versions of itself, from a minimum of three up to 25 or even more. It is usually painted to…

Untranslatable Russian Words

Russian is such a rich language, full of shades of meaning, and many of its words are literally not translatable. This makes it both a nightmare to learn but also incredibly interesting, and being able to speak it is probably the only true way to actually understand Russians and how their minds work. Here are some…

VKontakte – the Russian Facebook

If you live in Russia for a while, it won’t take you more than a couple of weeks to realize that Facebook and Twitter that are not the biggest social media. People actually use another platform: VK, “VKontakte”. I personally realized this when I started to notice that I was missing out on most of…

White Nights

“It was a wonderful night, such a night as it is only possible when we are young, dear reader.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky, White Nights While the phenomenon of the “White Nights” or “Midnight Sun” is common to many northern cities, in no other place like in Saint Petersburg is it more celebrated, as no other…

Samovars

Samovars are a cultural symbol in Russia, as getting together and drinking tea around these ornate devices is part of Russian tradition. References to samovars are indeed commonly found both in Russian literature, like in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and Russian art, like in Malevich’s painting “Samovar”. But what is a samovar? The word literally means “self-boiler”, which is a…

How to estimate your budget

The biggest question when planning a trip on the Transsiberian is probably: “How much money do I need?” No worries, here are some guidelines to calculate your budget. Obviously, if you’re pockets are full and you wanna splurge, the prices can easily go up as your add comforts to your trip, but, assuming you’re sort of…

How does a Russian train look like?

So what should you expect when boarding a Russian train? Well, first of all, Russian trains usually have three classes: 1) First class (SV) = 2-berth compartments. It is the most comfortable type of carriage, it has a fold-down table between the beds, personal reading lights and a sliding, lockable door. There are 2 wash rooms and…

Kazakhstan

July 15. Almaty, Kazakhstan. I wake up upon landing and my neck hurts terribly from having slept all crooked up. Whatever, I don’t even care about the pain anymore, I just need a bed. We find a taxi with the help of a Kazakh guy Gian met on the plane and we’re all relieved at this…

Contacts

Who are we? We are three Italian friends who met in Moscow during our year at MGIMO university to complete our Double Degrees. We decided that our Russian experience couldn’t end with a simple flight home so we spent our last two months exploring this great country and well, hopefully what we learned may be useful to…

Kyrgyzstan

July 18. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. We’re going to Kyrgyzstan today! We head to Sairan bus station early in the morning, buy our ticket to Bishkek for about 1300 Tenge and find our marshutka. A crowd of people, all locals, is already waiting on the platform, and since we know the marshutka’s gonna leave whenever all its…