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Just back from Russia


sigistenz
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Hi - just spent individually 3 weeks in Moscow and Kostroma/Volga. I have no Russian roots and my Russian is very basic, I just wondered what it would be like. Well, people are very very nice, but the country is not touristic at all. :shock:

As an individual traveler you are much better off in France or Britain or Germany. My postcards from Moscow to Europe from 3 weeks ago haven't arrived yet.

Coins in circulation are 10 rubles, 5 rubles, 2 rubles, 1 ruble, 50 kopek and even 10 kopeks, the latter being a small fraction of a penny or EURO cent. Any questions regarding present day Russia?

Sigi

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It's definitely not a country as touristic like Western Europe. Just have to watch it in April where you have ugly thugs walking around - was bashed in the middle of street bright daylight. But again this is more than 10 years ago so things would have changed drastically. This is when you have 10 ruble notes still circulating and bimetal coins were starting to appear. 5 ruble notes were uncommon.

 

On the hindsight, if you know where to look, it can be a big eye opener. Yaroslavl and St Petersburg are good examples. Moscow metro is equally impressive.

 

That said Sigi, was a lot of the 10 ruble coins bimetal or the plated commemorative coins? Heard the bimetal coins disappeared quite quickly.

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Sigi, did you visit numismaic club in Moscow ? Museums ? Flea markets ? Book stores ? Bolshoi Teater?

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Fashion has a 20 years memory span :) ... They are back! I haven't been back since 1998 and kind of jealous of you SIgi. I love to go back for a visit. Moscow is good for a day or two, if you are a tourist. If you know where to go and what you want to see, you would be surprised by how many interesting places you could see. St. Petersburg is a class A European city in terms of architecture. Gold circle is a run around the historic religious places with beautiful cathedrals and such. There are things to see in Russia, just not enough time, or preparation. Life for single travellers I would expect a little tougher than for a group. Groups bring money to the country and generally liked. Single travellers are a bit suspicious even now and easier targets for people who like making quick bucks legally or not so. Post is experiencing problems in Russia at the moment, so it may be another 3 weeks for the cards to arrive. I am glad you are back in one piece Sigi. :)

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Sigi, did you see russian bears on the streets there? :bhyper: Did you try russian vodka? :bthumbsup:

 

Do you mean the fake synthetic crap they sell as vodka, which can blind you or kill you? As far as alcohol goes, I would travel to Georgia to drink real georgian wine and brandy. Wine is amazing, and real Georgian brandy 20 years+ (I tried 25) puts most XO cognacs to shame.

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What I meant by "not touristic" is partly due to my poor knowledge of the language. I could say simple things but didn't understand much of the replies. The town is not as "open" as here, no temptation to take a snack or a drink, no shop windows invite to enter. Security people in black are everywhere, you are being watched even in a small grocery.

The 10-ruble coins are small and yellowish, monometal, no commems.

Yes, men's shoes look longer in Russia. But otherwise I did not look very different, wore shorts and sandals like many.

Knowing that old coins may not be taken out I did not look for coin clubs. On flea markets I saw some obvious fakes of old rubles and a few lousy Catherine II piataks. Not understanding much Russian I did not care for Bolshoi theater, book stores, etc.

In the town of Kostroma, 250.000 inhabitants, there is no international book or newspaper to be found, only Russian language publications.

Russian wine is miserable and western wine is very expensive.

As to vodka, it accompanies every meal. The first round is on the guest, the 2nd one on the parents, the 3rd one on the ladies, etc.,etc. There is a wide price range for vodka, from 150 to more than 1000 rubles. At 500 rubles you get a litre of decent stuff, like the Siberian "5 lakes".

Sigi

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If you are there for site seeing, you better off going with the group and a guide. It has history and is proud of it. Vodka is part of culture and it's Russian disaster as much as whiskey in Scotland and beer in Germany. Russia is not so much a show off country for single tourists. What were you expecting to see Sigi and what did you actually see?

 

This is the essence of how Russian people look at their motherland:

 

Умом Россию не понять,
Аршином общим не измерить:
У ней особенная стать —
В Россию можно только верить.

 

Google-translate, does a horrible job of translating this.

 

The meaning of this is: don't try to understand Russia, it so special, that you can only believe in it. If you lost that ability, it will never show itself to you, because if you don't have the eyes - you can not see. Just like in the Bible (the one who has ears - listen [not only hear], the one who has eyes - see [not only look], but to do that, you need to believe in what is told and shown, if you are ignorant of that, you will stay ignorant).

 

Russian literature still struggles with this question. It's a life long quest for many intelligent Russian people. For many it's just a search for happiness... These are the important things. The rest of it takes place, but is somewhere much lower on the ladder of importance. Vodka quality, is somewhere on the level of the quality of the toilet paper. Is there a need for it - yes. Is that that important? Not so much. It's only measured by the size of your wallet.

 

It all depends on what you look for...

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The best vodka's are not usually found easily. They are found at weddings and special occasions. A Russian wedding is an amazing time, so much fun and it can last three days. We got invited to one very last minute one time and suddenly became the guests of honour because we were from so far away and got the first vodka shots.

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lovely t-shirt. Most likely she is not there on prostitution charges judging by the slogan... :bgreen:

thats the all girl band that was arrested during an "unscheduled" performance in a church. They usually perform with bags over their heads. for some reason, they were protesting Putin.

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Courts in Russia are "interesting" you can go into court for civil matters and be side by side with accused felons, drunks etc. I have never seen those glass cases like that band is in, but did see several large bird cage looking things where they house the accused while in court.

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....... did you go to any coin shops, street markets, or an auction house in search of coins?

No, Josh. As I am only after old coins, which may not be taken out of the country :pardon: I did not search coins.

On the flea market was only very recent stuff, fakes of old rubles or scrap.

Russian girls - what I saw ranged from normal to breath taking :swoon: .....

Sigi

 

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No, Josh. As I am only after old coins, which may not be taken out of the country :pardon: I did not search coins.

On the flea market was only very recent stuff, fakes of old rubles or scrap.

Russian girls - what I saw ranged from normal to breath taking :swoon: .....

Sigi

 

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old coins and new girls would be my preference too..... the opposite, not so much. :crazy:

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:) Here is a Russian eagle on Monday morning:

 

attachicon.gifdrunk eagle.jpg

 

Did you feel that way some mornings Sigi?

My first evening in Moscow led to something like that, indeed :shock: After each vodka we had munched a pickled cucumber, the left over juice of which we drank next morning. It helped a lot...

Sigi :yes:

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