From Russia with love…..

After many years of being on the to-do list, I finally visited Russia. I have always had an interest in ex-communist states with previous journeys to Latvia, Azerbaijan and Georgia supplementing, yet never truly satisfying, the cold war superpower bug within me. It was with great fervour that I eagerly packed my bags and headed off to Mother Russia.  A limited time frame kept my journey to two main locations: Moscow and Saint Petersberg. 

Many opinions were given as to which city was more enjoyable - Moscow with the Kremlin and Red Square being the hub of the Soviet Union yet Saint Petersberg is a gorgeous art and cultural hub with a European feel. Both were gems in their own right with history oozing from them.

Yet venture outside the main tourist areas and you see the real look of the post-Soviet Russia. Although some affluence is notable, the vast majority of the outer suburbs show high levels of disrepair and ageing infrastructure. Cliché images from movies, government propaganda and literature are somewhat confirmed. However, in these weathered communities lies a strong sense of community and traditionalism. Simple food, simple homes and simple lifestyles constitute the basis of Russian society.  

Journeying to Russia with an element of fear of the unknown is not uncommon. Deep amongst the religious, cultural and military history, lies a complex country and people. It is an interesting place on so many levels. It provides a snapshot into a period of human history that is hard to forget, but difficult to experience. Although I was only able to scratch the surface of Russia, I was able to glimpse back and relive history to a degree. I plan on heading back to experience it in greater depth as soon as possible.