Once upon a time… West Russia

Russia… I was scared when I was thinking about it… The language, the culture, the tough weather and all those cold people… My imaginary, because of unknowledge, was about babushkas who never smile and bad guys drinking vodka…

From Saint Petersburg to Moscow, I forgot all those images, as old as the the soviet period, and I created new ones, modern and sweet. Saint Petersburg and Moscow vibrate with a positive energy. People laugh in the streets, listen music, dance, walk in the parks, go to the theater, have a drink in hipster bars and enjoy parties until late in the night. If the onion domes of St Basil’s Cathedral or the ones of Church on spilled blood were not visible, you could even think that you are still in Europe. Or in a fairy tale. With thousands of churches and pastel houses, Saint Petersburg and Moscow seem to be cities from a kid book. Cities made to dream.

But it’s true that Russian can give a first impression cold like the Siberian snow. But after few words shared, or gestures, they appear very helpful and nice. I was able to have conversations with local workers in hostels. Hostels which were exceptionally good: we woke up smelling just cooked pancakes, laundry was free and done for us during the night, russian diners and movies nights were organized and, very often, a curtain around the bed created an intimate space like a cocoon. And for only few roubles…

For lunch, I ate a tasty soup and a hot meal in a stolovaya, a cafeteria with comfort food very cheap. After that, I walked in the pretty streets of the cities or I took a nap in a park or a coffee shop. At Saint Petersburg, I spent an afternoon at l’Ermitage and I saw a ballet in the theater, with a full of stars in my eyes. At Moscow, famous ice cream from Gum are a ritual, on sunny days like on rainy days.

Life is nice in russian cities. At least, for the traveler, who goes from one to the other one with a free spirit and the heart open. In between, the link is done in a legendary train, the « red arrow », in the middle of the russian night. I close my eyes and I dream, happy of this incredible beginning of adventure…

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