From Russia, With Love

Здравствуйте, друзья!  How have you been? It seems like such a long time, but I was only in Russia for a week.  It was a quick trip, but one that- if you’ll forgive the wording- was life-changing.  My dad and I traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg, packing as much into each day as humanly possible.  We soaked up culture, food, and a little vodka 😉

Although Moscow felt like one of the most “foreign” places I’ve been, there are, unsurprisingly, a number of American chains…

This is the biggest MacDonald’s in Moscow.

One day, while my dad was working, I ventured out onto Tverskaya Street (one of the biggest boulevards in Moscow) to explore on my own.  While the city streets are perfectly safe, the sidewalks are separated by 8 lanes of traffic that move at different times and speeds.

There is next to nothing that would convince me to drive here.  What would be a 10 minute walk can take over an hour in slow-moving traffic.

Instead of crossing, pedestrians use underpasses to get from one street to the other.

Underground, the walls are lined with stores that sell everything from tchotkes to malt liquor.

After getting turned around in the underpasses more than a few times (few people speak English), I finally made my way to Red Square, home of the Kremlin, Lenin’s Tomb, the GUM department store and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, among other sights.

What else does Russia have that the US doesn’t? For now, Sarah!

We had so much fun together.  We chatted, ate, frolicked at the Museum of the Revolution…

… at the zoo…

… she even took me to one of her classes!  I think I may have convinced her students to try mixing peanut butter into their kasha (oatmeal).

While Moscow did have a lot of beautiful areas, there was an undeniable shadow cast over the city leftover from Soviet times.  St. Petersburg, on the other hand, felt rich and luxurious; there were colorful buildings and palaces that, thanks to recent restorations, seemed almost untouched by war and dictatorship.

On our last night in Russia, my dad and I went to the famous Mariinsky Theater to see the opera “The Marriage of Figaro.”  While operas may not be quite my cup of tea (yet), it was incredible to be in such a beautiful, culturally rich space.

The pickings for a vegetarian (or pescatarian) were slim, and my snacks from home came in very handy.

Our hotel, luckily, had an amazing breakfast that held me for hours.

Soups were also a safe bet, and very tasty.

Traditional Russian salads are not made with leafy greens, but either tossed with mayonnaise or olive oil, like this one with tomato, cucumber, dill, and chives.

I encountered several “pancake” dishes, stuffed with cheese or mushrooms.  The dough was sweet, like a crêpe.

Vegetable and meat-stuffed pies are also a specialty.  They are ornate, and are made with a similar sweet-tasting dough.

Our best meal in Moscow was, ironically, at an Italian/Russian restaurant.  I had a rich bowl of homemade gnocchi with smoked ricotta, and ate every bite.

The best meal in St. Petersburg was at a Georgian restaurant.  The cuisine is almost Mediterranean, and uses more vegetables than traditional Russian fare.  This appetizer platter, for example, had lightly roasted carrots and eggplant, two kinds of nutmeats, and pomegranate.  A raw foodist would approve!

We also dined on hachapuri, a Georgian bread similar to pizza.

One of their desserts, made with grapes, tastes like a combination of jelly and pudding.

Speaking of desserts, we did not skimp in the sweet department.  We tried the Duke’s Ruins, a nut cake made with prunes, as well as many chocolate varieties.  The tap water isn’t safe to drink, so more often than not, the fruit garnishes went uneaten.

We sampled interesting juices, like raspberry, blueberry, and pumpkin!

And what’s more festive than hot mulled wine?

The food was interesting, and while it may not have been my favorite, it was fun to sample traditional Russian cuisine.  However, I’m looking forward to eating vegetables again and being able to hydrate at will! It was an amazing trip that I’ll never forget.  I haven’t been able to spend as much time with my dad recently, and it was so nice to travel and experience a new culture together.

I’ve got a busy week ahead of me now that I’m back.  Sunday is my 15k race; while I was able to use the gym in Moscow and complete two treadmill workouts (2 miles and 5 miles), I didn’t get my long run in on Sunday.  I did, however, wake up and crank out 8 miles yesterday… the farthest I’ve ever gone!  There were times when I felt like giving up and going home, but then I imagined how happy and satisfied I’d feel when I was done.  I’m a little nervous about Sunday’s race; I’ve never run 9.3 miles before! Running 8 yesterday gave me a little more confidence, though, and I’m not aiming for speed or a specific time, I’m running to finish.

Please accept my apologies in advance as I take time to get settled.  I do have some news I’m excited to share with you tomorrow!  Hope you’re having a great week 🙂


30 responses to “From Russia, With Love

  1. WOW all of those juices and stuffed pancakes!! everything looks awesome!! and all the sight-seeing..what a great trip!! great pics too!

  2. GORGEOUS sights!!

    Miss you, girl!

  3. Welcome back!! Looks like quite the trip 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear the news!!

    ❤ ❤

  4. oh my gosh! What an INCREDIBLE trip. I bet its a whole different world over there. Some of those buildings are so beautiful they look fake. Mmmmm gnocchi- how delicious. Glad you had a good time. But REALLY glad you’re back 😉

  5. awesome post. so glad youre back. now i really really really wanna travel to russia.

    btw, one of my coworkers is georgian and i have to say, you seriously lucked out with that menu. their food is not traditionally so veg friendly. ive gone to a few brooklyn restaurants with her (the only 2 georgian restaurants) and there was almost NADA for me to eat.

    love the opera house, and all the cool buildings. so much fun!!

  6. Oh my gosh, what amazing pictures! I’m sure you will never forget such an incredible trip with your dad. So glad you could go.

  7. Looks like an amazing trip! Now I want to visit Russia 😀

    The Georgian meal looks amazing. I had no idea Russian water wasn’t safe to drink- noted!

    can’t wait to hear your news!

  8. It looks like you had an amazing time! It’s so wonderful that you got to visit Russia AND spend quality time with your Dad.

    All of the meals look delicious, though what caught my eye the most was the hot mulled wine. It looks similar to sangria LOL.

    Good luck getting back in the groove of things and I’m excited to hear your news!

  9. Glad you’re spreading the peanut butter wonders to Russia!! I LOVED seeing your pictures – so many gorgeous buildings!

    Yay for seeing Sarah! You and your dad look so cute together!! Glad you had such a wonderful time – now I want to go to Russia!!

  10. What an amazing experience! I feel like all I know about Russia is their dolls and impressive architecture, but there really is so much to their culture! I’m definitely putting Russia on my ‘places to travel before I die’ list. It may be cold but so gorgeous!

  11. The trip looked awesome. Welcome back and buen suerte with the rest of your race training!

  12. Wow, it looked like you had a great trip. I’m glad you got to spend some much needed time with your dad.

    We missed you! Can’t wait to hear your news.

  13. Welcome back! What an awesome trip – everything is beautiful and you got to see so many things!

    and that pasta with SMOKED ricotta?!? yum.

  14. I loved looking at all of your photos from your trip. Interesting eats and beautiful sights!

  15. Wow what a great trip, thanks for the amazing pics, I feel like I was just transported there!! Awesome for sharing this with us 🙂

    “I do have some news I’m excited to share with you tomorrow! Hope you’re having a great week :-)”
    OK so I am dying to know…what??? My guess would be you’re engaged or you’re employed doing something you really want to be doing. Or, maybe you’re like picking out a new blogger template layout and something a little less earth shattering than my first two guesses 🙂

  16. So great to hear your recap! I loved seeing the Russian architecture, I love the colors of Eastern European buildings. I loved seeing the familiar American establishments with a script totally foreign to English, like at Ruby Tuesday’s. Crazy!

    I’ve heard a lot about Georgian food, especially the bread. Funny, I probably know more about Georgian food than I know about Georgia itself. A foodie to the core, I guess!

  17. KATIEEEEEEE…this is amazing! now i need to add russia to my ever-growing list of places to go! i am SO GLAD you had a wonderful trip, got to hang out with sarah and your dad and enjoy the new culture!

    yay…and thanks for all the pictures! i am soaking up each and every one.

    can’t wait for the exciting news – lots of love to you!

  18. wow!! the buildings look so beautiful!! and the food too hahahah

    how cold was it???

  19. what a great trip! i’ve always wanted to go to russia!!!

  20. I still can’t believe you were in Russia, that must have been such an incredible experience. I still can’t believe you met Simeon, how crazy!

  21. Wow! What wonderful photos 🙂 Looks like you had some very tasty eats!!! Welcome back!

  22. Too Too Too exciting! Russia looks even more beautiful then I imagined! So glad you had a great time…and grape pudding? So needed pb with it!


  23. Looks like a beautiful place I have a best friend from Russia. He goes by ”Russian” I love when he speaks Russian too.

  24. Ooh I just heard this piece on NPR about a “russian tapas” cookbook. Must think of the name… Thought of you when I heard it….

  25. Some of those foods look great! But why are you in Russia? Just a trip or something else?

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  27. great pictures of an impressive trip! those bread things look pretty insane. glad you had a good time!

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  29. I can finally read!

    I’m glad my pathetic salad made your post 🙂
    Do you know which Georgian place you went to in Peter? I’ve got to keep tabs on all the best places to go!

    Also, you should come back. Just maybe.

  30. Oh my gosh–I have to comment on this post but want to see the newer one’s news!! I’m excited 🙂

    I am so so happy that you had such an amazing trip! You and traveling girl, I envy it! Always going somewhere new! I’d have to say that gnocchi w/ smoked ricotta reminds me of a dish from my brother’s wedding….which was divineee, and yours looks amazing! That pizza looks pretty delish as well….

    You and your dad are adorable! And congrats on kickin’ a$$ w/ a new PD (distance, right? haha….) !! love you girl!

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