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 🙂