Our 10 favourite observations about Russia

Our 10 favourite observations about Russia

After a long journey on the Trans Siberian and stop over on Olkhon island, we've put together our 10 interesting facts and favourite memories from Russia:

The quirkiest tourist attraction in Yekaterinburg

Our first quirky observation was the QWERTY keyboard monument in Yekaterinburg:

QWERTY monument in Yekaterinburg
QWERTY monument in Yekaterinburg

Well actually, Yekaterinburg generally had some cool attractions, including a “peace wall” with this colourful graffiti:

Posing by Yekaterinburg's Peace Wall
Posing by Yekaterinburg's Peace Wall

The White Nights of St Petersburg

St Petersburg is famous for its White Nights in June.  This is when the sun hardly ever sets, reaching a climax around 21st June when the sun almost never sets at all.

This made our stay in St Petersburg particularly memorable for us as this was like nothing we'd ever experienced before.

The view across St Petersburg's Nevsky Prospect at midnight!
The view across St Petersburg's Nevsky Prospect at midnight!

The British Bakery – wtf?!!

This is a popular chain in St Petersburg. For Sebastien this was just wrong another interesting observation about Russia…”why isn't it a French Bakery?” he kept saying over and over in a strong French accent).

British Bakery chain in St Petersburg
British Bakery chain in St Petersburg

Thos crazy Russian drivers

Drivers in Russia are craaaazy! Unfortunately car crashes are not a rare sight:

Mad driving leads to many crashes
Mad driving leads to many crashes

Innovative street entertainers:

Naturally, alongside so many attractive and popular monuments, you will find a huge industry dedicated to the tourist market.

We were particularly amazed by this old man playing his saw with his violin bow:

Man playing saw with violin bow
Man playing saw with violin bow

We were also fascinated by these boys showing off their monkey and racoon in the streets:

Boys with monkey and racoon
Boys with monkey and racoon

PESTOPAH!

As first timers to the Russian language, our attempts to read Pestopah (and many other words) amused locals a lot.

Actually it’s pronounced, “Restoran”, and is a favourite establishment of these two greedy boys!

PESTOPAH!
PESTOPAH!

Cute Japanese tourists

Everywhere they go, regardless of age, they never fail to bring a smile to our face.

Japanese tourist posing in Moscow's Red Square
Japanese tourist posing in Moscow's Red Square

Cows are free to roam in Siberia

This applies more to the wilderness in Russia in deep Siberia such as in Olkhon island on Lake Baikal.

This particular cow made his way into our homestead munching away at everything in sight:

Cow roaming free in our homestead in Lake Baikal
Cow roaming free in our homestead in Lake Baikal

The First McDonald's opening in Russia in 1990

Our friends in Moscow told us about the opening of the first McDonald's in Russia in 1990.  After so many years of Soviet repression, people queued for hours (around 6-8 hours) to pay the equivalent of several days' wages for Big Macs, shakes and french fries. The queues at the time were huge:

The queues outside Russia's first McDonald's in 1990
The queues outside Russia's first McDonald's in 1990

A final observation:

(well not really an observation but an excuse for Stefan to post another silly picture): 

Stef willy statue photo from Hermitage in St Petersburg
Stef willy statue photo from Hermitage in St Petersburg

For more inspiration, read our article – is Russia safe for gay travellers.

OUR FAVORITE TRAVEL RECOMMENDATIONS

⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.

⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.

⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.

⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.

This article contains affiliate links. If you click on them, we may receive compensation which keeps our website alive and helps us bring you to more destinations.

7 Comments

  1. I have been to Petropavlovsk and St. Petersburg, Two extreme cities in Russia. East end and West end.
    Would love to see more of it. Russia is just a fascinating country.
    Thank you again.
    ps. I think that woman in green looks more Chinese than Japanese as
    Chinese tourists are everywhere these days. I mean they are EVERYWHERE !!!
    Japanese economy has been so flat for the last 20 years. Few of them still can be seen but compare to their population (130 Mil), it is quite a small number nowadays.
    Some European still assume any Asian tourist in Western countries would be Japanese?
    Not anymore!

    Reply
    • Thanks buddy. They were speaking in Japanese, unless they were Chinese speaking in Japanese 🙂

      Reply
  2. I was more fascinated with the boys than the monkey and the racoon. hehehe.
    Were you guys openly gay in Russia or more cautious?

    Reply
    • Ha ha ha 🙂 We were actually very careful in Russia because it was the first stop in our travels in Asia and after what we’d seen in the press, we were quite scared. But what do you mean openly gay? We didn’t pack the rainbow flat in our backpacks?

      Reply
      • Like holding hands in public. Or being out when locals ask if you have a girlfriend or a wife.

        I get ask all the time.

        Reply
        • Oh I see – we were tactful in Russia. At worst people thought we were brothers and we played up to this.

          Reply
          • Gracias mate

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You may also like:

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive our latest travel stories, exclusive deals, travel tips. We are also offering a free ebook revealing the 10 best apps every gay traveller should have.

You have Successfully Subscribed!