Sandy and I were just sitting here in our cosy train compartment with a nice hot cup of green tea and pondering our favourite moments in Russia – realising that they all revolved around people. People really make a place. Places are just places and can be great in their own right but what makes them amazing and make us want to go back are the people that helped to make that place come alive. Like meeting Luke and Maria with their kids Levi and Gabby and grandma Kathleen – that made our time on Olkhon Island a very special time and hopefully a long lasting friendship has emerged.
Didn’t really meet anyone in Omsk – wouldn’t really go back.
Ekaterinburg was made special from learning lots of great stories and history from Luba and Valentina – otherwise it may have been just a border city between Asia and Europe.
Our ger family in Mongolia were what made the experience so special. Yunnan in China would’ve been such a different place had we not met the wonderful Yeshi and Alex.
St Petersburg was made excellent and enticing a return trip by Natalia and Vyacheslav and their lovely family who adopted us for a few days, and of course lovely Irine who trusted us with her apartment for 5 days while she was in Moscow and then we met her the last night and felt we were kindred spirits. Definitely on our ‘to return’ list.
Moscow was a big and often un-tourist friendly city though meeting Nikita (an incredibly knowledgable academic doing postgraduate russian history studies)- our SERVAS host and his friend Pasha (a scientist and historian who knew the answer to all of our questions and could tell us stories of every building or statue we passed) who showed us around was so inspiring and wetted our appetite to learn more and more about Russian history and current politics – oh so very interesting (and seemingly corrupt). Without meeting these two wonderful people I doubt I’d want to come back to Moscow.
A town is really just another town without crossing paths with beautiful people! Mind you some of the buildings are incredible. And stories we read about the lives lived or suffered really bring a place to life, that’s what can also connects us to a place…
By Baba Miliking