... which surprised and shocked us, but others made us happy. Before visiting Russia, we had some ideas and as well the common prejudices in our mind. We spent 30 intensive days in the country and would have loved to see more of it.
1. The Russian Folk
The typical Russian is thought to be blond, tall and gaunt. We already found out shortly after the boarder in Vladikavkaz, that it is not like this. On the market we met some asiatic looking sellers. Travelling through the Ural, we met two other ethnic groups, the Tartars and Baschkires. They are already for a long time in this region and on the contrary to the traditional Russians, they practise a moderate islam and their language belongs to the group of the Turks. And not to forget Elista, on the European side of Russia, where the Kalmückes are living, a Westmongolian folk.
2. The Russian country
It is huge and wide, really wide. In one month we drove around 4000 km, which is a lot for us. Although we were driving nearly every day, we noticed on the map, that we were only driving in the south of Russia, along the Kazachian boarder. We would have loved to go further east, but for now it is a plan for our future. In Russia it is pretty normal to drive 100 km to the next city. In Switzerland we would have already crossed half the country with this distance...
3. The Russian environment
Unfortunately, this is the saddest thing about our stay in Russia. In the region of the Ural are many towns, which were built directly next to copper- or ore-mining places. Moreover, they often treat the metals there, which even produces more pollution. That is why some of the Russian cities made it on the list of the most polluted places on earth. An other, not well known disaster happened in Majak, when 1957 radioactive material came in to the environment. Up to 1970, it was possible for the government to hide the accident and still it is not very clear, how strong the radioactive contamination in this region is. Unfortunately, they nowadays still use this place to recycle fuel rods and we found out in some newspapers, that in autumn 2017 an other accident happened there. As we spoke to some Russians about it, they told us, that there are worse places and people also live there... According to Greenpeace Russia, 1/5 of the land of Russia is contaminated (chemicals / radioactivity) – no regard to the people living there and the beautiful nature of their country.
4. The Russian character
Before coming to Russia, we met a Russian women and she told us, that the Russians are quite reserved and we had as well the image, that they would be like this and even unfriendly. This prejudice we left behind us, as soon as we passed the boarder. The boarder frontier-guards were very kind and helpful and even made some jokes with us. Along our way through Russia we met many nice people, which were always very helpful and wanted to know everything about our trip. Talking with them was not always easy, as they mainly speak Russian, but even Johannes got used to the basic smalltalk.
5. The Russian food
When we were in Georgia, the Georgian always told us very proudly, that the Russians come to them, as they have the best food from the Ex-Sovjetic countries. We already thought, that we now only get tasteless food. Mostly, we are cooking in our truck, but we intended to try as well the local food, mainly the snacks which can be bought everywhere in the cities. Being hungry in a city is not a problem, as everywhere you can find bakeries, which sell cones filled with cabbage, mushrooms and potatoes or in the sweet version with apples. Theres loved the blinis (like crêpes), which you either can get salty, for example with a lot of cheese or mushrooms, and sweet ones, where our favourites were the ones with smetana and cherries. Johannes liked the potatoes, which get boiled, then cut in half, the inner part mixed with cheese and finally garnished with “salad”. And the most important thing in the Russian cuisine – Smetana. It is like sour cream but less sour and it gets eaten with everything. We love it!!!