Reflections of Russia

My trip to Russia has taught me how my preconception of a country can be totally wrong.  I expected to find a cold grey environment where people look miserable and oppressed but instead found a vibrant place with colourful buildings and radiant people.

St Bazil'sThe Colourful St Bazil’s Cathedral and Bright Walls of The Kremiln

The Kremlin is not the dark prison I thought it to be.  Inside there are magnificent palaces, museums, art galleries and churches.  I was not allowed to photograph inside the Kremlin palaces and museums but I was allowed to take photos of the interior of St Bazil’s.

Inside St Bazil's CathedralInside St Bazil’s Catheral

Vibrant PeopleVibrant people on the streets of Moscow (notice the cleaners in the background).

Moscow MetroThe Magnificent Moscow Metro

There were police and soldiers about but no more than you would find in any capital city such as London.  In Russia they commemorate two major wars, the 1812 war against Napoleon and the Second World War against Hitler.  I briefly wondered why they seemed to disregard the First World War and then remembered that the Russian Revolution occurred part way through it.  People still queued to view the embalmed body of Lenin but I declined to join my fellow tourists in line, preferring instead to wander around the centre of the city on my own taking photographs, something I had previously thought I would not have been allowed to do.

Kremlin SoldiersSoldiers Guarding The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier and The Eternal Flame near The Kremlin.

I dined in a superb Georgian Restaurant just a few yards from our hotel which served excellent sea food from the Black Sea.

Georgian CafeGeorgian Restaurant

St Petersburg was much less crowded than Moscow and the palaces even brighter and more accessible.  It seemed very apt that the Russians decided to change the name back from sombre Leningrad to its pre-revolution title.

Winter PalaceThe Winter Palace in St Peterburg

Unlike those in Moscow, I was allowed to photograph inside most of the palace interiors although there were some rooms where photography was not allowed.

Inside The Winter PalaceInside the Winter Palace

Food and drink was half the price than in Moscow, which was almost the same as in London (expensive).  I highly recommend the Literary Cafe, not far from The Winter Palace.  The menu contained quotations from Russian writers in English and Russian.  This week the writer was Alexander Pushkin.  Their Snack Hussar (red caviar, smoked salmon, pancakes with a tot of Vodka) was wonderful.

Literary CafeThe Literary Cafe, St Petersburg

Our Russian guides made little reference to the Soviet regime apart from its contribution to defending the country in World War Two.  I was surprised to find how much of the Tsars era had survived and was proudly displayed.  Boris Yeltsin was proudly referred to as the first Russian President.

Russian MemorialMonument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad

Russia is a wonderful place to visit.  It is not possible to understand all aspects of a country on just a brief visit to two cities but my first impression is that it is no better or worse place to live than most other countries in the developed world.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

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13 Responses to Reflections of Russia

  1. Jay A. Price says:

    I thought it was fantastic that you were allowed to photograph inside too (though I had to pay extra for the privilege – a whole $A3). Didn’t have my tripod so this is handheld at around 1/40th, and the ISO ramped up.

  2. We spent approximately two hours in the Hermitage as part of our tour. It was packed with people, so it was difficult to get a clear shot of anything. I was so affected by the opulence and the amazing collection of art, but was also surprised to discover all the windows open as the place was not air conditioned, and the paintings were not protected from the changes in humidity. I was also surprised that we were allowed to take photos in most galleries. This is a place one must visit many many times in order to appreciate the enormous volume of works housed there in. Overwhelming, is definitely an understatement.

  3. silver price says:

    I call this helmet the ‘Sja-3 helmet’, because it is the only description I have found with accompanying illustrations in the Soviet Diving Manuals from this period. The name Sja-3 stands for the first letter of the Russian word ‘Helmet’ which is ‘Sjlem’. So ‘Sja’ means ‘helmet’, while the ‘3’ is for the number of bolts. There are also Sja-12 ( 12-bolt ) helmets. There are some other existing documents which describe helmets from another period which are also called Sja-3 / Sja-12 helmets but these also had a specific name ( such as the EPRON or UVS50 helmet etc. ) The 1943 the Sja-3 helmet was initially built without a name badge and these helmets have the date and number stamped directly into the brass neck rings. I have no further information about their place of manufacture, but identical helmets with the marked name badge were manufactured in Leningrad. The oldest directly stamp-dated helmet I have found is from 1943, while the most recent is 1946. The oldest identical helmet with a name badge is dated 1947. The information on this badge tells us that the helmet was made in ‘Factory Number 3′, located in Leningrad. When these war time helmets were actually manufactured in Leningrad during the siege, and this seems to be the case, then this is another extraordinary accomplishment by the russians.

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  8. Good day! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.

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  11. Julene Posto

    My trip to Russia has taught me how my preconception of a country can be totally wrong.  I expected to find a cold grey environment where people look miserable and oppressed but instead found a vibrant place with colourful buildings and radiant people…

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