Ladies and Gentlemen please fasten your seatbelts and bring your seatbacks to the upright position we are taking off Russia for our next International Travel Blog.
Russia is the largest country in the world. Its area is 17 098.242 thousand square km. The state is located in Eastern Europe and northern Asia.
From north to south the country stretches for over 4,000 km; from west to east – for almost 10,000 km. Russia borders on 16 countries. In the southeast - with North Korea (DPRK), in the south with China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia; in the southwest - with Ukraine, in the west with Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Norway; the Kaliningrad Region borders on Lithuania and Poland.
Being that it is such a huge country I thought I would find a few things that I found interesting about Russia instead of just one major destination. Here are things that are really interesting …
Sochi where the last winter Olympics were held. Sochi on the Black Sea is a great winter sports destination and, in fact, hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics. Skis aside, Sochi also hosts the Russian Formula 1 Grand prix and will be a host city for the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Despite winter snow, Sochi offers a subtropical climate and great beaches, making it a key part of the Russian Riviera. The resort city makes a great summer (and winter) getaway for Russians. Strolling along the pedestrian-only sea embankment is a pleasant experience. Environmentally conscious travelers may want to visit the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve. Sochi also is home to the area’s northern most tea plantations.
The Golden Ring strings together several cities outside of Moscow that fill the senses with awe. Picturesque countryside’s filled with cherry orchards, quaint cottages, onion-shaped domes and iconic churches that contain the country’s oldest art make this region a special place to visit.
Russia’s second largest city may be known as Leningrad, but most people refer to it by its birth name, St. Petersburg. Founded in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great, St. Petersburg was once the imperial capital of Russia; its name was changed to Leningrad in 1924. Because of its location on the Neva River, which feeds into the Gulf of Finland and then into the Baltic Sea, the city is a popular northern cruise destination and one of the most popular places to visit in Russia.
As the capital of Russia, Moscow is the most important city in Russia, but not just for political reasons alone. This city of more than 12 million is also well known for its artistic endeavors, including ballet, symphonies and art. Onion-shaped domes of historic churches fill the skyline. The stately Kremlin and impressive Red Square, one of the largest squares in the world, are sights not to be missed, as are statues of Lenin and Stalin, controversial leaders in the 20th century.
I also decided to check out some unorthodox destinations that those of us who like the odd and out of the norm kinda stuff.
Dargavs….The village of Dargavs, or the City of the Dead, has an ancient cemetery where people that lived in the valley buried their loved ones along with their clothes and belongings. The valley stretches for 17 kilometers, and the cemetery contains almost 100 ancient stone crypts. Ossetians say that the cemetery helps them understand how people lived 400 years ago. Archeologists, also, are very interested in exploring the site more completely, as there have been interesting items found that have attracted some scientific attention.
Bunker-42…There’s an amazing tunnel system snaking beneath the streets of Moscow, leading to a secret cold war fortress once code named “Bunker-42.” Designed and built after the first series of nuclear tests by the Soviet Union, these tests revealed that the optimum depth for the bunker’s silo must be no higher than 165 feet beneath ground in order to survive nuclear fallout intact. The task for the builders was enormous: construct a gigantic structure beneath the city streets without damaging Moscow’s existing infrastructure of streets and communication pathways. To do so would alert the public and innumerable unknown spies to the existence of the bunker, thereby rendering the entire thing useless.
Lena’s Pillars…Lena’s Pillars are a natural rock formation which was made a World Heritage site in 2006. Numerous fossils and ancient organisms can be found at these pillars, and the area is important for its fossil record of the explosion of life in the lower Cambrian. It has also been the site of many mega-fauna fossils such as mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius Blum), bison (Bison priscus Boj), woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis Blum), Lena horse (Equus lenensis Russ), and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus L). Evidence of ancient human life can be seen from the rock paintings and manuscripts from the area. However this trip will cost you an average of $800 since there are no other airlines competing for this route. Upon arrival in Yakutsk, you will learn that you can only get to Lena’s Pillars by boat. Supposedly this is only a half a day’s trip upriver; in fact the trip with takes 3 days with a local guide and costs $500. So if you go you better REALLY enjoy this one!
There are so many cultural and historical sites to see in Russia theres no way to pick just one to highlight.
But what about Russian “folk remedies”?
Many Russians, including doctors, are knowledgeable about medicinal herbs. The most popular herbs in Russia include St. John’s wort, chamomile, eucalyptus, Valeriana, coltsfoot, sage, mint, bur marigold, stinging nettle and cranberry leaves.
St. John’s wort decoction is used for treating colds, stomach problems, skin diseases and kidney ailments. Mint, mellissa, motherwort and Valeriana are used to treat nervous system problems. Camomile is known for its antiseptic qualities, and is used to treat sore throats and diarrhea. Stinging nettles are used to stem bleeding, and decoction of the weed is applied to the scalp to strengthen hair.
Bur marigold is known as an effective measure against skin allergies, especially for babies and small children. Russian mothers may add decoction of bur marigold to a baby’s bath if the child has skin problems.
Fresh cabbage leaves are known for their anti-inflammatory effect. When breast-feeding mothers have inflamed nipples, cabbage leaves are believed to ease the problem.
Other Russians rely on the healing effect of mumiyo — a natural blend of organic and non-organic soluble substances that originate in cracks between rocks. Mumiyo is used to treat wounds, gastric ulcers and headaches, and to strengthen the immune system.
Another Russian medical hit is the banya — a steam bath house. The Russian banya differs from the Finnish dry sauna in that it provides damp heat. In the banya, people use veniki — bunches of birch or oak twigs and leaves — to thrash each other in order to improve circulation.
The banya is not just about getting clean. It is believed to have a medicinal effect on the skin, lungs, nasal passages, joints and metabolism. Some people visit the banya regularly and swear that their health improves after doing so, and many believe that sickly children can become much healthier if they visit the banya on a weekly basis.
Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Volgograd, as well as other major industrial and population centers, are the highest concentrations of air pollution. Overall, over 200 cities in Russia exceed pollution limits, and this is increasing as more vehicles appear on the roads. Make sure to take your allergies medicines and other precautions like VentMask filters to ensure your air quality no matter where you visit in this grand country.
Wishing you safe travels and the best health-TheVentMaskTeam