November 05, 2023

Readers Respond: What We Miss about Russia


Readers Respond: What We Miss about Russia
A Russian lake, morning. The Russian Life files

With Russia effectively closed to outside visitors for years, first from COVID, and more recently because of the invasion of Ukraine, we've all been feeling a bit wanderlust-y lately. So we asked you, our readers, to tell us what you miss about your travels to Russia.

And we got some great answers back.


Not surprisingly, "people" was a common response, friends both old and new:

I miss being able to freely visit my relatives in Rostov-na-Donu.

I have visited and lived in Belgorod, Russia. I miss the way the people took me in as one of them.

Kindness and thoughtfulness of Russian hosts.

Connecting to the people of Russia.

My dear friends.

I miss most the warm welcome from local people.

Communicating with strangers on slow trains.

Also not surprisingly, the many sensations of food and cooking and the way they bring people together:

Highlight has been sitting around a table and building friendships.

Sitting at a table of Russian zakuski and toasting all good things with my beloved Russian friends.

The smell of coal-fired samovars on the train.

The visits to the dacha, the picnics in the forest with friends, shashlik, and singing.

Being in the kitchen with friends talking, singing, eating until the wee hours of the morn.

In a similar vein, many related spiritual experiences:

The woods, the slow swampy river surrounding Yasnaya Polyana; the ghost of Tolstoy walking beside me.

The smell of incense and candle wax, the sense of peace in the churches, monasteries, and cemeteries.

Walking on the streets of Peter[sburg] in the early morning, entering a random small church, feeling home.

Some reflected on travel, adventure, and exploration:

Walking from the Novy Arbat to the Kremlin on a quiet Saturday morning.

The Tretyakov [Gallery]... That's number one. The Tretyakov.

The view of Russian villages from the top bunk of a train until the gentle swaying puts me to sleep.

Walking in the streets of Peter[sburg], meeting friends I knew in Sochi OG, skiing Kamchatka or Altai.

Long walks during the white nights.

Some provided vignettes, relatable snapshots:

Stepping from harsh stairways into warm apartments.

Watching ice fisherman motionless at their spot.

Footsteps crunching in the winter stillness.

Walking in the birch groves, strolling down the alleys, riding the tram.

The smell of forests and train rides. The rich smell of Earth is still buried deeply in my heart.


A heartfelt thank-you to all who shared; many of these responses reminded us of our own memories

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