With 11 different time zones spread across its territories, Russia is the largest country on Earth. With so much land, most of its territory is covered with plains, dense forest, mountains and many sweet-water rivers or lakes. The weather changes drastically depending on the area: while St. Petersburg was built on the swamp next to the Baltic Sea and gets a lot of moody weather, Moscow is sunnier and Sochi is the only Russian city with palm trees. The landscape of the Far East transforms from plains to mountain ranges. The Far North can be especially harsh and unforgiving: it includes the Arctic zone, boreal forests and more.
When it comes to food, Russia has it all figured out: your morning starts with porridge mixed with butter and dried fruit, cottage cheese or blini, curd pancakes (syrniki), or fritters (oladyi). Lunch is the most filling meal of the day and many cafes in St. Petersburg and Moscow offer business lunch deals that include a salad, soup and a warm meat dish. Don’t forget to add sour cream and you are set! Tea time is also an important part of Russian culture. Tea always comes with dessert and is consumed without milk, contrary to English habits.
Russian cuisine is filled with mayonnaise-based salads, cutlets, meat aspic dishes and fish. Do not forget high-quality vodka which is usually served with pickled side dishes. When it comes to spirits, the more expensive – the better! Drinking cheap vodka is considered bad taste and, in some cases, unsafe.
When it comes to culture, Russia offers so much to the world. Its capital Moscow is centuries old. The city’s history is visible thanks to such architectural marvels as orthodox churches and the Kremlin. St. Petersburg offers a look into Russia’s Imperial past with its opulent palaces and gardens. Both cities have outstanding ballet and theatre performances, and some of the best museums and art galleries in the world, such as The Hermitage in St. Petersburg and Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery. Many works by Russian writers are now world-renowned: Dostoyevsky, Bulgakov, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and others. The rich cultural heritage of the nation is preserved in many folk shows and dance groups that perform traditional songs and dances.
One thing Russia is famous for is untamed forests and enormous fields stretching as far as the eye can see. This vastness of territory will give you a head-whirling feeling, along with countless mountains, rivers, and lakes. One such place is the magnificent Lake Baikal which freezes over in winter. For more stunning views consider the Golden Mountains of Altai in Siberia which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. While the remote roads will be bumpy, the scenery will be worth it. Russia varies in landscape and climate thanks to its size, from the heart of the tundra to the warm resort cities on the coast of the Black Sea.