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Top 7: Russian landscapes

Russia is often seen either through its political and military sides, symbolised by Moscow and the Kremlin, or through its cultural and historic sides, symbolised by St Petersburg. But Russia is way more than that. Limit your understanding of Russia to its western part and to the ethnic Russians, and you would miss what Russia really is? From Moscow to Vladivostok, from Sochi to Murmansk and from Irkutsk to Vorkuta, Russia is socially, economically, “biodiversifically“ diversified. As a result it has absolutely stunning landscapes to discover by train, walk or horse. And trust me I’m kind of an expert since I lived in many countries (sorry but not sorry).

 

  • The Baikal

Starting with a classic. The Baikal is just stunning. In winter as in summer the Baikal is one of the most (if not the most) beautiful landscape of Russia. The Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world and the deepest, but more importantly it’s the meeting point of religions and societies. Indeed the Baikal hosts one of the most sacred buddhist site, but also ancient shamanists sites. Between Western Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia, the Baikal is a the crossroads of cultures that increase even more its majesty!

Dreamstime © - Baïkal - Cap Khoboï (4)

 

  • The Kola Peninsula

The Kola Peninsula is a bit less fancy and far lesser known. But this peninsula catches one of the most Russian atmosphere and landscape. Basically the Kola Peninsula is a piece of land located at the extreme north of Russia in the polar circle. Strategic region with both military basis and oil, this region close to Murmansk remains the realm of winter and so offers beautiful landscapes.

Dreamstime © - Péninsule de Kola - Pêche (9)

 

  • The Altai mountains

One of the most beautiful landscapes of Russia can be found in the Altai region. These mountains are a real natural and preserved gem in the heart of the Russian territory. Forests, rivers, lakes, wildlife, flowers offer you stunning landscapes that definitely worth the hike. Yes…of course the Altai is quite difficult to explore, so better jump on the train and then your shoes! BUT the Altai is famous for its honey, another reasons to go and “hike” (if you know what I mean).

Tsar Voyages © - Altai - Paysage (9)

 

  • Yakutia

The largest sub-territory of the Russian Federation is located on the East side of the country and most of it is inhabited. So again lot of hikes, sorry. But this territory knows among the most extreme climate in the northern hemisphere. This created magical landscapes with a specific biodiversity!

Dreamstime © - Yakoutie - Rivière Indigirka (2)

 

  • Karelia

The Karelia region is located not far from the Kola Peninsula, in the extreme north of Russia’s western part. But this region goes above the States borders and encompass the territories of Russia, Finland and Sweden. The Russian part of Karelia is famous for the Kiji islands on which have been erected among the highest wooden churches in the world. And if you’re lucky enough you’ll even be able to see belugas!

Dreamstime © - Ile de Kiji - Eglise de la Transfiguration

 

  • Kamchatka

By far one of my favorite landscape of Russia. Why? First because it’s dangerous and inaccessible (yes, I’m kind of an adventurous guy). Second, because it concentrates all the Russian territory diversities and raw potential. The Kamchatka is a huge peninsula in the Far East where the continent meets the ocean. You can reach it only by snowmobiles or helicopters but then you discover awesome landscapes shaped by extreme climates and volcanos (about 200!).

Dreamstime © - Kamchatka - Volcan de Moutnovsky (6)

 

  • The Caucasus

Last but definitely not least, the Caucasus is highly different from above. Of course it’s in the south so there is sun and wine. Which change everything. But above all, the Caucasus is very specific because at the crossroads of cultures, a sweet mix of Russian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern influences. So are the landscapes, mainly composed of mountains (who would have guessed?) but also stunning views on the Caspian and Black Sea!

Dreamstime © Piatigorsk (17)

 

Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!

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Travelers Advices

Taking the subway?

Some days ago I told about how the Moscow subway is beautiful (want a guided tour? Click here!) and how wonderful it is to have free internet access. But now I realise that I didn’t explain you how to actually take the subway! So here it is… and enjoy the ride (from 5.30 am to 1.30 am)!

Dreamstime © - Moscou - Métro - Komsomolskaya (3)

On the contrary to many countries, taking the subway in Moscow and St Petersburg is a very convenient and comfortable way to travel across the city. Indeed the cities are so big that taking the subway is often a necessity. However, as for everything in Russia, distances between two stations can be huge… so stay awake and keep in mind that walking 15 minutes to get to the nearest station is absolutely normal in the city center.

Dreamstime © - Moscou - Métro (4)

First you need to know where you are, where is the nearest station and where you go. To that end, you really (but like really really) download the official apps. Up to you to choose between Yandex Metro and Yandex transport (my favorite) but download one of them! Thanks to them you’ll always find your way and avoid unnecessary detours.

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Then you need to enter the metro (and pay of course). Since Russia is hosting major international events, some employees of the subway speak a bit of english. So two options for you to buy tickets: the gentle and funny woman at her desk, or the machine (they “speak” perfect english). Being a bit afraid of people (and even more of Russian grannies) and never sure of my perfect Russian (real reason is, I hate people), I always go to the machine. But up to you!

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At this point you have three options:

  • Single ticket (Единый): it costs 55 RUB (0.9 USD) and it is available for only one entry. Once you entered, you can stay the time you want and go where ever you want.

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  • Two-rides ticket (Единый): it works the same as the first one except that you can enter the subway twice. It costs 110 RUB (1.8 USD).

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  • Troika card (Тройка): the troika card is a transportation card on which you can put how much money as you want. It’s the most convenient way to use public transports (it works for both the subway and buses!) if you use them more than occasionally. There is no date of availability and you only have to pop it up when you don’t have anymore money. Moreover by using the Troika you save money as using public transports only costs 36 RUB (0.6 USD)!

Side note: the troika card costs 50 RUB (0.8 USD), and can only be bought at a counter (sorry)

dreamstime_xxl_113475305

 

So now that you’re in the subway, you must act as Russians. Please do. For you and also for me (yes I hate people that misbehave in the subway). So here are some basic rules:

  1. Walk fast, please. And if you want to admire the ornaments, stop on a side.
  2. In escalators, stay on the right. Or go on the left only if you’re not stopping.
  3. Let your seat to elders, children, bearing women, or (if you’re man) to women
  4. Stay close to the door only if you go out at the next stop.
  5. The station before your stop, go closer to the exit door.

Thank you. And it will prevent you from any Russian grannies assault (beware, they’re quite intolerant and violent).

Dreamstime © - Moscou - Métro (3)

To finish this very long post, I would advise you to always check your directions and especially when you want to go out of the subway. Choose the wrong exit and you’ll find yourself about 1km away from where you wanted to be! To help you, many indications have recently been translated in english… or at least in the Latin alphabet. In addition, the voice in the wagon indicating stops and directions are different according to where you go! If you go towards the center you’ll hear a male voice, on the contrary if you leave the center, it will be a female voice.

After reading this it can seems scary but trust me it isn’t. Russian transports and especially subways are very comfortable, clean, safe, fast and you almost never wait! So let’s go!

 

Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!