A car trouble sketch-of-life example from the same traveller

Another story from Jack from Poland (see the previous story) that may be worth sharing to show the spirit of the country. Reminds me of another couple of travellers who got a free tow from Petrozavodsk to St. Petersburg. So yes, I’d say the situation described below is “typical” for Russia.

While it wasn’t in your neighborhood, I would like to share with you a
story, what happened a week before. more >>

My English students seek conversation practice

Here is a letter from one of them:

irina-2I’m desperate for English conversation practice!

In exchange, I can be your guide in Kandalaksha.

I can meet you at the train station, help you check into a hotel, recommend a place to eat, suggest places to visit, take you there, keep you from getting lost, and in every other way make you stay in Kandalaksha pleasant and comfortable. All totally free if you speak English to me and encourage me to do the same.

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Soviet movies in English, one of the gateways to the “Russian soul”

avengersI’ve stumbled on a treasure trove collection of popular Soviet-era as well as some modern cult movies with English translations/subtitles. Quotes from these have made it into everyday language, and memes form became a part of the popular mental set.

A great resource if you want to understand the subtleties of how an average modern Russian feels and thinks.

See sovietmoviesonline.com

But the download/opening time is long. Be prepared to wait.

Americans try drinking Russian-style, followed by typical chasers

Hope the following gets a chuckle out of you. Too bad “sniffing” it with a piece of brown bread was not included, the hard-core drinker style.

Moscow – first impressions after 2+ years away

Irrived in Moscow yesterday at 11:35am. First impressions after being away for over two years:

(1) Neatness and cleanliness leaning towards glamour.

(2) Huge police presence.

(3) A conspicuous number of Muslim-dressed people seen on Moscow streets.


(4) The traffic situation appears to be less of a problem than three years ago although this impression may be misleading as I arrived on Saturday, when traffic is not always high.

(5) Lots of bicycles. The colour of the season is white. And folding kick scooters all over not seen at all in 2013 Moscow.

(6) Public bicycle rental is all over, both in the city center and in the outskirts.



Bike rental points are marked in green

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Back from Finland, impressed with how cheap Russia is

roubleThis recent trip drove home how inexpensive Russia has become following the fall of the rouble. Across the board prices here are half of what they are in Finland.

I’d say if you are thinking of visiting Russia at all do it now, while it is cheap, before rouble inflation catches up with rising dollar and euro.

A short film on Luvenga

luvengaTV-21 is a Murmansk news channel. Scroll to near the bottom of tv21.ru/news/?newsid=34292 to see a short film on Luvenga, 14km south-east from Kandalaksha. The film is in Russian. Its main point is that of all places the author had seen Luvenga is the only one where the locals would not prefer to be elsewhere. I’d like to remark, based on my own observations, that life satisfaction here, in southern Kola, seems to be higher than anywhere else I’ve observed in Russia. I will even venture to offer an explanation. In central Russia, during most of its history, escape was an ever-present option, thus evolutionary pressure for malcontents. Here at nearly the end of the world, on the other hand, people had to learn to like what they had, or else. Malcontents got weeded out and got replaced by a breed of happy campers.

Ice hole bathing on the Epiphany

Murmansk, -20C (-4F). The poin is to commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, thus the icehole in the shape of a cross, or marked by a cross. The practice seems to be frowned at by the church but its popularity is on the rise. This year the authorities banned ice bathing in Kandalaksha because, it was said, one foot of ice wasn’t enough to make it safe. In Moscow on the other hand they cut holes all over and even installed a huge barrel in the middle of the Red Square.

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Russophilia and after-hours boose sales

Perhaps I’ve been one of these grumpy ever-critical Russians too much and too long. To make up let me open a new Russophilia category for things that I actually like about this place and its inhabitants. Done, here.


The first entry will be an ordinary liquor and beer store at Pervomayskaya 57 in Kandalaksha that put one plastic table in the corner of the hall, dubbed itslef a cafe, and thus circumvented the ban on boose sale after 9pm. Being a cafe they will have to insist on opening the bottle on the premises but no one will force you to stay there till done.

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Vladimir Lubarov

The girl with the bicycle and the manFamilyAnother painter obsessed with the Russian theme – in particular rural dwellers, eastern Ukrainians (the artist himself is from Kharkyv), and Ashkenazi Jews.

Vladimir Lubarov’s site: www.lubarov.ruAlso read about him here and here.