In 1466, some 30 years before Columbus arrived in America, the Russian merchant Afanasy Nikitin left his hometown of Tver on a commercial trip to India. Travelling to distant countries in the middle of the XV century was actually even harder than in the "Covid months" of 2020 and it would take Nikitin a staggering three years to reach... Continue Reading →
Live not by lies!
Ah, the irony! I stumbled by chance in this (at least to my eyes) very typical Russian scene. On the background you can see a large mural on the side of a house depicting the writer and Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn with one of his famous quotes: “Live not by lies!” This is actually the... Continue Reading →
The unsung heroes of Chernobyl
In the last few weeks the world watched in amazement (with a potent mix of fascination and horror) HBO's new series Chernobyl, which tells the story of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion in Pripyat, Ukraine, at the time part of the Soviet Union. The series received almost universal acclaim, both because of the... Continue Reading →
Nothing says Business Formal Attire like… – Culture Shock n.11
Imagine you have a clothing store on a central street in a medium-sized Russian city, (about half a million people). Of course you want the maximum possible number of people to see the clothes you sell, in the hope they will like them and come to buy them from you. Your clothes range from business... Continue Reading →
Sunset on the Volga
I wrote in a previous post about how, originally coming from a city surrounded by mountains, I am fascinated by the "vast skies" of the Russian Plain, that spans approximately 4,000,000 km2 (2,000,000 sq mi) without a single mountain. This creates the ideal conditions for absolutely spectacular sunsets, thanks mostly to the fact that you can see the sun disappearing over... Continue Reading →
The resting Antonov AN-2
The Antonov An-2 was one of the most successful Soviet propeller planes. Nicknamed "Annushka" or "Annie", it flew for the first time on 31 August 1947. It was used as a light utility transport, parachute drop aircraft, aerial agricultural work and many other tasks suited to this large slow-flying biplane. Its slow flight and good short field performance... Continue Reading →
Sponsored rubbish, no, really! – Culture Shock n.9
One of the biggest culture shocks I've had in Russia is the (almost) complete absence of recycling. The only recycling I've found prior to 2017 was a series of small volunteer-based (I believe) organizations that leave containers outside of building entrances to collect batteries and then come and take away on a semi-regular basis. After... Continue Reading →
Travel on Russia’s Olympic Train
In 2009, Russian Railways made an order with Siemens for a development of an electric multiple unit train adapted to the Russian environment. The new trains were planned to be used in Sochi for suburban passenger traffic during the 2014 Winter Olympics, and then to be partially transferred to other train lines. Now, three and a half years after the Games, you... Continue Reading →
Lonely ice fisherman in Tver
After yesterday's mega post on such a worrying matter, today I wanted something peaceful and serene!
So I found this image I took this past winter in Tver. I wrote in another previous blog about the danger of walking on frozen rivers, but this is different. Ice fishing is a very strong tradition in Russia and the best places and times and modes to fish on the ice are generally passed from father to son. These guys know what they are doing, they know the river, they know the ice.