Elbrus and Pyatirgorsk was our first and definitely favourite trip in Russia. The scenery was amazing and there we got confidence that our knowledge of Russian language is sufficient for independent travel. It wasn’t touristy, views were spectacular, especially the view from Cheget overlooking Elbrus, Mike completing Elbrus 46km race, relaxing time in Pyatirgorsk, where we visited home and duel place of Lermontov and huge sanatoriums in Kislovodsk. Elbrus - the highest peak in Europe 5,642 m
Coming to Russia we wanted to experience proper Russian winter and we did experience it in Irkutsk with -27 degrees and Baikal Marathon that was from one shore to other across the frozen lake. After that we don’t have any more desire to experience the winter, we are now longing for hot climate. It was properly cold there.
Our trip to Yekaterinburg started not very promising, but then we got hooked up on the Romanov history and the trip got so much more interesting. We visited Romanov museum, we really enjoyed the trip to Gama Yama where Romanov’s bodies were found and we read a lot about the events related to their killings.
Our trip to Kazan, capital of Tatarstan was very relaxing. Mike liked it a lot, while I found it a bit disappointing, because I was expecting more Tatar influence. We left with very positive feelings, we found Kazan a nicely restored, very clean town almost like on the poster.
St Petersburg we visited on a couple of occasions. We will always remember it as “jewel” of Russia with impressive fountains in Peterhof, amber room in Carskoe Selo (now called Pushkin), lovely buildings in the centre and Hermitage. We didn’t stick to main attractions only, we visited some less popular ones like Pushkin House and Faberge Egg Museum, which we enjoyed enormously.
In autumn we were on the mission to visit the Moscow’s parks. Our main favorite remains Gorky Park, which happens to be walking distance from our apartment. We spent there many many hours, walking and cycling and running and skating in the winter. Unforgettable is how the parks beautifully transform into ice rinks.
Moscow with the Red Square and St Basil Cathedral will always remain in our minds. Every New Year on TV there are shown fireworks from around the world and Moscow is always there - they never going to look the same for us. We walked a lot around the Moscow, we enjoyed the museums and parks and restaurants … But didn’t like the traffic and the pollution and fact that Moscow is not a cyclist friendly city.
During winter in Moscow we visited many house-museums, there was hardly any weekend in winter when we didn’t go and see a museum. We were quite good in doing prep work and usually read and prepared before the visit. Our favourite from winter times remains the house of Leo Tolstoy.
During summer and winter we did many one-day trips outside Moscow. For long we will remember old houses in Suzdal, white huge cerkvas in Vladimir, impressive monastyr In Sergey Posad, Abramtsevo where we learned so much about famous Russian artists (after that we visited Tretyakovskaya Gallery and our visit was so much more meaningful), Tchaikovkyj house in Klin….. But our favorite will be Melihovo, estate of Anton Chekov where Chekhov plays were performed during the day, what else can I say, it was knowledgeable.
In terms of work, we both found it tough especially at the beginning. It took time for us to settle in and earn trust and to become a part of the team. But judging by the send off we received (we couldn't wish for a better one) we hope that we made some positive impact and will be remembered in a positive way.
Mike definitely won't forget team BBQ interrupted by thunderstorms and heavy rain, nights in the stores for RFID migrations and painful NPS rollouts, constant “fire in the zoo” and many other………
The send off was impressive - video, personalised beer and Jack Daniels, pair of cool red trainers and even a personaised Russian team shirt.
For me unforgettable will be my team, Max (aka turtle=czerepaha addicted to alcohol and drugs), Alena (rabbit = zajczyk who starts behaving like drunk when she eats meat with tea), Sergey B (big guy called cvetochek), Sergey P (called Spielberg after creating many promo videos) and Nikifor (called Gucci as he created team T-shirt, funny landing pages and laughable photoshopped photos that kept us entertained ). I would like to believe that we worked hard but never forgotten to laugh.
The quests will always be associated with Moscow. We visited many of them. The quests become "must do" when we had any visitors and a great activity for a team event. Myself and Mike took our teams to the quests as well. Hope they enjoyed them as much as we did ….
Celebrations of Woman’s Day on 8 March is a national holiday widely celebrated also in our office. The preparations are taking weeks and involve top management and it really makes all the girls to feel special. 9 of May, end of the II World War is another celebration that includes the big army parade and shows how proud Russians are of their heroes who fought and died during the war. Each celebration is accompanied with the spectacular firework display – Russian really know how to do fireworks.
It took us a long time to settle in and feel comfortable. We needed time to get used to the Russian way of driving. We never managed fully understand how the holiday’s payment is calculated and the amount of paperwork was a shock for us. The recycling has not been introduced yet. We never could understand why the streets are cleaned so frequently next day after heavy rain or on Saturday mornings in Gorky Park, so popular with runners (sometimes it felt like Wellies are more appropriate than trainers)
We had a great time in Moscow and are returning full of memories and stories to tell. We made good friends, whom we are very grateful for showing us around and explaining and teaching about Russian history and culture. We are definitely not going to forget our time in Russia quickly.