Two years ago next month, I made a semi-random decision – skip a trip I had planned with a few girlfriends to go to a place on my bucket list (Machu Picchu, which is still on the list) to join some co-workers on a trip to Russia. And it was an amazing journey.
One of my co-workers/friends was working for our company in Russia temporarily. So I basically reached out to any of our mutual friends to see if they’d like to join me on my trip to this incredibly massive, facinating nation. (10 time zones. We were considering travelling to one area of Russia from another… until we found out that it took 14 hours with a direct flight. WHAT!?) All together, we had six Americans traveling around the Russia together, exploring a new part of the world. St. Petersburg, then off to a completely random small town named Suzdal (note to self: Russian baths are an experience), then off to Moscow.
I would absolutely travel back to St. Petersburg if there was an easy way to travel there from America (Visas are a beast to have available.) It’s a huge group of 42 islands all connected together via bridges, so the entire area is accessible by water. The city is even named after a sailing captain and the crosses on the Russian Orthodox churches (the primary religion of the nation) include anchors. The sailor in me was going a little crazy! It’s called the “Venice of Russia”… so picture that, but on a bit larger scale, and you’ll understand the beauty that is this beyond stunning town (I’m getting butterflies writing about it.)
While I loved the big cities that we visited, I might have loved the Suzdal piece of our visit more than the rest. It was off the beaten path, but it was incredibly peaceful. There were centuries old cathedrals on every corner, a beautiful fortress right next to our Bed & Breakfast, and an old church that was still in ruins from WW II that was right off of the main area of town. Renting bikes and cruising around town was so relaxing – it was the perfect opportunity to reconnect with friends, while seeing an area of the world that so many might not experience. Really a memorable part of my life.
Moscow was, like the rest of the journey, amazing. My favorite parts were the WW II museum – INCREDIBLE to understand Russia’s impact on the war – and the Russian History Museum – understanding that they’re a relatively recent democracy that really started close to when I was born! I feel so much more in tune with understanding where Russia comes from today, since we really hear a skewed view of the world no matter where we are at the time. Plus, the historic points of interest are so well known. It was crazy to visit them in real life!
Beyond these larger pieces of the trip, as there are in any experience, there were small moments that will always be ingrained in my memory. Rooming with my best friend Scott that now lives in New York City. My friend Hillary and I being able to speak with the Russians in French, because so few spoke English. Having an overall other-wordly experience (example – I like Georgian food?!) with friends that I will forever now feel close to will last with me forever.
I hope that you’re able to find yourself saying “yes” to more random experiences than you might expect out of yourself. You’ll never know what kind of adventures you might find!
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What memories are you bringing back this Flashback Friday? Have you visited anywhere recently that you’d recommend checking out?
Create a great life!