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Russia

Curious what backpackers do in Russia? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Moscow Central Mosque.

    I was trying to buy some jeans and turned around a corner to see a massive golden dome atop a turquoise mosque, not something I expected in Moscow. It shouldn't be too surprising, apparently 6 of the 15 republics within the USSR had a Muslim majority and Moscow's a major destination for (economic) migrants from the former Soviet Union. I'm not sure what the rules are but in my head it seems similar to migrants from the former British Empire migrating to the UK/London.

    This migration, and I imagine movement during the Soviet Period and before, makes Moscow pretty multi-ethnic. Russia as a whole actually consists of numerous republics and has quite a number of (native) minority groups living within it, it isn't all Slavic, which doesn't match up with the image of Russia (or Moscow) that I knew about before visiting last summer.

    There are 4 permitted mosques in the city, this is the largest of them. This mosque holds 10,000 worshippers, however Moscow still lacks capacity for it's 1 million residents who are Muslim and 1.5 million of it's migrant workers who are also Muslim. Moscow has a total population of approx. 14 million, London has about 8.

    I've asked a couple of people (girls, 2 Russian, 1 British) if they'd been and they either didn't realise you/they could visit a mosque or have never considered going. Not sure if this would be different if I asked guys the same question. As far as I'm aware mosques, like churches, are open to visitors, you'd just have to use the correct entrance...? And maybe don't go on a Friday as there might be a lot of people praying.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/islam_in_the_soviet_union
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/moscow_cathedral_mosque
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/islam_in_russia#islam_in_moscow
    Read more

  • Entrance to Gorky Park (viewed from inside the park).

    I came here in Summer last year, it was definitely warmer then! There's loads of stuff to do in Gorky Park in summer, in winter it appears that most of that is closed. This isn't too surprising as everything's covered in snow and the paths are covered in ice* but soon they'll open up the ice-rink.

    There's relief of Lenin's head on the reverse side of these gates. After consulting my словарь (dictionary) I've worked out that it's about him coming to an agricultural exhibition that was held here in 1923. I've never been taught the word "селскохозяйственнвй" (agricultural) otherwise I'd have totally deciphered this at the park...(?)

    (Снег, снег, снег!)

    *All the main roads and pavements in Moscow seem to be de-iced though. Every day, possibly several times a day, you can see/hear someone clearing away the ice/snow from the pavements around my block of flats. They don't seem to use grit though, they just scrape it away.
    Read more

  • Дайв подпил монумент покорителям космоса.

    -------

    This is just outside/on top of the Cosmonaut Museum.
    I've never been to a museum about space travel but this place was great. It's probably common knowledge but apparently the Soviet Union did a whole lot in the realm of space travel and a lot of that's on display in this museum, including the singed landing capsules of a few rockets!
    There was also a mini-exhibition about how space travel influenced everyday life in the Soviet period (toys, clothes, posters, etc.) There were a few ('open') comments about "Khrushchev's Thaw" in a way that I don't remember seeing when I visited the State Museum of Contemporary History last summer.

    Fun facts (probably all slightly incorrectly noted down):
    - USSR had first probe in space, probe in orbit, animal(s) in space and then in orbit, manned space flight, spacewalk, docking of two aircrafts...
    - A Russian scientist called Tsiolkovsky was writing papers about space travel in the late 19th century (and after), some of which was later used to develop and improve Soviet (and I'd assume other) space programmes.
    - The former head(?) of the Soviet space programme (Sergei Korolev) played a major part in the first couple of decades of Soviet space travel, he'd been sent to Kolyma during Stalin's Terror where, according to Wikipedia, he lost most of his teeth due to scurvy.
    - There used to be two theories about the moons surface, one saying it was hard and the other saying it was soft, no mention of cheese was given in the museum.
    - The trusses which hold a rocket in place and can be seen moving away from a rocket during launch work by counter-weight. They're held in place by the rocket and move away as it starts to lift off(!)
    - Laika, the first dog in space, died due to the flight pod overheating whilst orbiting the earth.
    - Soviet Scientists chose cross-breeds for their size, ability to handle extreme conditions. "...all of them had already passed through the natural selection of the streets and hard conditions of unsettled ways of life."
    - You can buy space food from a vending machine inside the museum.
    - There was a 3rd man (Michael Collins) in the Apollo 11 flight but he didn't (get to?) walk on the moon.
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  • Kotor is a beautiful walled city nestled in between the mountains and the sea inlet. There are no cars, and stray cats everywhere. We walked up the old wall to a church with a gorgeous view of the city and the bay.

  • More, presumably, apartment blocs near mine. There's a strip of shops n restaurants/cafes at the bottom and an entrance to the metro.

    You get people trying to sell flowers, herbs, clothes (possibly some homemade, some of it definitely looks pre-purchased) and perfume around there too, and theres often a lady selling foraged mushrooms :).

  • A short busy six days with Anya. Added this this leg to attend the wedding of Ira and Sasha. And now I can say I've been to a Russian wedding. Was a great experience that I will always remember. Ceremony was an official one like Sandra and Marc's wedding. With vows and sighning of the marriage contact, completely different from the religious ceremonies in the Americas. Did get to hit Jamie's Italien, duck at Asia and The Caviar Bar at The Eupora for champagne and Armenian caviar. Then it was off to the airport at 3.00 in the morning to head to Paris.Read more

  • Moscow State University

    Stalin had 7 skyscrapers built in Moscow* all in a similar "Stalinist" style. I've seen, I think 4, up close and this one wins on size, perhaps aided by it being positioned on top of a hill. This boasts a clock-shaped thermometer, a barometer and a clock-shaped clock. I have no idea how to read either of the first two but the clock was telling the right time.

    *He also had several built in other cities e.g. Riga and, my first Stalinist love, the Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

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