Sunday, 5 August 2007

From Russia with love

Borsch, Salyanka, Pelmeni, Perishki, Kakleti, Porridge etc. All the foods that i grew up on at both of my grandparents place back in Australia i ate, and it all tasted and smelt exactly the same with bucket loads of the herb 'dill' on everything, even French Fries.
I loved Russia, it is so different to any of the other places i have been to so far and there is so much to see. I pretty much saw all the major sites but needed to spend a lot more time at each one. Going to the Red Square, the Kremlin, clubbing and many other places in Moscow, seeing and swimming in the largest, freshest and cleanest lake in the world - Lake Baikal, trying to take in as much as i could at the Hermitage in St. Petersberg, growing a Russian moustache and having a traditional Russian sauna.

Being spanked by a Russian.
Traditional Russian sauna's are like no other. The sauna's that i have experienced in the past have just been a hot room where you sit and sweat in a temperature that is around 80-90 degrees. Well a Russian sauna is similar but a completely different experience. First of all it is 120 degrees and you are lying naked breathing through your mouth as your nose burns if any air goes in. Once you are sizzling in your own juices, 'Eugene' our Honcho (tour guide) slaps and spanks your body with your choice of a Birch or a Pine tree branch that has been soaking in hot water. The first few hits you tense up not knowing where or how hard the next slap will be, but you then relax and it is actually quite soothing until it is time to turn over where all my concentration was making sure my hands were covering every inch downstairs as the beating continued. Dehydrated, soothed and smelling like a Christmas tree, you then stumble out meeting a huge bucket of cold water that is tipped all over you. (In winter you jump in the snow outside).

Clubbing in Moscow.
With everyone ready and pumped to go out, our Honcho in Moscow 'Andrew' took us to a club called 'Prison'. After showing your ID to 2 huge Russian bouncers, you then go through a metal detector, patted down then have your wallet checked in every compartment for drugs and knives before entering. With a mixture of Russian and western trance and techno, i was in heaven as i Melbourne shuffled it up on the dancefloor half drunk and in my own little world. Along the top of the bar were topless female strippers showing their goods to paying patrons and with drinks flowing and a male toilet where you look out onto the crowd thanks to a two-way mirror, it was one of the best clubbing experiences i've had. Sightseeing the next day was hard as we got back at 5 or 6am.

A few people would like to know if i liked Moscow or St. Petersberg better. And i would have to say i liked Moscow better as i spent more time there and saw a lot more than St. Petersberg. Although The Hermitage in the 'Berg was the most impressive site i have ever seen.

I am now in London for 4-5 days then off to Belgium, Netherlands and Germany until the end of the month. I hope everyone is well back home.