Who would have ever thought that a girl from the Northside of Houston would ever see Russia? Not Me!
To visit this country was a long shot expectation, it was actually my husband Rusk's idea. He being the lover of history and student of government had wanted to see this particular country for a long time. I of course, always go along for me any visit to any place is an opportunity to buy for my boutique.
I've taken long flights before but this one just felt longer and more tiresome. We flew Singapore airlines a direct flight Houston to Moscow for 12 hours. Adjusting to this huge time zone change was hard, it took me a while longer while my boys adjusted much quicker.. by now those two are seasoned travelers.
First Impressions: it's a very clean organized country, the people are really serious (no smiling) and it gets very cold very fast!
First place we visited was the Kremlin, which is a fortified complex at the heart of Moscow. We entered St. Basils Cathedral and the Red Square. Seeing this part of the world brought back memories of the Cold War and how as a girl of the 80's we would never even consider going to The Soviet Union, it was like going behind enemy lines. However, it is a much different place now, we noticed plenty of great shopping, tourism and amazing food.
The language is completely different since the alphabet is cyrillic, there is almost nothing you can understand. Most people around the world speak English, but it became evident that in Russia we didn't find many who did. Thankfully we had arranged to have tour guides who led us to the most important sights.
On arrival in St. Petersburg, which is also known as the Venice of the North, where the days were long and nights were short we visited Catherine and Peter the Great's summer and winter palaces. Here we were able see the 18th century Amber room, arguably a Wonder of the World. We were also able to partake in some unique cuisines from the Caucuses, most specifically the country of Georgia.
St. Petersburg is more Western European in its architectural design due to French influence during the Romanov period. One of the world's most important museums; The Hermitage which rivals the Louvre in Paris, is a testament to this particular architectural theme.
This unique nation with a unique mix of European and Asian heritage is at the cultural axis between the West and the East. A true center of rich culture mixed with some grit and a penchant for survival.
Russia now has a special place in my heart!