We set ourselves the challenge of summing up our 3 week adventure in 10 photographs that define our experiences of Russia. From the dazzling lights of commercial Moscow to the humble shamanic shores of Olkhon Island, we want to share with you our favourite pictures of the unique travel destination that is Russia, a country so huge and so different for it.
1. GUM Department
Nowhere signifies the decadence of Central Moscow better than the GUM department store next to Red Square. Expect police checkpoints, x-ray scanners and stoney faced doormen on the way in. That said ignoring security is easy, just look up and devour the opulent lighting of streets outside. Excessive but beautiful, Russia in nut shell.
2. Shaman Rock
The home of an ancient shaman who used to live among the rocks on the face closest to the water, quite treacherous to climb. It was a great place to watch the sunset from, joined by painters, photographers and the spiritual.
3. St Basils Cathedral
Needs no introduction, a masterpiece in ornate architecture and truly one of Russia’s stand out sights. Very often, hyped ‘must see’ attractions fail to live up to expectations. St Basils is an exception, a true one-of-a-kind structure brought into existence by the infamous Ivan The Terrible; underpinning the majesty, the orthodox and the beautiful history of old Russia!
4. Shaman Flags On Olkhon Island
Our mini bus driver dropped us off on the top of the hill, pointed to the beach and laughed at our plan of camping. Undeterred we started our march downwards noticing these poles and flags being licked by the wind. Shaman rock has been a place of pilgrimages worthy of spiritual visitors for generations and the poles stand as reminder of it's mysterious past. There was something very cleansing about camping so close to a place like this. Perhaps our favourite place in Russia.
5. Conquerors Of Space
Soviet propaganda at its finest, a titanium sculpture celebrating soviet achievements in space. Built in 1964 in memory of Russian cosmonauts advances, the sculpture looms 107 metres into the sky representing a rocket take off. At the base, ‘the people’ of Russia are formed into a shuttles flame projecting the ever so important communist values of society as one. Probably the most impressive soviet sculpture in Moscow.
6. Ribbons In The Trees
You know you’re in a place that is loved when you find ribbons in the trees. We stumbled onto this one during a beach walk on Olkhon Island. We selected this photo because it shows the spiritual side of Russia, the Mongolian influence, and what a surprise it was to us. East of the Ural Mountains Russia changes and becomes difficult to categorise, it’s a must-visit for travellers coming to this country.
7. A Wonder In The Woods
On face value this could be any woods in the world but we picked it because it says something about the low lighting we found in Russia. The light just feels different to other countries! In this shot it’s seeping through the trees bringing the forest to life. Photographers that enjoy shooting during twilight will love Russia.
8. Springs of Arshan
Why is the bowl red? You may ask. It’s because these natural springs emit water with huge amounts of iron in it, it’s turned the bowl red and every sip has a metallic aftertaste. The Mongolian families that live in Arshan make daily pilgrimages to re-stock on this health boosting natural resource. You can’t travel to Eastern Siberia without trying it.
9. Graffiti On Flower Mountain
Dog mountain might have been a better name as we were joined by many Disney ‘Up’ canine companions on way to the peak. Not that there is one in the photo, just Mark and some quite tastefully applied graffiti. Moody, beautiful and symbolic because the next day we would board a train into Mongolia passing these very mountains.
10. Trans Siberian Sunset, With Vodka
You guessed it, as we left Siberia’s beautiful marshmallow sky it only seemed right that we would do so sipping on Lake Baikal organic vodka from our cabin on the train. We were lucky with the weather, this was the perfect way to leave Russia.
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