Russia Travel Blog

…or A Waiter, Some Vodka, and a Sausage!

Russia AZ Challenge

It’s been a few years since I traveled in Russia, but it’s the only “R” I could come up with, can you believe that?  At any rate, this story takes place in Leningrad.  What, there’s no such place in Russia?  You’re right.  That’s how old this story is; when I was there St. Petersburg was called Leningrad.

My sister and I went there on a tour, because in 1987 that was really the only way to see Russia.  It was November, and quite cold, but those wily Russians have just the cure for the cold, and it’s called Vodka.

Never one to stick to tours, especially ones dictated by the government, I paid close attention to my visa.  It said I could go anywhere in the two cities listed, Moscow and Leningrad, as long as I didn’t venture past the 10 kilometer point.  Easy.

One evening, we planned to eat dinner somewhere the tour wasn’t.  We found a restaurant and had a great time.  Our waiter’s name was Vasily.  He spoke some English and was thrilled to death to be serving us.  He came over frequently just to chat and asked us to wait until he was off so he could show us his apartment.  Anybody who knows me realizes I was not about to pass up this opportunity.

After his shift, a few of his friends met us all in the alleyway behind the restaurant.  They had “starka” vodka, a brownish variety, and a big sausage.  Right there we proceeded to take a swig, directly from the bottle, and chase it with a bit of sausage.  I felt I must be on candid camera, because I had only seen scenes like this in spy movies.  Don’ t worry, even then, in my 20s I did not drink much, but, as always, I loved the experience!

From there, Vasily took us to his apartment that he shared with three families.  He had one room, and they all shared the bathroom and kitchen facilities.  In hushed voices we talked well into the night.  It was so late when we were ready to head back to our hotel that the bridges had been drawn up, and the only vehicles on the street were the militia.  Again a little scary, but nothing happened and all turned out well.

Needless to say that it’s time to give Russia another try.  I’m pretty sure that in the last 27 years, things have changed dramatically.

Have you ever been to Russia?  What did you think?

30 thoughts on “Russia Travel Blog”

  1. Oh my…as a mother of a daughter I couldn’t help but say oh my, you’re going to an apartment of a male you don’t know in a strange country. You don’t know how you’ll get back to your hotel and you’re drinking after people you don’t know…oh my oh my ohmy. That’s how people disappear, get killed, get raped….not a wise decision in my opinion and probably almost any mother or father you’d ask. But, here you are later telling this story. I would not have left the tour group. Said it before, enjoying traveling through you…but No way would I have done what you did, lol. By the way, how old are you? Being over 60 myself I’m sure has alot to do with how we view these dangerous things you do in different eyes. Did the militia stop you, question you?

    1. Sandy, I was with a male friend of mine, so I wasn’t too worried about some of those issues. I’m 51, getting up there. The militia did not stop me, but for me that was the scariest part of the whole night!

  2. Ha, maybe not changed as much as you think. We loved Russia, but the visa process is a bit of a pain in the &^%. Back in 20’s I probably would have done the same. It’s so different traveling with children. Although we had our bizarre Russia stories too.

  3. Like you, I have been to Russia only once – a few years later, when Leningrad had just changed back to being St Petersburg. John was at a conference and, because he had close professional ties there, we were given an empty apartment to stay in and I had a student minder to show me around. There are many anecdotes related to that trip which probably deserves a series all to itself, the most involved relating to an alleged cocktail party which ended up on a mosquito-ridden station platform with John beating my legs with twigs to keep the bugs from devouring them. Actually, I’m not tempted to go back!

      1. I think surreal rather than nightmarish. Even at the time it was all just so outrageously eccentric I had to laugh. It certainly made for a good dinner party story.

  4. theegetawaygal

    Corinne, you were brave!! 🙂 You should go back, how fun to see the difference from your first visit. I have not been to Russia but I have tasted their Vodka’s… Yum!

  5. We nearly applied for our visa to Russia before our trip got cancelled. Although we were lucky then, I still want to go. 1. It was freezing in Moscow in January (probably the worst time to visit). 2. If we had got our visas and not gone, we might not have been given visas again for the rest of our lives!

    1. Drifting Traveller, Really, If you apply for a Russian visa and don’t go they won’t give you another one? Hmmm. I thought Russia was fascinating, but I really have to go again. That was a long time ago!

  6. Great story! and why am I not surprised you had a restriction on your visa. Why were you and your sister there? Just traveling?

  7. Great story! 27 years is a good reason to go back. Of all the countries I’m sure Russia has changed more than any other though I don’t think Tehran would be as I found it in the days of the Shah!

    1. Jenny, I almost went to Iran with a Persian friend of mine when I was in 8th grade in the mid 70s. My parents felt it was a little too risky and didn’t let me go. How did you go?

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