For those of you who read my last post, Life in Russia – part one, I’d like to follow it up with some other aspects of daily life in Russia – what I like to call quintessential Russia. Many of the images below are things I love and miss seeing day in and day out. The one photo I don’t have is one of the stray animals – Sochi is not the only Russian city with stray animals. You can pretty much find them anywhere and while it’s very sad, most of the time they keep to themselves and take care of each other. I became so accustomed to seeing them in Saint Petersburg, they were like a normal part of the landscape. Some Russians even take in street cats and dogs and domesticate them. Hopefully, in the future there will be more places for the stray animals in Russia to go.
Another common site in Russia is the babushka – selling anything she can on the side of the road. This is something I miss very much – these babushki sell their produce, flowers, socks, pastries, perfume, etc. because it’s how they get by. The image below is of a babushka selling her lettuce in central St. Petersburg – it was the middle of summer, which is why she is protecting herself from the sun. I always bought stuff from street vendors because they need the money. Flowers were my personal favorite. If you find yourself in Russia, please support these people. They will always figure out ways to communicate.
A common window you might see in St. Petersburg. I just love the curtain in the background and the old wood.
I’m sure you’ve all heard about the manholes in Sochi. Well the photo below will show you a real manhole in Russia (this one is in St. Petersburg). Many Russian cities are old and require regular work on infrastructure. It’s not uncommon to have an entire sidewalk or dvor (courtyard) dug up and then covered with wooden planks so people can keep on walking through. I used love jogging over them, hearing the clanking and hoping I wouldn’t fall through You’re on your own in Russia – you’ve got to take care of yourself and it’s actually quite liberating.
A common school bus in the city center – very much resembles the common marshrutka.
While you won’t see statues of Stalin anywhere (except maybe that one in the park in Moscow where his nose is bashed off), Comrade Lenin graces the streets of many former USSR cities. And when in Moscow, you can actually see his body, which is still preserved in Red Square.
Soviet era block-style housing. One of my favorite sites. It’s pretty incredible to see the same apartment buildings scattered all over the former USSR world. For whatever reason, I just find them fascinating.
The produkti (Продукты) – like a small grocery store, produkti’s are pretty much everywhere in Russia and sometimes open 24 hours a day, or so they say. You can find most necessary food items at a little produkti, not to mention some toiletries, wine/beer and spirits. They’re kind of like an everything shop.
I guess I do have one image of a street cat – or maybe it belongs to someone. I’m not sure, but he/she is adorable This kitty was in Seltso, Russia. Cats are everywhere in Russia.
Babushkas. The iconic symbol of Russia. Most babushka’s wear scarves on their heads. As I mentioned previously, they are often seen selling things on the sidewalks and you will regularly happen upon them during daily life – the babushka below was playing her domra for money in St. Petersburg during the summer months. I really really miss seeing babushka’s, especially on sunny days when they would be out selling flowers.
Stencil graffiti. It’s everywhere – below is the dynamic duo that was Putin and Medvedev.
Interesting street signs. This one below is warning not to drive off the road into the River Neva.
The fruit & veggie stands – I kid you not, they are everywhere. There are even little fruit & vegetable produkti’s. So if you run out of the house without remembering a healthy snack, or if you forgot something at the grocery, no worries! There is likely a produce stand right around the corner somewhere.
It doesn’t get much more quintessential than this: an old Lada and a black cat in the alley way to a dvor (courtyard).
And there are Ladas Ladas everywhere! On the streets, parked on the sidewalk (yes, I said sidewalk), abandoned under a pile of snow, or parked in a park somewhere. You can never escape the Ladas and that’s okay because they are just so darn cool!
Pochta Rossii (and in front of block-style housing no less!) Pochta Roccii is the Russian post office.
The next two images are also very quintessential in that the electrical lines are always interfering with everything. Below, an onion domed church. Onion domed churches (Russian Orthodox) are another example of iconic Russia.
And comrade Kirov! Another remnant of the Soviet past – statues commemorating communism’s heroes are everywhere.
Men breaking ice on top of the roof tops. This is another one of those realities I would love the journalists in Sochi to see – sections of the street blocked off while men throw ice off the roof tops into the streets. I got hit numerous times by ice chunks falling outside the roped-off areas. But it’s a necessity, as the roofs can collapse under the weight of the accumulating ice.
Another Russian window, like one might see on a country dacha. I just love this image (taken in Bryansk).
Which brings me to the next quintessential image – the country dacha. After spending hours and hours on the Russian rail, one can’t help but notice the number of these little homes dotting the countryside.
More Ladas – and Romance! Russians are not shy about showing their affection in public. I just love this image of the happy couple next to the Lada (at Peterhof Park).
Remember those manholes? Well during the holidays they decorated this walkway, typical of those covering the manholes, to make it look all whimsical! This particular walkway was there the entire year I was in St. Petersburg. It’s gone now and I must say, I was kind of sad to see it missing.
Finally, the old wallpaper (such as in my bedroom). I love looking at old photos from Russian interiors, because the old wallpaper always stands out. Oh how I miss that little room.
So there you have it. A bit of quintessential Russia. I’m sure there are other things that I have missed, but my time there is not yet finished. Russia is just such an interesting country – it has such character and history. Я скучаю по тебе Россия!