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The Curiosity of Russia

January 10, 2018

By Michael Sheridan

Russia is a curious place that I did not understand, and while I got a brief insight while travelling the width of the country on the Trans-Siberian Railway, I still don’t completely understand the varying mind-sets of its people. Outwardly very rough and stoic, it takes something like being locked on a train for 6 days with somebody before they unwind a little and open up to you, and I have our wonderful cabin mate Milla to thank for her insights on her country. They are extremely proud people, and while they openly admit they consider smiling at strangers weird, they are incredibly warm and welcoming once you get past their frosty outward demeanour.

Beauty was not something I had previously associated with Russia, if you exclude the catwalk parade of model-esque women that line its streets, but it is a visually stunning country that requires hours of window gazing to appreciate. From the elegant architecture of St. Petersburg to the never ending forests of Siberia, there is a diversity to its beauty and also the people’s standard of living. Away from the expensive clubs and art galleries of Moscow, basic wooden huts line the railway line and populate the villages on the edge of the world’s deepest lake, Baikal (1,642m deep). Even in summer the lake is chilly to swim in, but there are several toasty banyas (sauna) on its edge to warm the toes, which lead directly into the water. If that doesn’t heat you up, there’s always vodka.

The Trans-Siberian Railway is a worthy bucket list trip. The relaxing nature of the never ending train journey is unique, and while we ventured off track to Beijing, I made mental plans to return and go on to Vladivostock. Preferably in winter next time when the appeal of the warm train cabins and banyas can have its full effect.

Moscow, Russia – Long exposure motion blur of traffic driving past the Kremlin at night

St.Petersburg, Russia – Knyaz Vladimirskiy Cathedral at sunset on the Neva River

St.Petersburg, Russia – Smiling Babushka selling fruit outside a SKA ice hockey match

St.Petersburg, Russia – Concrete apartment blocks in a residential district

Novosibirsk, Russia – Stoic provodnik who looked after our carriage on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Novosibirsk, Russia – Stunning sunset as the Trans-Siberian Railway snakes its away across the world’s largest country

Khuzhir, Olkhon, Russia – Kids laugh and play on the isolated island in the middle of Lake Baikal

Khuzhir, Olkhon, Russia – Traditional Siberian wooden home with colourful ornate fences

Khuzhir, Olkhon, Russia – Dramatic sunset over the world’s deepest lake, Baikal

Khuzhir, Olkhon, Russia – A Russian sauna, banya, on the edge of Lake Baikal

Khuzhir, Olkhon, Russia – The sauna steps lead into the lake for a chilly dip

Khuzhir, Olkhon, Russia – A solitary cow walks along the shore of Lake Baikal

Irkutsk, Russia – Autumn in Siberia on the isolated roads around Lake Baikal

Visit Michael’s website or follow him on Instagram for more travel photography.

Michael Sheridan is a photographer who loves to travel and has worked for Stories for Good to produce photography case studies for charities in India and Nepal. His work has been exhibited at WOMAD festival and he has won awards in National Geographic Traveller magazine and The Telegraph.
  • Reply
    Alan Rimmer
    January 10, 2018 at 11:05 am

    Michael, a most interesting article – thank you. Hope you make it to Vladivostok some day.
    Safe and happy travels, Alan

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