Before this trip I didn‘t know, what and how it‘s gonna be like. Originally I wanted to learn some Russian and also started with some lessions in Salzburg, but due to timing issues, I could only visit half of them. Also I‘ve heard some stories, that russians don‘t really know and foreign (european) languages.
Until Poland there was not much difference to Austria. Then, when entering the train to Moscow, I found myself in a different world. The compartment was quite narrow and it was the frst time I had to deal with the russian mentality. Also the first days in Moscow were kind of a „get to know the russians“.
In the meanwhile I must say, I didn‘t really have any problems in this country. Most people I tried to talk to spoke at least some English or some German and if this was not the case, we helped ourselfves with the dictionary and hands and feet.
The russian people were quite different. In Moscow, most of the people were quite unfriendly. Especially in restaurants or when you just wanted to ask someone anything. The more east I got so far the friendlier th people were. Most of them wanted to know, where I am from and where I am travelling to. Also the question „why Russia?“ came up a couple of times.
The only really bad experience so far was in Ekaterinburg. Matt, Flo and myself entered a pub together with a russian and an american friend of Matt. When we ordered our drinks, the waitress said that its‘s not normal, when russians are bringing any foreigners anywhere, because in her eyes it‘s supposed to be „normal“, when russian are staying among themselves and foreigners as well.
In Nizhny Novgorod we had also a strange experience. Flo and me were walking through the pedestrian zone and stopped at a square, where a demonstration against homophobia took place. The demonstration was with five people quite small. As it started to rain, we went in a Café where we could see the people standing there. After some minutes three guys, all of them equipped with large photo and video cameras also came on the veranda where we were sitting. Without ordering anything they started to make videos and pics of the demonstrators. In the beginning we were not quite sure, what’s all that gonna be about, but we were quite sure, that there was some political reason behind for this.
In Moscow, some days after Conchita Wurst won the song contest, some russians congratulated me, when they heard I am from Austria as well, but we shouldn’t speak to much about it, as they might get some problems, when someone wrong is listening to that.
All in all the 4 weeks an Russia were a great experience, having seen lots of interesting places and met lots of interesting people. Could use another month in this country to see some other cities. The highlight of Russia was definitely the tour to Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal.