|I Love "Ufa" in Bashkir|
|My first photo in Russia|
Russian HolidaysSince living in Russia I've experienced different Russian holidays. Kurban Bayram was the first holiday I "celebrated" meaning I got the day off of work. It's not a national holiday, but Bashkortostan has a large Muslim population so it's our Republics holiday. I also experienced the overwhelming holiday of Women's Day, which is supposedly celebrated in the USA but nothing like how it's celebrated in Russia. It's the Valentine's Day of Russia. While Valentine's Day is celebrated in Russia, I think Women's Day is more popular. Finally, I saw the end of the Labor Day parades in Moscow. This coming year I would definitely love to see a Russian New Year and the Victory Day parades.
|Labor Day Parade|
Of course I ate lots of lots of Russian, and Bashkir, food. My diet here has consisted of potatoes and cabbage. Unfortunately, I still can't cook, but I'm actively looking for someone to teach me. I wrote this post about five specific foods I tried, but some of my other favorites are borscht, blini, and kvass. I also drank lots of Georgian and Crimean wine, but I don't think that counts. This coming year I definitely want to try Russian vodka. Is it a travesty that I've been here one year and still haven't tried it?
|Assortment of Russian food|
I did so much traveling this past year that sometimes I think I've been to more Russian airports than American. It actually may be true, but I haven't counted. I've been to five different Russian cities and one different country! I'm trying to save money by exploring as much of Russia as I can before I leave.Madrid, Spain for the first time to spend New Years with my cousin and her husband. Spain was my first Western European city.
The Russian cities I've visited are Ufa (of course)...
and St. Petersburg...
and Kazan (three times)...
and Moscow (twice)...
and, finally, Irkutsk and Lake Baikal.
I have so many other Russian cities on my list including Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, and Sochi. I would also like to see more of Bashkortostan and go to a Russian village at some point. I found out the other day Anton has never been to St. Petersburg, so I'd like to go back with him but not in the winter. I don't want hypothermia again. Unfortunately, this coming year I'll be pinching pennies so we'll see how much I will be able to see.
I did something in Russia I never thought I'd do again. I rode a Ferris Wheel. I'm terrified of Ferris wheels, and I don't know what I was thinking when I went onto it. I guess I wasn't really thinking. I experienced so much anxiety that I ended up having a dream that night that I saw the devil, and I woke up to my first experience of sleep paralysis. It was actually my first "date" with Anton, and I keep telling him we'll ride another Ferris wheel, but I don't know if I can do it.
|The wheel of death|
If you follow my Instagram at all you'll notice I like weird things. I love finding those hidden gems in a city, and it actually makes living in Ufa a lot more exciting. Russia is full of cool, and especially abandoned, things. I've been to an abandoned observatory, an abandoned sanatorium, and an abandoned town. I've seen some really cool street art in all of the cities I've visited. I went to some really cool museums that I totally recommend. The Forest Museum in Ufa, Museum of Soviet Life and Museum of Illusions in Kazan, and the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow were definitely worth seeing and I would highly suggest all of them. I also recommend visiting Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow - blog post to come!
|The movie theater at Green Cape Sanatorium.|
The last thing I did this year was start a new tradition and hashtag. I have taken pictures with every Vladimir Lenin statue I have seen and posted them under the hashtag #selfiewithvlad on Instagram. I wrote this post in June, but since then I visited three more bringing my one year total to 13! My goal for next year is to visit at least one new statue. Since I don't have a lot of money I'm not sure how often I'll be traveling which means I don't know how often I will come across a new statue.
I absolutely love Russia and although their are times when I wish I was back in America I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. The friends I made here, both Russian and foreign, have been great and have really helped me love my time here. A few more things I'd like to do in the next year are improve my Russian, learn how to cook blini and borscht, visit more abandoned places, go to a banya and dacha, and continue writing more blog posts that will convince you to come visit!
Bonus! While there aren't many great Russian musicians I have really come to appreciate Dolphin, and I recommend you listen to some of his music. I hope to go to one of his concerts before I leave.
What kind of blog posts are you hoping to see in the next year?