The Russian Federation is the largest country in the world by area. The 17,125,200 square kilometers wide country is home to more than 144 million people. During our 14-days trip through Russia we have learned many curious facts about this country.
We took the train from the capital Moscow to Irkutsk, a city close to the famous Baikal Lake. While taking this train we went along the longest railway line in the world. The Trans-Siberian Railway connects Moscow with the other end of the country (Vladivostok) since 1916. The line consists of 9,289 km that is equal to 5,772 miles. There are several other branch lines leading towards Mongolia, China or South Korea. The Railway is not only used to carry passengers, as well as around 200,000 containers per year are brought towards Europe.
It passes a total of 8 time zones, which brings us to fact number two.
Russia has 11 time zones and is the only one that has 10 of them in one landmass. The zones stretch from UTC +2 to UTC +12. Since 2011 there is no more Daylight Saving Time. Imagine New Year’s Eve there ?.
Russians are well known for their feeling for fashion. Especially young and elderly women can be found even in extreme winter conditions well dressed and with perfect makeup on. One thing we were wondering still, how can you wear a short dress or skirt when it is so cold? Really ladies, how do you manage that? Maybe the aspect of fashion is more important than we thought. The next fact is about men fashion.
Already during the first days I was wondering why most of the men were wearing their traditional hat above their ears, instead of using it to keep them warm. So I made some researches. This, especially in winter worn hat is called Ushanka and leads from the Russian word “Ushi”, that means ears. It is said that the ear flaps are worn to crown the hat and they are only pulled down when it gets colder than -20 degrees. And indeed we have seen many men wearing their Ushanka with the flaps ahead, an interesting tradition carried out by young and elderly men.
Omul, the specialty from Baikal Lake. The Baikal Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the world, by the volume, and the world deepest lake. This area is home to the Omul Fish. It is part of the salmon family and traditionally served with pepper, salt and onion in all kinds of ways: cooked, grilled, dried in form of a soup or a salad.
We stay in the culinary corner with the next fact.
In Russia and even outside of Russia you will always find them drinking Tea. Next to Vodka the tea plays an important role. The tea culture in Russia is not only about the drink, but it’s also an essential piece of social life. Usually, black tea is served. In small supermarkets you can find most of the time only black or green tea. Other kinds of tea exist in pharmacies or big supermarket chains.
One thing Russia is very proud of is the world-famous Metro line in Moscow. I personally haven’t seen anywhere else such charming Metro stations. It’s not only known for its beauty but also plays an important role in the daily life of many inhabitants of Moscow. It connects 12 lines with 207 stations.
The next curious fact is about transportation as well. We have seen several cars with the steering wheel on the right side. First we thought only the older cars have it but with a deeper look you can find almost the equal amount of cars with the steering wheel on the right and the left side, older and newer cars. Especially the more east you come the more you find them. The simple explanation is that many cars are imported from Japan and there they drive on the left side of the street.
Everything is translated into Russian. And everyone that has ever seen a Russian word knows that they are using a completely different alphabet. This is also the reason why sometimes it was very difficult to orientate ourselves, as even names were translated and due to the different alphabet it’s not even possible to find a connection between words. In some areas as airports or some train stations you could find some English words. What I found weird is that even the names of big brands like McDonalds or BurgerKing were translated. But don’t worry, this should not be a reason not to travel to Russia as we found everywhere some friendly people in case we needed help. And if you want to communicate there is always a way!
Would you like to see more pictures of Russia? Click here.