April 28th, 2015

On the frozen river

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At one point during the last Russian journey, we had to make a choice in the route. Drive over a frozen river, or take a direct route on pavement. The choice was mine, and I picked the frozen way because for me there's still a great thrill in experiencing such places.

When we arrived at the point, there were large signs with weight limits for the cars and passenger restrictions. The sign warned that only one person should be in the car during the crossing. I can't understand the logic of this? The entry point was at the top of a hill, so the non-driving passenger would be forced to walk down a very slippery, icy slope to reach the other side. Well, my fellow traveler decided to ignore the weight restrictions (our car was over the limit), yet abide by the one passenger rule. The result - I carefully maneuvered my way down the icy path to the other side, carrying a heavy backpack full of camera equipment.

But the post is not about that. Often I feel the need to visit some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am. There is no mystery about why such experiences are cathartic. Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, daily routine, refrigerator full of food and closet full of clothes - with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experiences inevitably make you aware of yourself in a way that is often lost in the daily grind of life. Incredibly aware of who and what is most important in life. This is not always comfortable, but it's always invigorating. How about you? Where do you go to escape and clear your mind?

P.S.: I don't know the name of this place, but a friend informed me it's the Sukhona River.

Winter Impressions from Suzdal, Russia

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If you look in any guidebook or website about tourism in Russia, Suzdal will always be mentioned as one of the top attractions. It's a cozy little place, but I can't understand the appeal. There is nothing to see here except churches and a lot of colorful wooden houses, which you can view in almost any other city in Russia. Of all the churches, the wooden ones in Suzdal are my favorite, probably because they remind me of secluded, wilderness cabins from a distance. What is the lure for tourists? Perhaps it's just the easy accessibility from Moscow, the central starting point for most large, organized tours for foreigners. The city was my first stop during the last Russian trip, and after awaking at the crack of dawn, we ventured off to see one of the most well-known cities along the Golden Ring.Collapse )