For those with a love of travel and a longing to explore exotic destinations far away from home, you may have a bucket list of places you long to visit during the course of a lifetime. Many of us have ticked off a number of these locations over the years or are in the process of saving our pennies toward an ultimate travel nirvana. For me that destination is without a doubt Russia and in 2016 I traveled there spending an incredible 9 days traveling visiting both Moscow and St. Petersburg.
So, why then you may reasonably ask does a girl from Australia travel approximately 15,000 kilometers or 9,008 miles and over 23 hours in the air one way, to visit Russia.
I'm so happy at this point its incredible!
As far back as I can remember Russia held me in total fascination from my early days of collecting stamps around the age of 8 years old, I fondly remember treasuring my collection of stamps celebrating the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. This collection featured a range of stamps representing each country participating in the games.
These games were tragically overshadowed when members of the Black September terrorist group kidnapped eleven Israeli athletes from the Olympic Village, killing two and taking another nine hostage. During the rescue attempt undertaken by German authorities, the remaining Israeli athletes and all but three of the terrorists were killed.
In my early working life, I used to commute daily on the train to reach my workplace in the city. There was an obscure little newspaper stand at the central railway station which sold the Pravda Russian newspaper in English.
I remember back to those days as I recall the look of horror and disgust I received by a number of my fellow commuters as they would 'tusk tusk' away at me for my choice of reading material. Every now and again, the word 'commie' would be heard amongst the silent whispers of the commuters.
Later in life around the time of the birth of my first child, I used to watch the nightly news in the wee hours as I fed my every demanding baby and pondering the future for my son as Ronald Regan's plan for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)otherwise known as The Star Wars Program hit the airwaves and featured regularly in the nightly news, way back in 1983. Regan's program was designed to develop an anti-ballistic missile defense system to prevent attacks from other countries - specifically the Soviet Union.
That now famous speech made by US President Ronald Reagan in West Berlin on June 12, 1987 called for the then leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev to 'Tear down this wall' which had divided East and West Berlin since 1961.
By November 1989 the face of communism and the cold war was beginning to thaw throughout Eastern Europe. After several weeks of unrest, a spokesperson for East Berlin's Communist Party announced that beginning midnight, citizens of the GDR were free to cross the borders of the country.
Moscow By Night - GUM Department Store
As I became older and the availability of books on Russia and all things Russian became more readily available I would devour them at every opportunity. With the advent of Kindle books, Amazon and Audible my reading library on any and all topics related to Russia became exhaustive.
I've read most everything I've been able to get my hands on from the Cold War to Russian history, Communism and the classics by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Alexander Pushkin and Leo Tolstoy, the Russian Revolution, the fall of communism, Lenin, Stalin and now Putin. To this very day I cannot satiate my appetite for all things Russian.
So it was in August 2016, I left the shores of Australia for a journey of approximately 23 hours by air (not including the time spent at airports during transit) to reach my bucket list destination of Russia, landing at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport.
One of my highly educated and professional Russian guides with Travel All Russia Tours
Over the course of the following 9 days my journey took my on a fully guided tour throughout many of the key locations in and around Moscow followed by a journey on the Sapsan High Speed Train to St. Petersburg.
This trip truly was the most amazing journey for me personally. The thing is though, having now tasted the wonders of Russia I am eager to once again return and experience a tour to other regions of Russia including a journey by rail on the Trans-Siberian railway, which has now been added to my newly revised bucket list!
It's been a little over a year now since my trip to Russia and yet my love of all things Russian has not abated, in fact its increased to the point I've totally exhausted all the reading resources on the topic I can get my hands on!
You can read more about my journey to Russia in coming articles by subscribing. If you have any questions about Russia drop me an email, I'd be so glad to help.