At the beginning of November I had the chance to visit Russia for 2 weeks. Although many of my well-meaning friends asked something similar to, “wtf, won’t you be cold??” (along with a few Putin/bear/vodka memes), I had a really great time!
…and yes, it was a bit cold, but more on that later…
Instead of doing a long-winded post about everything, I’ve split this into a series that covers my daily adventures; 2 city guides; and a huge haul of things I’ve bought. Stay tuned for the rest– they’re coming out soon! In the meantime, enjoy this photo-heavy post ;)
For the first 10 days, I was staying with my family in Volgograd. We flew through Amsterdam airport (which had a gorgeous rainy day!) …
… and about 8 hours later, I was freezing at the Volgograd airport ?
The first day was supposed to be a casual introduction to the city, so one of the first things we did was board a tram and head to the city center. As someone who’s accustomed to 18C temperature all year, I had to improvise and use my scarf as a hat for the whole day.
Our first stop was a bazaar near the shopping complex. You might think bazaars are similar to those in Morocco or Istanbul, with huge sprawling kiosks selling a bunch of different things, but this one was fairly small and only sold produce and meat.
We ended up buying feijoa, the little green fruit on the bottom left (220 ruble/kg). I’ve never tried it before, but it has a really interesting flavor/texture that’s similar to dragon fruit.
A few seconds after I snapped this photo, this huge burly man walks over and asks why I’m taking photos (guess nobody ever takes a photo in the bazaar?). After telling him it’s for a travel blog, he stares for a few seconds and silently walks off. I wonder what he was thinking after that ?
A few blocks from the bazaar was this huge shopping mall. I quite like the design here, it’s so modern and chic! Plus, there are so many stores to shop in–but more on that in my shopping haul post :)
Next up, we went to the metro. As someone who lived without public transportation for 18 years and then suddenly moved to San Francisco (where we have 6 metro lines! Yes, 6!), I’ve always wanted to see how people in other cities get around.
In this photo, we are at the Profsoyuznaya station. I almost didn’t recognize myself– I looked, thought “oh, this lady has nice hair” and then realized it was… me ?
Another shot of the metro. It has “Volgograd” written on the outside
On our way to Alleya Geroev (Alley of Heros) there was a wonderful little park…
One of my favorite things was this sign. It says “Happiness is here” ?
Another favorite thing was this chubby cat statue– he’s the mascot of the restaurant Shuri Muri. On the plaque behind it says “We work every day from 11am to 11pm without breaks or days off”… But they were closed for repairs ?
If you have a chance to visit Volgograd, I highly recommend walking to the waterfront. Right behind that fountain was the Volga river! Although there are freezing cold winds, it was absolutely gorgeous to watch the water and waves
After chilling out near the Volga (geddit?) we spotted a cute cafe named Marusya. When I walked inside, it was like stepping into a dollhouse! Everything was decorated in white, red, and black with such a cozy feel!
Afterward, we finally made it to our destination! This is the Alley of the Heroes, a pedestrian walkway that honors the soldiers of the Soviet Union. On the left, you can see a replica of the “Hero of the Soviet Union” medal (along with a few others, including Lenin), and the columns in the middle list the 192 heroes who were born in Volgograd.
On a sunny day (AKA: not today), street vendors will sit outside and sell handmade goodies and portraits.
Towards the end of the alley is another war monument, The Eternal Flame. Fun fact: there is more than one! The other flame is located near Mamaev Kurgan, but more on that later…
A cute and colorful church on the way back to the metro :)
Right near the church was this trolley. It wasn’t working, but you could pose and take photos next to it!
That’s it for the first part, but stay tuned for Part 2 & 3 in a few days! There’s a ton more interesting things to see! :)