Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Friday's Interview: Baira in Moscow

I chat to our Tripbod in Moscow, Baira, regularly on Skype. This time I decided to ask her a few questions about visiting Moscow in the summer. Such great images of walking around Moscow, day trips to see the Russian countryside and exploring the real Russia. She also gave me a great insight in to the religious and cultural mix that makes Moscow such a special place to visit. She has the typical voice of a Tripbod - so passionate about the genuine, authentic side of life in Moscow.

Dot Pinkney: ok, so 1st question, would you recommend Moscow to independent travellers?

Baira: Sure, Moscow is a very unique city with amazing and complex history and a bustling mix of diverse cultures. This is truly the city where east meets west both in geographical, cultural, and religious respects

Dot Pinkney: what are the main cultures that come together in Moscow?

Baira: I also think that it's very important to travel in Moscow independently from touristic guidelines which cover mainstream attractions only

Dot Pinkney: what kind of mainstream attractions would you recommend to stay away from?

Baira: so sorry, my computer got a virus i guess

Baira: it switches off every 20 min

Dot Pinkney: oh no :(

Baira: so i need to be quick :)

Dot Pinkney: cool cool, so last question was 'what mainstream attractions would you recommend to stay away from?'

Baira: I guess Russian mixture of cultures can be described as a layer cake where the layers interconnect on mix with each other. The lowest level (the basis) is Slavic Russian culture. The main characteristics of which are orthodox religion, mentality of being the linking unit between west and east and at the same time the mixture of both east and west.

Baira: Plus due to the long historical relations with central Asian (Mongolian) and tartar Muslim cultures a number of Russian republics which comprise Russian federation are Muslim and Buddhist.

Baira: Besides, there are some autonomous regions which are populated by Greeks, Jews, Turkish and Finn nationalities.

Dot Pinkney: is orthodox religion still strong in Russia, or Moscow?

Baira: Yes, Orthodox religion is still quite strong in Russia. Despite recent communist atheist past Russians managed to revive their religiosity which was rooted about 13 centuries ago

Baira: So most of the older population are quite religious as well as many of those who are 40-50

Baira: Younger generation brought up with pop culture, freedom, and indifference caused by chaotic 90s is non-religious

Dot Pinkney: Is Moscow very different from the rest of Russia would you say?

Baira: Many Russians say that Moscow and rest of the Russia are different cultures.

Baira: = are different countries

Baira: Moscow is way more expensive and way more independent politically, economically, and informationally than the rest of the country

Dot Pinkney: Ok, so tell me what Russian people like to do at the weekends at this time of year...

Baira: well quite many people prefer going to the parks and residents like Tsaritsyno or Kolomenskoe with their families and friends to have a rest from hustle and noisy traffic.

Baira: the others go swimming/hiking/cycling..etc

Baira: some like to spend their weekends at night clubs mostly or numerous bars

Dot Pinkney: where can you go swimming near Moscow?

Baira: There are some small lakes and forests near the city like Serebryanyj Bor where people make barbeques and can swim

Baira: but they all have sth in common - Russians try to get the full advantage of summer and enjoy the sun and warm weather

Dot Pinkney: Can you experience true Russian countryside in a day trip from Moscow?

Baira: Sure, just take a short train (called elektrichka) to one of the ancient cities of Golden Ring like Vladimir or Yaroslavl which are incredibly beautiful and at the same time or have all the features of being really Russian: small wooden houses, slow pace, tiny orthodox temples

Baira: and very little traffic :)

Dot Pinkney: Is it dangerous for foreigners travelling outside of Moscow?

Baira: well if you take a short train to one of the cities of Golden Ring or St Petersburgh or other cities of up to 6 hours of travel it's quite safe I think

Baira: It can be risky to travel alone by TransSiberian train in the communal wagons where all people are located without doors and section divisions

Dot Pinkney: well I could go on asking you questions but it’s late in Moscow so I should let you sleep! I hope we can talk more and more about travelling in Moscow at our online seminar, which will be hopefully next week

Baira: superb :)

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