Destination Russia. A ship and a cat in the tundra and other extra-ordinary encounters
Written by Roberta Melchiorre and Fabio Bertino
If you have never been to Russia, I guess you imagine it as a country of blonde, blue-eyed people, limitless birch forests, orthodox churches with onion domes and Slavic language. During our first visit to Moscow and Petersburg we felt the same way while visiting the wonderful sights like the Red Square, the Kremlin, the Nevsky Prospect or the Neva River canals. Fortunately for us, we couldn’t resist the temptation to move further. We went up North all the way to the Arctic Sea and further East to the endless Siberia, where we got to discover this extraordinary diverse country.
We met dozens of different ethnic groups, from Arctic populations of the far North to the Mongolian people of southern Siberia; from the Caucasians to the people of Turkish origin. We saw a kaleidoscope of natural environments, from the Arctic Tundra to the Taiga, from the Kalmykia desert to the black lands of Tuva. We discovered a mosaic of religions, from Christianity to Islam, from Buddhism to Shamanism. Russia is a limitless and multifaceted country that one can never fully discover. It’s a place with countless possibilities for encounters. To us, that’s the most fascinating part of traveling.
After several journeys to Russia, we decided to transform our diverse experiences into a book. That’s how ‘Destination Russia. A ship and a cat in the tundra and other extra-ordinary encounters’ was born. There are two main characters of the book. One of them is Russia itself with all its vastness. The other one are the numerous encounters we had, just like the title suggests. Some of them were ordinary, others very special. All of them unforgettable!
Through the pages of the book you will be invited to travel with us. You’ll get to meet Ljudmilla Ivanovna, Andrej Vladimirovich and other passengers of our coach on the mythical Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladivostok. You will reach the faraway Solovki archipelago on the White Sea with Vera, her son Mikhail and other orthodox pilgrims. You will meet Katjusa, a cat in the Tundra. You’ll have a traditional Russian dinner with three generations of Muscovite family.
You will also meet Ai-Tchourek “moonheart”, a shaman of the Republic of Tuva who read our future in the Kuvanaak stones. You will participate in the annual gathering of the Nenets (Arctic reindeer breeders) in Salekhard, where you’ll have the chance to chat with an elderly Yashik. You’ll enjoy the majestic Baikal Lake, “the sacred sea” and Siberian gem with our Buriat friend Nelly. And perhaps it will also happen to you just like it did to us: you’ll feel the urge to keep coming back to the world’s biggest country to discover what still lies beyond that last horizon.
You can buy the book here: