Ask anyone about Russia and the first few words that come to their mind is usually vodka, the largest country, military, snow, Red Square and St. Petersburg. But the real beauty of Russia can only be experienced in the winters when it is a bit like stepping inside a snow globe. Our expedition officially began in Moscow, where all the participants gathered for an unforgettable and icy cold experience. After a full day of sightseeing, we got together for an authentic Russian style dinner with folk music.
The next day, we were introduced to the UAZ Patriot Vehicles, our home for the coming 10 days. We pulled out of Moscow, and after driving for a few hours on icy fields, we reached Sergiev Posad, also known as the “Russian Vatican”. Here, we visited Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, which is one of the most famous Russian monasteries and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church.
While driving through several towns of the famous Russian Golden Ring, the only thing that accompanied our convoy for long was the snow-covered pine trees. En route, a tree had toppled over the road due to heavy snowfall. The whole group stepped out of their SUVs and cut the tree with an axe to clear the route. And just when we thought that we had enough adventure for the day, it started to snow, covering the roads almost knee-deep. The whole experience made for a great team-building exercise. Some helped with clearing the snow, while the rest used the pull-push and front-back technique to clear the cars. Later in the evening, we reached our resort in Koprino, where we had many fun activities in the snow to look forward to. We did snow-tubing, ice fishing, cross country skiing, rode a snowmobile and went for a joy ride on the frozen lake in a hovercraft.
The following day we got back on the road and headed towards Vologda where we got a first-hand experience of local traditions, rich history andculture. After resting overnight, we drove 450 kilometres towards Tikhvin. En route, we admired the vast expanses of the Russian land, old wooden houses and the villagers who have chosen a simple measured life. Our happy souls but tired bodies got some free time in Karjala Park on a rest day when local musicians taught us a few rhythms to play with everyday tools used as instruments. This was followed by an afternoon when we got in a dog sledge pulled by at least eight Siberian Huskies as we sped past the snow-covered pine forests in an adrenalin rush ride.
Our winter drive in Russia concluded in St. Petersburg, which is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This trip was a memory in more ways than one. Past 11 days were an experience about which we will be talking about for the rest of our lives. Dasvidaniya Russia!