The famed Russian summer houses are still mostly modest cottages with a small plot of cultivable land and are popular amongst the nation’s urbanites, who travel to them for weekends or longer retaining their passion for country living, relaxing and gardening. With Russia having a relatively low rate of urbanisation the villages include many permanent residents as well and they too live mostly in cottages. We’ve found as we’ve traversed the country that while there is encroachment of modern housing into the dacha space, it remains largely unpainted wooden, single story cottages in various states of repair.
Dachas are Russia. While they were common in Tsarist times, had a turbulent period during the Soviet era, they are as strong as ever nowadays as the Russians lust for the country life – deeply rooted in their tradition, remains incredibly strong. The traffic jams out of the cities every Friday have been one testimony to that enthusiasm that we’ve encountered, another is the lines of roadside stalls of people selling strawberries and other summer delights from their plots. It has not been uncommon at all – as we’ve ridden around the environs of Lake Baikal – to see lines of modern SUVs including Lexus and BMW M5’s with hatches open and the occupant selling a bounty of summer veges. It’s more a tradition than an economic necessity – and certainly it’s a social scene when sellers by the dozen congregate to ply their wares.