We are out of Russia and looking back I have managed to change some of my preconceived ideas of this huge place.
They are a generous and wonderful people and a country that you feel very safe in as a woman traveller. We have been directed across towns and and had folk turn up with English teachers and speakers to see if we need any help.
I made a couple of faux pas (not like me). When a bottle of bubbley was popped loudly beside me I shouted “Here come the russians”. Now where does this old saying come from.
Also when we were trying to get something to put on the bread after we had given up on butter I tried the words jam and then preserves. The waitress gave a horror look and I remembered that the word preservative in russian means condom, so I dread to think what she thinks of Kiwi travellers.
It is a country of harsh extremes and huge forests, mega acres of sunflowers and wheat, deserts and archetecturally amazing cities. We swum in the rivers and seas with locals who were all shapes and sizes and flaunting it all in micro bikinis and budgie smuglers.
Sure there are issues like the police road stops and the attempts to get a bit of cash out of passers-by, but we achieved an amazing no bribes paid trip.
Not paying up probably cost us a few hours at the Russian/ Ukraine ferry border as they bumped us off the boat in favour of some mates. This border crosssing involved a 20 min ferry ride that went every 3 hours, a horror day in 40 degree heat.