I’ve always wanted to visit Russia. So when I had the chance this year, I jumped at it. I visited Sakhalin, an island on the Far East of Russia, closer to the South Korea and Japan than it is to the nation’s capital, Moscow.

I spent more time in the office than I did outside, unfortunately, but here are a few observations and photos from my quick visit to this fascinating country (all photos taken on my iPhone).

I was surprised to find that Russian food was absolutely delicious. Particularly in Sakhalin, where seafood abounds: I chowed down on prawns the size of my palm, scallops the same size, bread filled with cheese and fried, cheese platters, freshly baked pastries and cakes, and delicious vegetable salads.

 

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My colleagues taught me how to drink vodka properly, and we threw back a few glasses accompanied by pickled vegetables. I went through the rituals associated with the drink, clinking glasses lastly with “a man who is not my own” and making sure I didn’t put my glass down on the table before I drank – that would mean a whole new round of cheers.

 

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Restaurants were interesting, with some quite kitschy decorations to brighten them up.

 

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A wander around the capital of Sakhalin, Yuzhno, revealed Communist era-style buildings, concrete, crumbling blocks, alongside beautifully decorated churches.

 

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There were some interesting displays of art to be found around the streets.

 

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A colleague kindly gave up his Saturday to take me out of town to visit the seaside. The weather was a bit brisk, but it was lovely to sip tea out of a thermos while gazing out over the lightly crashing waves.

 

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Driving back to the hotel, we passed people alongside the road selling mushrooms and other vegetables.

 

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Along with more street art, depicting the country’s volatile history.

 

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My visit to Russia was much too quick. I have to go back again soon – there’s so much more to see: Moscow, St Petersburg, the Trans Siberian Railway.

Plus I need to find out more about dog weddings! 🙂

 

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