SAINT PETERSBURG: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ALEXANDER PUSHKIN
by Tatiana Claudy
“Pushkin was our everything," declared Apollon Grigoryev (Russian poet). “Pushkin represented everything that is spiritual and warm about us." 1 Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin was the great Russian poet of the 19th century whose poems marked Golden Age of Russian poetry. Even today his verses are so well-known that many Russians easily quote them by heart.
SAINT PETERSBURG: THE WINDOW TO EUROPE
by Tatiana Claudy
“Saint Petersburg is a window through which Russia looks at Europe,” stated Francesco Algarotti, a Venetian poet.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky called this city “the most intentional town” because Peter the Great, the Russian monarch, ordered it to be built on a swampy terrain in the delta of the Neva River to guard Russia from its adversaries – Swedish King Karl XII and his mighty navy.  The time will come when for its richness, splendor, and sophistication the city will be called “the Northern Palmyra,” and numerous visitors will admire grandeur of the capital of the Russian Empire. Yet sometimes the city’s first buildings, constructed the 18th century, are overshadowed by more magnificent palaces of the 19th century. Today I am going to visit these first buildings – the architectural marvels and silent witnesses of the early history of the city.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF DOSTOYEVSKY
St. Petersburg, Russia
by Tatiana Claudy
“The most theoretical and intentional town on the whole terrestrial globe,” wrote Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky about St. Petersburg, Russia, where he lived for about 30 years and had written his most famous novel, Crime and Punishment.  Despite his dislike of the city, he became the symbol of literary St. Petersburg and created his own city, “Dostoyevsky’s Petersburg,” occupied by characters of his novels and novellas.
THE CAUCASIAN BIOSPHERE RESERVE
Sochi, Russia - by Mara Baudais
Thunder, then lightning flashed above the forest. Light rain fell, then more. My group, all passengers from my ship that had docked at Sochi, had quickly scampered ahead at the first crack of thunder. Somehow, suddenly it had happened…I was on my own, on increasingly slippery granite, limestone steps, roots and uneven chunks of clay.
RIVIERA PARK: THE OLDEST PARK IN SOCHI
Russia - by Mara Baudais
It was a simple restful time with local Russian folk and I felt renewed as others before me had probably also felt. And above all, I felt I had set foot in Russia, the homeland of my great grand-parents. Designed in l898 this park was originally established for the pleasure of Russia’s Tsars who would enjoy extended vacations in Sochi. The subtropical climate of Sochi, on the Black Sea, is the furthest area south in Russia.
PAYING RESPECT TO VLADIMIR LENIN,THE FATHER OF RUSSIAN COMMUNISM
Moscow, Russia - by Adam Bennett
As I stared into the thick bulletproof glass separating me from the legendary dogmatic Russian leader I was surprised to see he was still looking his best. During the first few weeks after his death in 1924 Lenin was embalmed and set on display in Red Square. This enabled over ¾ million Russian citizens to pay their respects.
FISHING IN KARELIA
It depends on the person. Karelia is not sunny and friendly most of the days. It can be rather rigorous and austere. Nevertheless it recharges you with vital energy, makes one strive for life, be grateful for small favors made by nature and notice sun even during rainy days.
ON A SPECIAL QUEST
When my husband and I first flew into Karaganda, Kazakhstan, the first thing I noticed was the smell. The warm breezes blowing in from the vast Kazakh steppe and over the tarmac smelled almost like the air of my family's farm, located half way around the world in the high mountain deserts of Utah.
A PLACE THAT DOES NOT EXIST
I started walking back across the Inguri River Bridge, which separates the post-Soviet Republic of Georgia from what once used to be a prime tourist destination in the former USSR, Abkhazia. The bridge’s halfway point boasts a statue of a gun with a twisted barrel ... I could hardly think of a more ironic place for housing this embodiment of peace.
WHERE HISTORY STARTS
For me (and for the majority of tourists) Moscow is a big Russian city with lots of business centers and sightseeing among which were the Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Kremlin and other famous places. But frankly speaking, if you want to get to know the capital of Russia it is not enough to visit only these “standard sightseeing” places.
TAMADA THE TOASTMASTER, PATRIARCH OF TRADITIONAL GEORGIAN FEASTING
Republic of Georgia
The tamada is not a mere ‘toastmaster’. He is the collective soul of the Georgian people. He is warm and welcoming, a proud father and a dedicated son, a patriot, and an admirer of women. He is an incurable romantic, deeply nostalgic, and he has a kind word for everyone. There is not a feast too informal for him to attend. If there is wine – and there always is – there is a tamada.
CHANGING THE ARTISTIC FACE OF MOSCOW
Sculptor Zurab Tsereteli
Moscow has its own chief sculptor who has changed the architectural layout of the Russian capital. His name is Zurab Tsereteli. Whether or not he has made Moscow more beautiful only spoilt it are heated debates that will last for ever.