The land of the forbidden smile! Before leaving on my trip, I wanted to call my article Bon baiser de Russie, like the James Bond movie, but while reading the backpacker’s guide, I thought, this is it, I’m embarking on a funny adventure again. The backpacker’s guide talked about Russians as people who don’t smile at all and if you give them a friendly smile, they might even misinterpret that gesture and think you’re making fun of them, I also read in the same guide that they don’t like people with dark skin color, so during my July holidays, I had planned a week’s holiday at the sea, I avoided swimming altogether so as not to get a tan, and this so as not to be turned back at the Russian border before saying vzdrognеm. On D-Day at Saint-Exupéry airport on my way to Moscow and after checking in my luggage, I went to buy a few things to snack on while waiting for boarding, that day there were a lot of people, to go to the checkout and pay for my purchases I had to queue. In the queue there was a man queuing next to me with sweets in his hands, his wife was outside the queue and was waiting for the sweets with her daughter sitting in a stroller, the little girl was holding out her arms to ask for sweets, his wife, she told him that now that she had seen the sweets she should give them to him, he on the other hand refused and said looking at me, wait I pay first, I don’t want to be in prison, not for sweets anyway. When I saw this little girl in her stroller asking for what she thought she was entitled to, I felt a little obliged to play the role of an advocate and I told her that it was safe to give them the candies, however you have to keep the packaging to pay at the cash register, I even told her that sometimes when I’m thirsty, I take a small bottle of water from the shelf, drink the contents and give the cash register the empty bottle to pay for it. He was the kind of person who likes to chat with everyone, and I was the first one to start, he noticed that I had a winter jacket hanging from my backpack, he told me that he was going to Israel to go home and asked me where I was going with my jacket, I told him that I was going on a trip to Moscow, he told me ah you are lucky, it seems that in Russia women are the most beautiful in the world. I always made my wife believe that she was the most beautiful in the world, which is absolutely true. I told him to be a little more discreet, because she was at the cash register and she too was waiting for her sweets, she could hear him, and it could be very risky for him to start this kind of discussion since he didn’t know my wife, he told me that he didn’t care because he had never seen someone leaving the restaurant with his sandwich in his hand. I admit that he had repartee and a lot of spontaneity, I love Jewish humor. But when you think about it, it makes us who we really are, people who are afraid of the unknown, of the cold in the middle of summer, others of racism and others who also believe that the grass is greener elsewhere. I admit that it is also because of Uncle Sam, we have always been afraid that the Russians will invade us and turn us into communists, let us imagine tomorrow Europe looking like the two Germans during the Cold War.
I don’t know how it is for Russians going to France but the price of a visa at a little more than one hundred and sixteen euros per person is too expensive, you can imagine it is eight thousand six hundred rubles, a tenth of a month’s average Russian salary, to give you an idea, a taxi ride from downtown Moscow to the airport which is more than forty-five kilometers away is about two thousand rubles. So listen to me Vladimir, it’s totally unfair to inflict such a price on tourists who love Russia and especially when this injustice comes from a former communist country, all this so that I get my passport stamped on arrival and departure, and above all remember my little Vlad, we’re going to your place to spend money, so be nice and don’t take all our money before we get there, you understand? Two things, either I won’t get another visa to go to St. Petersburg one day or he sends me a free visa. On arriving at the airport of Moscow and despite the late hour, the airport was very busy and above all very clean, the time to pass passport controls, where the policeman was staring at me to make sure that it is me and that the passport he has in his hand is really mine, then he looks at the visa with a wolf to check if I do not present false documents, he is right, at the price that it costs a visa, one could be tempted. It went well and here we are quickly in front of our luggage, and there were no other checks, we go out and buy two Sim cards for two weeks in unlimited, it’s worth four euros per person. I turn on my phone to order a taxi on an app I’d downloaded before I left. After a few days of practice on two taxi booking software I ontinued only with Yandex Taxi because I loved its simplicity and because it is far superior to Uber’s, experience the why and the how. In Moscow, we can say that public transportation is almost free, since the cost of a ticket per person, in unlimited, that is to say using the metro, bus, and tram is five euros for three days, while in our country it is the price for one trip. As far as the taxi is concerned, it’s great, at the end of the day when we didn’t have the strength to look for a subway station we always found a taxi that would locate our position and take us back to our hotel for three to four euros. J’avais toujours honte, de payer une prestation aussi peu chère, alors j’ajoutais cent roubles de plus parce car j’estimais que le service rendu était largement supérieur au prix demandé, je peux vous dire que rien que pour ça j’ai adoré Moscou, les prestations étaient connues à l’avance, et il n’y avait pas des triches. Les gens qui sont déjà allés visiter la ville de Moscou savent bien qu’il faut utiliser le métro, pas pour se déplacer en ville uniquement, mais également pour admirer l’architecture et la beauté de ses stations, je ne vais pas vous en dire plus, parce que j’ai envie que vous y alliez pour constater par vous-même. If I try to describe the beauty of the city of Moscow I can’t find words or adjectives, all descriptions are only superlatives. The name of the city of Moscow is borrowed from the name of the river that crosses it, it is a sub-tributary of the Volga, we don’t say Moscow but rather Москва and it is pronounced Moskva. According to Wikipedia, the no of the red square comes neither from the color of the surrounding red bricks nor from the link between this color and communism. A more exact translation of its Russian name would be the “Beautiful Square”: in ancient Russian krasny (красный/-ая) means both red and beautiful and should be understood here in the latter sense, today archaic (beautiful becomes krassivy (ая/-ая) in modern Russian. The adjective was first applied to the Basilica of Basil the Blessed, the square itself being then called Pojar (in Russian of fire) until the XVIIth century, in reference to the fact that its creation was the result of the fire that devastated Moscow in 1943, Ivan III then decided to prevent any new fire to destroy the numerous wooden constructions located on what was going to become the Red Square. Several former Russian cities, such as Suzdal, Ielet, Pereslavl-Zalessky, also have their “Red Square”.
The Kremlin (in Russian: кремль, kreml) is a complex of fortifications of cities of ancient Russia. The kremlins, housing at the same time military infrastructures, centres of power and places of worship, had a defensive, spiritual and political dimension. The ancient cities each had their own kremlin (fortress), such as that of Novgorod or Kazan. The one in Москва has become the political centre of the Russian Federation, since it is now the official residence and workplace of the President of the Federation, the office of my tovarishch Vlad.
The Russian language is written with the Cyrillic alphabet, Cyril who worked with his brother Methodius to create the alphabet we know today, they were inspired by the ancient Greco-Roman script to create the bicameral style, as a general rule, I get by quickly with foreign languages, but this was not the case with the Russian language, for me it is more difficult than Japanese.
So to answer the question: are Russian women the most beautiful women in the world? I would say yes and no, yes because all women are beautiful and in every country I have visited I have found that women have a lot of charm, different charms from one country to another, certainly, but that is what makes them beautiful. No, because I have also found ugly ones among young women who put products to inflate their lips, in profile they look like they have a duck’s beak, I have noticed this phenomenon in other countries and unfortunately it is not only a local practice.
Are Russians racist? I sincerely cannot answer that question, because when you look at the rise of extremism in Europe you cannot lecture others and personally I have never felt racism, those who do not appreciate me are necessarily right, I leave them and I go on my way to meet people who appreciate me for who I am, so it is because I have always looked ahead, without meddling too much in the rest. But if I had to judge people’s behavior towards me when I entered a restaurant or a shop or a theater, I was always well received, and as it should be, and sincerely sometimes, I’d rather be told I don’t like your face, than to give me a big smile and kiss me from behind.
If you take away the Chinese tourists and those from the Middle East, there aren’t many European tourists in Moskva, and it’s a real shame, to go there it’s less than three hours by plane, it’s a modern country that has succeeded in its conversion to capitalist traditions. One of the most popular restaurants is the KFC restaurant, there are restaurants everywhere and on every street corner, young people are particularly attracted, why wouldn’t I tell you. In the city there are no noise restrictions, we see these big-engine cars racing once the traffic light is green, at least they can afford it, because the price of diesel is fifty cents.
While I was on a trip to Moscow, I learned some very sad news, personally I wouldn’t call it sad because it all depends on how you look at it. Someone very dear to me went on a trip far away and at the same time as us, but it is the kind of trip where you don’t have to take a toilet bag, the kind of trip where your car is parked in an underground car park, as for your suitcase, it doesn’t weigh much as it doesn’t contain any more than the clothes you are wearing on you that day, it’s the kind of destination where everybody feels really good and happy that they don’t want to come back, it’s the kind of trip where you don’t need a ticket because you’re flying on your own, and it’s the kind of destination that good people do and that everybody will do someday, so I say goodbye and see you soon.
No trip is sad, on the contrary, it’s always an opportunity to meet new people and make discoveries, to see new horizons and new cultures. In short, I didn’t want to cry but I did it discreetly because there is no hope of a possible return from such a trip. Since we are talking about culture in Moscow I did not have the opportunity to attend a performance at the Bolshoi Theatre because it was closed for the holidays, and just for that I have to go back to Moscow. However I was able to attend the fireworks festival where France was represented, I recorded some videos that you can see at the end of my article. I was also able to attend a Russian ballet show by the company Kostroma. Click here to watch an excerpt and hope it makes you want to go and see for yourself.
Food! For a country as big as Russia, it is so big that when the sun sets in the west it rises at the same time in the east with such a different climate, from the cold of Siberia in the north to the Dead Sea in the south, with such different people that it is really very easy to distinguish the ethnic groups, from the Afghan style through the Chinese, Mongolian, Ukrainian, Georgian style to finish with the Caucasian style, that is to say European. One point I forgot is that you can’t be racist when you are a multi-ethnic country, but as for food, it’s also a firework of tastes and flavors that you absolutely have to discover.
How could I get to this point, I cannot finish my article like this, I could not find a flaw in those who are referred to as the enemies of the west, who have weapons and missiles pointed at us and who want to destroy us, I think that the only person who is destroying us today is the image they give of us. I think that today we are living on the basis of our achievements and on credit, and the day we wake up, if we wake up one day, which is not certain, that day, the awakening will be really painful, because all these countries we denigrate are in a phase of overtaking us and that day we will have a hangover and the head of an idiot.
I’ll leave you with a big kiss.
Sorry I can’t find an extension to download the videos for you. I can email it to you if you want with WeTransfer.