Мечта: The Quest to Live the Dreams (Part -2)

Telstar Мечта: The FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Official Match Ball (Courtesy: FIFA)

Dream is not that you see in sleep. Dream is something that does not let you sleep

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India

The previous blog post tells about the context, the significance of dream and traveling as one of the vehicles to achieve the dream and gain experiences.

This blog post will get into a little more specifics. How that dream didn’t let me sleep.


Searching for a suitable venue for achieving the dreams of exploration in about 194 countries is a tedious job, which might even take a lifetime. Hence, filtering the choices for the time being becomes important.

Given (or made) the choice, I prefer traveling to colder places, since I love that weather. I have also been to the Icy Mountains of the Himalayas many a times. Widening the scope was needed this time – both in terms of the coldest temperature experienced and some colder place away from the Himalayas.

Spending my birthday twice in the hot weather of Trichy (2016 and 2017) and the possibility of spending the next one in another hot city called Mumbai made me work towards the actual implementation of my thoughts. 2018 seemed to be the nearest choice post completion of my MBA during March 2018, and a pretty obvious one, because of the fact that I would be entering the third decade of my life during December 2018. It had to be legendary.

ZEROing in

Cold. December. Birthday.

What choices do we have? Lets have a look at the countries beyond the Arctic circle.

Common sense tells us that we have the following choice of beautiful countries or regions satisfying the above criterion: USA (Alaska), Canada, Scandinavia, Russia.

The first three are pretty expensive without doubt, the last one “seems” closed and “unfriendly” (a common and unfortunate stereotype)

A bit of web based research did shed some truth to the above statement. Indeed, several places in Russia lying in the Asian or Siberian region are closed for foreigners, and visitors need special permits to visit such places. One more option seemed to slip away.

But then I thought, why not Russia? Why not the European Russia, which is not closed? Why not try, examine and if possible, eradicate such a stereotype?

Russia hosted the greatest sports extravaganza on Earth – the FIFA World Cup, a little while ago. This fact in itself is enough to dispel a lot of myths and stereotypes prevalent. I also had a dream from childhood to pay a visit to the “Towers of Candy” – St. Basil Cathedral, which is perhaps as closely associated icon or visualization of Russia, as is the Taj Mahal for India.

St. Basil Cathedral, Moscow. Perhaps this is the image which comes to one’s mind when one thinks of Russia 
akin to the Taj Mahal of India

The venue was fixed: Russia

It goes without saying that many would be concerned about Russian winters, perhaps because of this:

Caption of Finland Tourism (Courtesy: DailyMail)

Perhaps the people showing concerns are partially right: Russia is going to be quite cold. The temperatures will undoubtedly be towards the South of ZERO degree Celsius as we move further North.
And that is a reason convincing enough for me to go: Russia is going to be quite cold during winter. Hence, zeroing in on Russia becomes quite obvious.


The first and foremost task on the quest for such dreams is to get a visa.

Cutting the long story short, I applied well in advance for the same, to avoid the possibility of hassles due to last minute delays or rejection. The efforts of the staff at IFS Visa Centre, Mumbai and the Russian Consulate in Mumbai are quite commendable. The entire process of getting information about the pre-requisites, the visa interviews, and the eventual issuing of the visa – all the processes were carried out in a smooth, unambiguous and hassle free manner. One myth already busted.

The country was selected, but did we select the exact cities to travel? And we are looking at the largest country on Earth.

As mentioned, I had to travel to places lying beyond the Arctic Circle in Russia, to try to maximize the chilling effect of Winter. And quite logically, I had to spend my Birthday in that area.

A limited knowledge of geography will reveal Murmansk as the logical choice over here.

The city of Murmansk is quite well connected by road, rail, air and even water. It is the largest city to the North of the Arctic Circle.

Arctic Region would thus guarantee the following unique experiences during the Month of December:

  • Polar Night: A period of no sunrise and almost total darkness for nearly 20 hours per day
  • Spectacular views of the Arctic Tundra in full glory
  • Harsh cold weather with perpetual sub-zero temperatures
  • Permafrost with lots of Ice and Snow

Moreover, if I am coming to Murmansk and spending about 48 hours there (including my Birthday), then why not go nearby to see the Arctic Ocean too? Thus, another place called Teriberka must be included in the itinerary as a part of a day trip.

But is that enough? For me, that is definitely enough to experience during this Birthday.

Of course, to reach Murmansk, I have to take a train from Moscow. That is not because the flight is expensive (rather, the flight is usually cheaper). The train will offer me a raw deal of exploring the icy dream landscape of this part of Europe with breathtaking scenes of the landscape, as well as a good opportunity for increased people to people connect. Definitely, this deal is too good to refuse.

(Let me illustrate the details of “Getting around” in Russia in the next blog post. For now, let the dream run continue)

Thus, a focused and limited itinerary comprising of Moscow, Murmansk, Teriberka and Saint Petersburg were finalized. Needless to say, I would be celebrating my Birthday in Murmansk and Teriberka.

The Itinerary: Moscow, Murmansk, Teriberka, St. Petersburg. Stretching from the Atlantic to the Arctic Coast

Let the Dreams begin..

December 2, 2018: The Towers of Candy

A perfect fairytale arrival in this fairytale dreamland.

The White Icy “Dreamscape” of Moscow shining at night appeared out of the clouds as our flight was on its was descending towards the Sheremeteyevo International Airport, Moscow. Little hexagonal snowflakes meandering in the air welcomed me upon landing.

A perfect welcome in a moderately cold weather (-8 deg. C) with white icy carpets being rolled out by nature.

More surprises awaited me during my trip. And why not?

Did I ever in my wildest dreams expect Metro Stations, deep underground, to resemble more to Palaces having intricate sculptures and artworks, and not remotely resemble any bustling metro station? Honestly, the answer is no. Beauty and finesse seem to be the Russian Standard norms for Architecture.

A scene outside my hotel in Aviamotornaya, Moscow

This day was mainly spent in immigration, hotel search and photography at leisure, getting lost many a times, and most importantly, fulfilling a childhood dream – a visit to the “Towers of Candy”.

The iconic St. Basil Cathedral in Moscow. 
An unmissable icon of Russia

It feels like experiencing Magical Realism when you see your dreams materializing in front of your eyes, and you remain awestruck, as if trying to reconfirm whether all this is real or not?

I did expect St Basil Cathedral to be vibrant and beautiful, and the actual views of the same does appear to be far better and more vivid than all the pictures seen virtually. The height of the day was the “ice”ing on the “candies”, and in no way am I complaining.

Equestrian statue of Marshal Gregory Zukhov, credited with leading the Russian Army to decisive victories in Moscow, Stalingrad and Berlin against Nazi  Germany in World War – II

The day ended with a memorable trip to Kremlin and the adjoining areas and coursing through the labyrinthine Moscow Metro, where stations looked more like palaces with elegant sculptures than a places of public commute.

It was time to leave the bustling Metropolis of Moscow and venture Northwards towards the land of frosty enigma – the land of the Arctic Zone.

Time to leave Moscow as of now. A glimpse of Leningradsky Railway Station in Moscow

December 3, 2018: The Fairytale Journey to the Polar Zone

Despite the availability of cheaper and direct flights from Moscow to Murmansk, I opted for the train journey coursing through the vast expanse of ice and snow and offering visuals worth cherishing for an entire lifetime.

The images of ice, snow, cold and St Basil Cathedral crop up in our mind whenever one mentions about Russia. Well, the association of Russia with such images is true to a large extent. However, one might as well miss out adding some well deserved adjectives to Russia, in addition to ice and snow. Those adjectives are: beautiful, mesmerizing, magical.

Waking up to the views of little snowflakes meandering in the air and greeting me outside the glass of my coupe's window as if to display their beautiful hexagonal designs impeccably carved out with absolute scientific and aesthetic precision - something which words fail to describe.

Changing my focus from these intricacies at micro level offered me views of the magic at macro level. The background showed me rivers of Ice. Solid Ice. Meandering through coniferous forests, themselves sporting snow covered caps. What else is needed to start a morning with (ofcourse, in addition to sipping a cup of Russian coffee in another intricately designed glassware). Is intricate beauty with perfect scientific precision an inseparable part of the Russian culture? One has to agree wholeheartedly.

Magical View from the train: The River Volkhov, as seen here, lies completely frozen

Now, a small walk through the “corridor”, maybe?

The corridor outside my coupe in the railway coach

Rest of the day was spent lazily strolling across the corridor, sleeping, photography, reading some books and having food.

December 4-5, 2018: The Heart of the Icy Dreamland – the Arctic Zone and a priceless Birthday Experience of a Lifetime

Landed in Murmansk on this date. The excitement to finally cross the Arctic Circle and land amidst the fabled “Polar Night” was already in the air.

The sun never rose during the entire duration of the Polar Nights in Murmansk, lasting for more than 40 days. A consolation (really?) appeared in the form of a twilight period from about 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM, beyond which, it was night time in literal sense.

Incidentally, December 4 is my birthday eve, which brings me here in Murmansk at the apt point of time, in order to:

  • Get a first hand experience of the Polar Night
  • Getting to celebrate my birthday the way it should be – in a perfect cold and icy dreamland. What more can offer a better experience than the Arctic itself?

The journey to Murmansk also made me see and believe in the presence of Fjords in the Arctic Coast, since such areas have always been under Permafrost, coupled with millennia of glacier led erosion both on the ground level as well as on higher altitudes.

To this end, a trip to Teriberka (about 150 km from Murmansk) became an absolute necessity. Let us add more icing on the cake when it would come to celebrating my birthday, worth remembering for a lifetime.

Hence, started the arduous journey to the Arctic coastal settlement of Teriberka, in the Polar Night. Any signs of lethargy or tiredness quickly withered away to pave the way for a journey worth cherishing.

The journey to Teriberka is altogether a surreal experience in itself. It involved some priceless experiences (the moment made the exhilaration shoot up to an entirely different level), which words can never describe even remotely.

I had an unforgettable experience of the real Arctic Tundra region. One can easily see the vegetation or forests gradually reducing as we go deeper into the Tundra, eventually reducing to a few stray shrubs amidst the vast expanse of icy white nothingness.

The travel on the icy roads also gave me an opportunity to experience the “Russian Drift”, caused due to the unavoidable skidding of the vehicle (CAUTION: Please DO NOT try this ever due to safety concerns). Thankfully, a pure SUV equipped with safety features like ABS, EBD, ESC can do their bit to make the travel safer. I grossly underestimated the hardness and extent of road ice (almost the entire stretch of road was covered with thick ice). No amount of force from my side could make it yield or crack, even by a tiny bit.

Now coming to experiencing the unexpected in and around Teriberka, during the Moments of my Birthday.

Surprise 1:

Before reaching Murmansk, I had zilch expectation of getting to see a Fjord in Russia. Obviously, Russia is not famous for Fjords – the more famous country for fjords is Norway, lying just around 220 km west of Murmansk. A high dose of surprise awaited me from my hotel room in Radisson Park Inn Hotel, which itself overlooks a gigantic fjord called the Murmansk Fjord.

A view of the Murmansk Fjord from my hotel room

Picturesque Fjords were also seen in Teriberka. However the limitations of the camera and the pitch black conditions of Polar Night prevented me from capturing it digitally.

Surprise 2:

Whenever one mentions the word beach, we usually imagine some serene tropical locale with white sand, clear water, coconut trees, a relaxing atmosphere, sweltering heat, ample amount of sunshine – in short, a location offering total blissful environment to pamper yourself and relax, right?

Well, I found the Arctic Beach in Teriberka to be “almost” the same as the one described above. There were just some “minor” differences:

  • Replace “sweltering hot” temperature with “freezing cold” temperature of the order of -10 to -12 degree Celsius. The strong Polar Winds make the temperature feel even lower
  • There were white sands present in the beach. With solid ice binding binding the sand together. The night conditions prevented me from taking the pictures, but it did look somewhat like this:
A view of the Zayachi Island beach in Saint Petersburg. 
Imagine a beach which is completely frozen from the start till the very end
  • Remove the coconut trees and replace them with a few scattered snow clad conifers and shrubs
  • Remove sunshine. There would be none during the polar nights
  • Add fjords to the beach

To cut the long story short, these sights and scenes and the very moment of my Birthday makes it all the more special and magically beautiful. The location itself is unique, and for most practical purposes, is almost untouched, by virtue of its geography and timing.

Teriberka offered the Best of Many Worlds - beach, ice, tundra, fjord and polar night. One cannot stop himself or herself from falling in love at the sights of the mountains of ice, descending elegantly upon the vast expanse of the clear but unforgiving cold waters of the Arctic Ocean, enjoyed best seated on a swing in the icy beach, and feeling the strong icy Arctic Winds caressing his / her cheek.

But did the night actually remain dark?

Surprise 3 (December 5, 2018): A not so dark night:

Without any doubt, the experiences I had in Teriberka was one of the Best in my lifetime, where magical realism was more of a norm than an exception. I started off towards Murmansk post spending quite some time in Teriberka.

Little did I realize that more moments of surreal beauty were in store for me, in not so distant a future.

As I was moments away from my Birthday (00:00 hours, December 5), I kept staring at the icy road ahead, and sometimes at the starry night, reminiscing the magical moments I have had the pleasure of experiencing so far in my life, with a surge of those occurring during the past few days – looking mindlessly at some odd translucent clouds in the sky. Preparing plans to celebrate my Birthday in the next 24 hours….

Wait, why did those clouds change their shape in just a flash?

Something was odd. I requested the driver to halt the car.

Alighting from the cosy comfort of the car presented me with the rare opportunity of viewing the greatest light show on Earth – the majestic Aurora Borealis..!!

Again, Russia is not that famous for Auroras – its neighbour Norway is. As per peer reports, friends and media, the images of the Auroras have mostly been associated with Norway as the images of St Basil Cathedral have been associated with Russia.

That image just got an addition. The Auroras do find their home in the Russian sky too.

The Auroras are rare. Their sightings depends on a plethora of factors, and complex mathematical models also fail to predict the Auroras quite a lot of times. But what I saw in Teriberka is even rarer.

A mesmerizing blue celestial curtain shone from multiple directions over our head – dancing in the air, changing shapes and even colours at will. Spectacularly vibrant and colourful light shows were put up on display by nature – sometimes orange, green, blue and sometimes a combination of some or all of these colours.

And to add to the “cherry” to this massing “ice”ing on the cake, the clock struck 12 Midnight – It was My Birthday..!!

Stepping into a new decade of my life, beneath the infinite expanse of the star lit sky, with surreal show of ethereal curtains of the Aurora Borealis, shining over the vast icy stretch of the Arctic Tundra in the period of the Polar Nights - is a priceless, magical yet very much real experience which is utterly inexplicable through words.

It felt oddly satisfying to have lived in the moment. The Moment. Where life seems to have come to a full circle. Free from disturbance or chaos, devoid of the monotonicity, isolated, colourful yet white – demolishing the fallacy of the seemingly never ending cycle of eat-sleep-work, emphasizing again and again on the value of priceless experiences in life which no power can ever snatch.

Thus, I celebrated the Moment of my Birthday in the perfect icy dreamscape, the candles replaced by the celestial Auroras, cutting a small cupcake with my Swiss knife.

The only villain in this entire scheme of things is my own miscalculation of camera – I overestimated the power of my mobile phone for capturing low light sky shots. But I guess, it is OK. The memories and images saves in the hard drive of my mind cannot be erased.

December 5, 2018: A Birthday in the Arctic

My Birthday in Murmansk city was spend strolling in the city, having sumptuous meals and clicking pictures of the Arctic cityscape. I was also pleasantly surprised when I was gifted the Birthday cake by the staff of the Park Inn Hotel themselves. Quite an unexpected but sweet gesture.

Out of the surprises thrown by Nature during this period of time, one of them was still missing, which joined the party late in the evening – a heavy snowfall..!! What a perfect way to celebrate..!!

December 6, 2018: The Final myth shattered – pleasantly

Post spending the Birthday of my lifetime so far, I headed towards the Atlantic Coast of none other than St. Petersburg, through train.

Russia seems to suffer from a stereotype of being cold towards the visitors or any person in general. The incident which happened with me in this train shattered this stereotype once and for all.

The train journey till the dinner time was largely uneventful, except the breathtaking sights and scenes of frozen rivers, ice clad forests of “Christmas Trees”, frozen glacial lakes, icy dreamscape etc

I prefer not having much food during a train journey. I had light snacks long back and was reading a book at night when it became too dark to enjoy the scenes outside the train.

Out of the blue, a railway official on duty in the train arrived and handed me a food packet, despite me NOT ordering any. Upon repeated explanations from my side, he still insisted I take it (out of concern) and refused payment for the same. The entire coach was having dinner at that point of time.

Although I never paid much heed to such stereotyping as mentioned in this section above, this incident pleasantly shattered all myths of Russians being “cold” to others, once and for all. Acts of kindness as these by the people of the country truly make the country very very special. I simply refuse to believe that an entire country like Russia can ever display a “cold” behaviour. Russia as a place may be bitterly cold, but Russians as people are warm, helpful and hospitable. 

This was the stellar point of my trip, worth remembering and cherishing more than any other event. Not only I had the rare privilege to spend a great moment of my life in this dreamland of Russia, but also I had the rare privilege of experiencing Russian people's warmth, friendliness and hospitality.

I would advise my readers to just go and visit Russia with an open mind. Don’t let your stereotypes or misconceptions deprive you from getting an experience of a lifetime in Russia – where mesmerizing beauty beyond measure or description lies not only in the landscape, but also in the people’s actions. And it is not just me saying so, even fans who came to Russia for the FIFA World Cup 2018 also say so. Clearly, everyone cannot be wrong about the same thing.

December 7, 2018: Saint Petersburg

After the memorable train journey during the previous day, I arrived in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the most popular tourist destination of Russia, situated along the Atlantic Coast. Due to lack of time, I visited only the Zayachi Island and traveled extensively in that place – saw the frozen beach (again), Fort, Saint Peter and Saint Paul Cathedral. Additionally, had a glimpse of Eastern European archaic urban architecture in St. Petersburg. Needless to say, precision and beauty in the details is a hallmark of Russian way of life.

And, did I say I had an opportunity to get a feel of Russian fine dining in The Flying Dutchman (a floating restaurant build similar to an old explorers’ ship)?

December 8 and 9: Winding things up

Goodbye is never permanent. It implies a promise to meet soon, very soon.

Finally, the time to leave Russia was nearing close.

Early in the morning of December 8, I had an opportunity to get awestruck again – this time due to the Russian High Speed Bullet train called Sapsan (Russian name for Peregrine Falcon bird). Although capable of achieving speeds much higher, I experienced a strangely smooth and highly comfortable journey at speed of about 230 kmph. Hope to shatter this record too in Russia one fine day.

I reached Moscow from Saint Petersburg this day. This time, in Moscow, I made it a point to extensively travel through all the known forms of public transport – bus, metro, light rail, tram and monorail.

The Russian winters never fail to spring up newer sights and scenes to make one fall in love with Russia. This time, the opportunity presented itself in the entirety of the Arena of VDNKh – a Mega Pavillion and Garden, showcasing the economic achievements of Russia over the years and the Russian advancements in Space Research and Technology.

What a beauty..!! Christmas is right here it seems. A perfect white icy dreamland in VDNKh, Moscow. Quite reminiscent of a similar scene in the movie “Home Alone 2”

And thus, its a wrap, for now.

This dreamland of Russia will be missed sorely, which will make me visit Russia again.

Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I will miss you until we meet again


So, the trip which started with the aims of ticking off: Cold, December, Birthday, finally gave me a lifetime of experiences worth cherishing for every moment henceforth

Towers of Candy, Ice, Sacrosanct Beauty, Fjords, Arctic, Polar Night, Tundra, Aurora Borealis, Frozen Beaches, Great Russian warmth and hospitality, Adventures, Bullet Trains – A Dream, Fairytale experience indeed

Russia s lyubovyu..!!

Spasibo Bolshoye Russia..!!

© Abirbhav Mukherjee. All the pictures / videos posted in this article are my own unless otherwise mentioned.


  1. Amazing post Abir san, I felt like I was in the journey too… Seriously you really shattered some misbeliefs about Russia.. The amazing experiences you had during train rides and watching Aurora makes me to put Russia in my bucket list too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Preeti san for your visit and your lovely comment.. 🙂 🙂 I am glad that it had the desired effect of shattering negative stereotyping of Russia.. 🙂
      I am elated that you would like to visit Russia.. 😀 It would be a great experience and I am sure you will fall in love with Russia.. ❤ ❤
      If you like train rides, don't forget to take a spin in their Sapsan Bullet Train..


  2. Your love of ice and cold and your passion for what you saw and experienced in Russia really shine through in this post. I felt like I was right along with you on the journey. I think it’s so cool that you selected Russia in the dead of winter as your birthday travel destination.
    I too dream of visiting the “Towers of Candy.” It is so unique and such an iconic Moscow site.
    I think you were wise to travel by train versus plane so you could really immerse yourself in the feeling of that vast icy landscape. Lucky you with all those wonderful surprises, especially seeing the Aurora Borealis.
    I’m sure this birthday will be a tough one to top!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Madam for visiting this article and sharing your comments.. ☺️☺️ They mean a lot..!!

      I am so elated to know that you felt as if you were right there in the Magical Realm of Russia.. ❄️❄️ after all, as a blogger, what more I can ask for..

      I hope you visit those “Towers of Candy” soon and take the train journeys in the dead of Winter.. Russia feels alive during Winter and I am sure you will be able to feel the magical vibes..!!

      Yes, the Birthday 2020 will be tough to top, but it shall be Icy for sure.. ❄️❄️❄️❄️
      Thank you once again Madam for your lovely comments.. ☺️🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a December child too:)) great post! you really had a spectacular birthday! but I think I’d prefer to visit Moscow in summer:) I like cool weather, not freezing cold for my travels:)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great..!! Nice to meet another December born person.. 😊😊 When is your Birthday then, if you don’t mind telling?

      I am a Chionophile and I hate positive temperatures (the only place where I didn’t hate it was in Turin).. ❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄

      Thank you so much Madam for your visit and your lovely comment..!! I hope you visit Moscow soon and enjoy the beauty of that place.. 🙂


  4. Very emotional story! Bravo! how interesting it was to read about your impressions of Russia. You will probably be surprised, but I have never seen the northern lights beyond the Arctic Circle. and, in general, have not been beyond the Arctic Circle.
    And we love winter very much. She also pleases us, as well as our guests. This year Moscow had a snowless winter, and we suffered from a lack of snow.
    And it’s nice to read about your walks at VDNH. All my childhood I lived in this area and VDNH is my very native place in Moscow, and I love him very much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Madam for sparing the time to not only review my post, but also share your thoughts on the same..!! 😊😊 It’s indeed an honour for me..!!

      Thank you for your wonderful thoughts and appreciation. Winters are magical, and Russian Winters are the most magical of them all.. ❤ ❄❄❄❄❄❄❄
      It's sad to know that in 2019-2020 Moscow didn't receive snowfall.. I believe that from November 2020 onwards, there will be huge amount of Ice and Snow in Moscow, given the low levels of pollution this year.. ❄❄

      You should visit Murmansk or the Russian Arctic.. Trust me, you won't regret the experience.. And since you love winter, you will enjoy it even more.. ❄❄❄❄

      Thank you once again Madam for your comment.. It's great to know that you found it relatable, especially with regards to your native place near VDNKh in Moscow.. ❄❄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was interesting to read your impressions.
        I’m already thinking about a trip beyond the Northern Lights. So I think we will be able to see him. many thanks for the wishes.
        We also hope for a great Russian winter next year.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You are welcome Madam..!! 😊😊
          I am sure you won’t be disappointed because Winters in Murmansk are harsh. There is snowfall in Murmansk even in the month of May.
          But Northern Lights will show themselves from November to February. That’s when you may wish to plan your trip to the Russian Arctic or Lapland. 😊😊❄❄❄❄❄❄
          Take Care and I wish you are able to see the Magic of the Arctic in 2020 itself.. 😊😊
          Spasibo.!! ❄❄

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I like to correspond with you. Thanks for the kind words. I also wish you the embodiment of your dreams!
            So that the magic of impressions fascinates you, Abirbhav

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thank you so much Madam for your kind words and good wishes..!! 😊😊
              It is indeed a great pleasure for me to talk to you and relive my Russian sojourn.. Your articles compel me to return to your Magical Country and I shall do that very very soon.. 😊😊
              Take Care Madam..!! Stay in touch.. 😊😊

              Liked by 1 person

                1. Rightly said Madam.. 😊😊 Thats one of the positives of the Age of Information.. 😊😊
                  Thank you once again for your lovely thoughts Madam..!! I shall indeed look forward to reading more of your stories, know your thoughts and learn more.. 😊😊

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. Thank you so much Madam once again for your kind words and encouragement.. 😊🙏
                      If you loved it so much, then feel free to share it with your friends and family in Russia. Would be delighted to hear the views of Russian people on such posts written by foreigners.. 😊😊 Maybe, that will in-turn help foster cross cultural exchanges and bonds.. 😊😊

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. Thank you immensely Madam once again .. 😊😊 It is my honour to have met you.. 😊🙏
                      Wish you endless happiness and travels, especially to the Russian Arctic.. ❄❄❄❄

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. We all have wonderful travels, Abirbhav 🙏
                      great happiness and harmony. in cold weather, snow ice you know yourself well and achieve harmony. ❄❄❄

                      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Madam for taking the time to read and share your comment.. ☺️ Glad that you want to explore frozen rivers and frozen beaches.. A fair warning though – you may not want to come back from such places.. ☺️❄️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Certainly Madam.. 😊 The World Cup is over, but some matches of Euro 2020 (now Euro 2021) will be held in Russia.. 😊
      Thank you so much Madam for reading it and sharing your comments.. 😊


  5. Haa….That’s one hell lot of adventure visiting Russia! 😀 I really liked the itinerary and the welcome sign board at Helsinki. You have nicely out together your words and the photographs. I am not sure, if I will ever be willing to go to Russia! 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much madam for taking the time to read it and share your comments.. 😀 So happy you liked them.. 🙂
      (this is a 3 part story by the way, make sure you check the other 2)
      I must say Russia during Winter is a World apart.. I mean you cannot stop falling in love with Russia, its ice, its people and nature, again and again, perhaps every second you stay there..!!
      If you are not scared of -10 degree C or lower temperatures, I suggest you look no further and go to Russia. I am sure you will never regret it.. 😀


  6. Brave family you have!! I am doing my masters not yet started earning am little more financially unfit. Will soon persue my dreams and here almost 12 a.m and thank you for your time!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great to know that you are studying your Masters. It takes a lot to achieve that level of education. Money will surely come to you post your graduation and job, don’t worry. Even I used to rue about the lack of money while I was studying.
      It’s 12 Midnight here as well (India).. Take Care and Wish you the Best..!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yeah very true. But it is not a single ones decision family’s permission is must, as far as my concern.
    And one more thing, it will be really good if can call Tanya!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Surely Tanya. Yes, family’s permission or atleast agreement is sometimes needed. Sometimes you have to go your own way. Sometimes you pursue and explain.
      I hope your family agrees to what you ask for. Maybe they won’t be able to help you financially, but mentally, they may support you. Atleast that’s what happened in my case (mental support post me convincing them that I will be safe in such Winters).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I can sense it, cuz you have touched the beauty of touching the soul through your words. Such a great writing. You are really lucky, people only tells but you are living your dreams and that is really Great!!
    Hope I get chance to visit.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, I can consider myself “lucky” as the weather decided to spare me and gift me some Ice with negative temperatures.. ❄️❄️❄️❄️
      I believe one can live his or her dreams if he or she tries and believes he or she can do that. It may take a variable amount of time depending on the individual. But try one must.
      Thank you so much Madam for your words of encouragement.. ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, enjoyed every single line of this post. Hope this article is much more than simply be a post. You are package of adventure, I suppose. You have seen your childhood wish coming true what could be more beautiful than this!! Indeed Russia is beautiful. By the way I too love winter. Keep exploring the world. 😊✌

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trust me, the article is not even a fraction of the experience I had the privilege of gaining, on the trip of a lifetime so far.. ☺️
      Thank you Madam for your eloquent praise.. ☺️☺️
      I don’t consider myself to be an adventurer. I try doing things I like.. ☺️ and fulfilling my dreams is a part of them.. ☺️
      Glad to know that you love Winter.. ❄️❄️ which makes Russia a recommended place for you..!! Hope you go there and feel the Magic on Ice.. ❄️❄️
      Thank you so much once again.. ❄️☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Abir, ho una confessione da farti: odio il freddo, la neve mi mette tristezza e mi irrigidisco come un baccalà quando la temperatura scende!😂
    Eppure…leggerti è un piacere e seguirti nella tua storia è come leggere un romanzo d’avventura. Sembra di poter vedere le distese di ghiaccio, la maestosità di Mosca,la melanconia di San Pietroburgo. Sai che mi hai fatto venir voglia di andarci? In primavera o in estate però! Chissà che non mi appassiona anch’io a questi luoghi…Grazie Abir

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bene, accetto umilmente il tuo complimento. Voglio dire, se potessi evocare l’interesse di viaggiare in luoghi più freddi, in qualcuno che odiava il freddo, allora credo di aver fatto un lavoro decente. Non andare in Russia durante l’inverno, Benedetta. Potresti non voler tornare mai più. Potresti amare stare nella costa artica e guardare le aurore celesti, giorno dopo giorno. Grazie mille per il tuo bellissimo commento. Mi hai reso felice.. ☺️❄️

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Such a beautiful post Abirbhav – more so because it started with a dream and a wish to do something different on your 30th birthday.You actually went to the other end of the world to celebrate your birthday. Wow! That is commendable. Just reading your journey and then the sighting of the Aurora made the entire experience magical. I felt I was there – thanks to your detailed writing. It makes me want to travel to the place. I like cold places too but this seems a bit too cold for me. I’d prefer autumn in Russia I think. Just seeing pictures of snow and the cold waters made my head freeze. Wishing you many more travel journeys!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Madam for such a glorious praise, in addition to taking the time to visit my blog.. 😊😊
      Well, Dreams are powerful, aren’t they? Or atleast that’s what I would like to believe in. Took some nerves to fight off the anxiety of going solo to uncharted territories, amidst a weather which is famous for its bone chilling (literally) severity..!! But it had to be done..
      The Aurora sightings were a bonus. So were the Fjords.. So were the “Pillars of Light”.. Didn’t count on seeing them, but insanely happy nevertheless.. (mistook the natural phenomenon of the “Pillars” as some marketing gimmick)
      Cutting the cake with freezing cramped fingers, in a white landscape, beneath the celestial Aurora candles, was priceless..!! 😊
      A tip for the Auroras though.. Autumn may not be a good time to see them, simply because there won’t be much of a night.. And Auroras would like to show themselves mostly at nights.. Let me know if you need any information, will be happy to help..!!
      Thank you once again Madam.. 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kudos to you Abirbhav and that travelling gene in you that takes you places. I can only imagine and marvel at it. I think the ‘solo’ part of it was what made it even more special – to think of someone (you in this case) taking a literally ‘epic’ journey to celebrate their 30th birthday, again literally in the middle of nowhere is magical (there’s no other word for it). Its probably what so many dream of but you did it. Great!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you so much once again Madam..!! It is indeed heartening to learn that you found it marvelous.. 😊
          I believe you can relate the “solo” trip and “epic” journey to the discussion on “freedom” and “letting go”.. who knows that once you let go, the result might be so “epic”?
          I remember facing doubts or fears within myself only. But I had to “let go” of them..
          Sorry for the “philosophical” stuff.. And thank you once again for your lovely comments..!! 😊
          You may find the next article in this series a bit more to the point and informative, which may be used to plan out an actual trip..!! Let me know how you find it.. 😊

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Madam for your appreciation.. 😊
      I am happy to know that you liked the short tour, despite the fact that cold weather doesn’t appeal much to you.. Thank you so much once again.. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Loved this wonderful engaging post and photos! Have only stopped at the airport in Moscow and now you’ve wet my appetite to explore Russia – thank you. 🙂 I have to say, I’m shivering whilst seeing your photos…

    It’s a shame that there’s such a stigma attached to Russia and its people but from your post, it sounds as though you found very friendly locals. What a wonderful venue for a restaurant. What was the food like on the Flying Dutchman?

    My dream is to see the stunning Aurora (my sister’s name) Borealis…I’m sure it will happen one day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, I must say I am speechless and I don’t know how to respond.. 😊❄️🤗
      Yet, gathering the words to respond.. Phew..!!

      That is really overwhelming and a big one coming from an expert..!! I am surprised that you could feel shivers post reading this, in addition to developing an appetite to experience Russia.. 🇷❄️ .. I mean, what more of an impact is left to ask for?
      Thank you immensely Madam.. 😊😊

      Yes, it is quite sad to see the negative stereotyping of such a beautiful country and its people. One of the objectives for writing this post is to blunt such a stereotype and showcase the facts, as they are. I am a thousand per cent confident that you will fall in love with Russia.. 🇷🇺

      Well, the food in the Flying Dutchman (St. Petersburg) was delectable.. I had ordered Chicken Kiev. You can feel an addictive medley of the aroma and taste, playing havoc (in a positive sense) on your head, making you crave for more. The filling, the oils were never messy and were perfect complements to the surrounding layer of chicken, tenderized with finesse. Worth a try in my personal opinion.

      And yes, I hope you are able to see the celestial curtains called the Aurora (maybe with your sister sharing the same name) Borealis. To be on the safer side, do stay for atleast a week to iron out all the odds against an Aurora sighting. Let me not go into the Mathematical part of it (which I don’t know myself.. 😛 ) It requires patience and keen observation as not to mistake a cloud for an Aurora or vice-versa (I ignored an Aurora staring at me right from my hotel window and embarked upon an arduous journey to the “edge” of the world, not that I am complaining)

      Do satiate your appetite for Russia.. Happy Traveling..!! 🇷🇺😊

      Liked by 1 person

        1. You are most welcome Madam.. ☺️
          Glad to be of help..!!
          As far as I know about the Trans-Siberian railway, it goes from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, and not Beijing.. And it takes about a week to complete its journey.. But I believe that the experience will be worth the time.. ☺️
          Do let me know if you need any further information on Russia, it’s railways, it’s people or the Majestic Auroras.. Will be happy to help.. ☺️

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You can start it in Beijing, I looked it up a few years’ ago. But I don’t want to do it in one week, instead, take 12 months to travel through China, Mongolia, Russia whilst getting on and off at different points. Would be a marvellous trip but at the time, visas were too hard to get once you were out of your country of residence.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. You are right.. The best way to have a fulfilling experience is to get off at different points and start again at a later point in time..
              Well, I don’t know about Chinese visa, but Russian visa is quite hassle free, quick and straightforward.. the country is trying to attract tourists.. Good luck for this epic journey..!!
              Happy Traveling.. ☺️❄️

              Liked by 1 person

  13. Well we were a school party . This incident involved playing cards–that we would always carry about with us so when we all met up again we would pick up the game where we left off–being flung from the deck of the ship by a then boyfriend down to the dock where we were standing. It also involved being marched off by guards with guns, a member of school staff being hurriedly fetched before there was a diplomatic incident and four of us seeing the inside of some holding tent that talking uncliched places and places not on everyone’s itinerary was certainly that. You did ask me what places I had seen in St Petersburgh. Well that was one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh My God..!! That beats all other uncliche places, hands down..
      And thanks for the warning though. Will stay a mile away from cards in Russia..!!
      Jokes apart, I understand that must have been quite a harrowing experience for you. Hope the interaction with the common people in Russia (not involving the Police) was able to relax you a bit..


  14. That was a wonderful post. I felt I was there in the sharp cold seeing these wonderful sights. You write beautifully when you describe your day or your journey or a place. You have the ability to hook a reader in. I am very interested in your comments about Russian people. I was in St Petersburg many years ago. it was with a school group and we were there a few days while the bulk of the party went on by train to Moscow. It was my chance to go to Moscow but I am a whistlestop kind of traveller. I want to see a place. Anyway one of my friends and I got on tram and I had never met such a friendly people. I still have badges they gave us that day, on a bag of mine. They took them from their own lapels to cross a language bridge there, thus crossing a world one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so happy to be able to bring back your memories of Russia.. Thank you immensely for your wonderful comments.. 🙂
      Glad to know that your interaction with the Russian people was delightful, as was mine. I feel Russian people are inherently quite warm and hospitable.. I mentioned one case over here in this blog post which should be sufficient to prove so..
      And I love trams.. Rode the one in St. Petersburg as well.. 🙂
      Would like to hear more about your experience in Russia..!!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh.. I believe the “bossy” attitude might have irked some Policemen.. 😉
          Just kidding.. (would like to know more about the incodent though.. 😉 )
          Yes, they are warm people. I don’t know why they are portrayed otherwise. Anyways, I hope we can demolish that myth once and for all.. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  15. Brilliant read, Abirbhav!
    Between your vivid descriptions and beaming enthusiasm, I was so “there”, that I nearly turned to ‘high-five’ you three times!
    Your account of being showered with birthday wishes from the Universe, at the stroke of midnight, beneath your Aurora Borealis candles, quite frankly brought a tear of happiness to my eye. Thank you for the ride-along on this incredible adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Holley for such a fantastic appreciation. Feeling very happy to know that you were “mentally transported” to Russia.. I believe the feeling would be amplified if you are physically present over there.. Thank you once again for such a glorious praise..!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your appreciation..!! Glad you could visualise the events as they happened in Russia.. 🙂
      Hope you visit Russia to experience them yourself..


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