Paola Ruffini arrived in Russia for language practice and for adventures.
The excerpt from her story.
"In Italy I studied Russian at the University, so I arrived in Russia to have more practice.
I immediately decided not to go to Moscow or St.Petersburg, it seemed to me, that too many travellers had visited these cities.
So,I had appeared in Samara in the house of the host family.
I think this is the best way to see how people live, to learn the culture from the inside.
It was easy to communicate, as they spoke in Russian and in English, such practice was very useful to me.
Having arrived in Samara, I only worked at the office – I was engaged in the volunteer work.
There I had got acquainted with my Italian friend by the name of Lorenzo. He wanted to travel to Lake Baikal, and I supported his idea.
One of the friends of Lorenzo told, that he had reached Lake Baikal by hitchhiking for five days, and we had decided to follow to his example.
The first thing we did - we chose the date, which was convenient for us to start the trip and we had made a schedule of a trip.
The first day we had to reach the town- Ufa, the second one- Ekaterinburg and so on.
We decided at once, that we wouldn't like to waste money and we did everything to make a journey was very cheap.
We just went on the road and stoped a car to get to the cities.
It was our first experience of hitchhiking, and we were surprised that cars stopped so often, that we never waited more than 10 minutes.
During the trip nobody asked us to pay for the travel, on the contrary, one person, which we had met in Tyumen, offered us money, having learned, that we were foreigners.
Of course, we refused his help and we could not understand, why he wanted to aid us?
Everywhere, we met with kind people, which were ready to offer their support.
They were so happy when they realized that we were the Italians, which could speaking in Russian.
Lorenzo had lived in Russia more half a year and he knew the language very well.
On my native land, the hitchhiking is not popular for twenty years, they consider, that it is very dangerous.
It turns out, that in Russia they consider the same way.(It is true, because everywhere in the world you can meet different people. (oilfox’s note).
No matter where we stayed, the people who received us, wanted to show their city and they wanted to get acquainted more close.
We took part in celebration of the day of the foundation of Ekaterinburg.
In Novosibirsk Paola met her girl-friend, with which she got acquainted during her travelling in Germany.
For six days by hitchhiking we got to Irkutsk.
From that place we reached Lake Baikal by bus in eight hours.
Having settled into the house which we had rented for a couple of days, I and Lorenzo had gone to swim to the lake.
The water was beautiful, very clean and so cold that the other tourists looked at us as on madmen.
But actually the really madness was everything, that we had overcome before. The lovely nature was there, there were no words to describe it.
It seemed that it was not a lake, but a sea. The water was so clean that you can drink it. There were stone and sand beaches on the lake.
It was surprising for us that so many tourists were on Lake Baikal, because I had not known, that it was a well-known place. For example, in Italy nobody knows about it.
We returned by the train.
Trains in Russia are very good, but they drive very slow. But it was an advantage you can meet interesting people, communicate with them during the journey.
We learned a great deal about Russian culture, and our love to Russia became even more than before. I think the Russians are different from the Italians.
In my opinion, in Russia, you need to take the first step to get acquainted. Sometimes I saw people who were sad, but when I addressed them, they began to smile.
People - this is the main thing that surprised me here. Those whom I met in Russia, were always kind to me.
I had lived for several months in Russia. I traveled to Shiryaevo, to Togliatti, to Kazan with my friends. I liked Russian food: pancakes, borsch, pelmeni.
I thought that in Russia everybody drinks vodka, but it turned out it's not true. I have not known that in Russia they drink so much tea.
I liked this tradition, because in Russia tea is tasty and very good quality.
I'll bring home lots of souvenirs from Russia: the water of Lake Baikal, Russian nesting dolls, chocolate from Samara, a glass-holder from the train.
It's a very beautiful and interesting thing. But I am going to come back and continue my journey.
I want to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg, and then to travel to Karelia. I have heard that it is a very beautiful place.