Yaroslavl, Russia

Real Russian Suburbs

Embankment

V.I Lenin Monument

Yaroslavl is one of the ancient cities that make up the “Golden Ring” (A circle of ancient cities northeast of Moscow) and if you visit Russia then you must pay a short but sweet visit to this beautiful city.

The Church of IIya the Prophet

Inside the Cathedral of the Assumption

Cathedral of the Assumption

N.B in Yaroslavl and other smaller cities it is customary for women to cover their heads with scarves whilst visiting a place of worship. You will also need to wear a skirt in some monasteries (Generally spare scarves and skirts can be found at the entrances of these establishments and you’re free to borrow them)

General Experience:

I was incredibly fortunate to have made friends with local Russians in St Petersburg who recommended this city to me and showed me around. The people of Russia are incredibly warm and hospitable and I have no idea where the “cold and unfriendly” stereotype has come from. Whilst in Yaroslavl I was invited to new friends’ homes for authentic Russian foods such as Blini’s (Pancakes), Cutlet (meat patty) with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and gherkins, traditional Borscht (Beetroot soup) accompanied with lard and bread with pieces of garlic. {It’s safe to say that I declined the lard}. I was genuinely overfed and they treated me like family... they even gave me a parting gift as a thank you for having dinner with them.

Whilst in Yaroslavl I was taken to a local Russian Banya (sauna) where nobody spoke English but everyone was so incredibly friendly and tried to explain what I had to do (Men and Women are separate and the way they Banya differs somewhat)

 

Banya:

You enter a changing room, get undressed and take your towel with you to the sauna room, someone prepares some branches (Venik) by soaking them in a tub of warm/hot water.

 

Men: Get completely naked, lie down on their towel in the Banya with other men, get hit with the wet Venik, sweat in the banya, jump into a cold pool/pour a bucket of cold water over themselves by pulling a rope OR standing outside in the snow wearing only their towel, then come inside and chill out with some vodka in the seating area of the changing room before repeating the entire process over and over for 2-3 hours.

 

Women: Get completely naked, lie down on their towel in the Banya with other women, get hit with the wet Venik, sweat in the banya, jump into a cold pool/pour a bucket of cold water over themselves by pulling a rope OR standing outside in the snow wearing only their towel, then come inside and drink some tea/vodka/water/wine, and eat some fruit/other snacks whilst chatting, then applying a variety of face masks, scrubs, and exfoliating their bodies before repeating the entire process over and over for 2-3 hours.

 

N.B- Banya’s are not only for the twenty to thirty somethings so be prepared to see children and older people. It’s bizarre but it’s their culture… and yes everyone is naked.

 

During my time at the Banya, I met a group of women close to my age who shared their drinks and snacks with me whilst trying their best to include me in what they were doing. It was hard to keep up with them but they made me feel welcome despite the language barrier- This is true Russian nature.

 

Banya advice:

  • Do as the Russian do, bring your own flip flops, towels x2 (one to Banya with and the other for after your shower), an extra towel for your head if you think you may need one (most Russians wear special hats), toiletries to shower, drinks and snacks.
  • Don’t go to a touristy Banya house where they will charge you around 2,200 Roubles (£28) but instead find a local Banya in a gym which is more authentic (other than a real outdoor wooden house Banya) and will cost you around 480 Roubles (£6), plus you’ll get to meet the real locals.

 

Enjoy!

K x


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1 thought on “Yaroslavl, Russia

  1. Once again a fascinating account, your pictures are beautiful. Hope you are managing to keep warm and well.
    Our last day tomorrow (pupil free) Christian is cooking breakfast for us and then a lunch and Holidays! I said goodbye to the grade 6s today sad to see them go but ready to move on.m
    M

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