Ah, Russia. What a magnificent country. A country I’m not at all frightened of if I say anything out of line. Oh no, not at all. They don’t give us any reason to be absolutely terrified. Oh, no. I’m – I’m, hunky-dory. And also sweating quite profusely. But come on, isn’t that image of an iron giant simply a tired old stereotype? There’s more to Russia than a terrifying amount of power. They have a cat theatre made up entirely of cats. Seriously. Moscow has more billionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world. They are very superstitious. In 1705, Emperor Peter I instituted a beard tax to everyone who had a beard, and those who had a beard were ordered to carry around a beard token as evidence that they’d paid the tax. I’m not sure if it’s still in force, actually. In Losevo, every year The Bubble Baba Challenge takes place on The Vuoksa River, where 400 men and women race using inflatable sex dolls as flotation devices for rafting. Honestly, there are hundreds of videos of it on YouTube. And every year, in the region of Ulyanovsk, workers are advised by the officials to take a day off work. This happens on September 12, the ‘day of conception’. Yes. Ordered to take a day off work in the name of mass conception. This is, I kid you not, also true. They have a population problem. You get prizes if you succeed in conceiving on that day. I’m not sure what they are, though. Probably a plate with a photo of Putin’s face on it…
This wonders project was organized by the newspaper Izvestia, the radio station Radio Mayak, and the television station Russia. The results were declared in Red Square on June 12, 2008.
I don’t choose religious places, even if they’re not used anymore as churches, like the one on this list. So, out goes The Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat. Unofficially known to laymen as Saint Basil’s. Mamayev Kurgan (Мамаев Курган) is a height. I’ve never come across a height in a wonders question, before. A height? It’s sort of like a vantage point. It’s a bit strange. It’s underneath a world-famous statue. Why didn’t they make that a wonder I wonder. Hmm. Don’t get that at all. Mount Elbrus (Эльбру́). Well, you know me. I don’t like mountains. Just looking at one takes my breath away, and not in a good way. Surely a wonder is to be enjoyed. I couldn’t enjoy that. Makes me gasp for air just looking at it. Yes, there’s a cable car, but it only goes to 3,000 feet of the total 15,000. I get altitude sickness. The notion of climbing her is a ridiculous one. Manpupuner rock formations are a series of… rock formations. I can’t really describe them any better than that. Phallic shaped. I find them more humorous than wonderful. The Peterhof Palace (Петерго́ф) is very pretty, but there are greater wonders on this list. And we have The Valley of Geysers (Долина гейзеров). A valley of… geysers. Whilst having an amusing name, it’s little more than a… valley. Of geysers. Hmm. Well, as lovely as that is…
I’m going for Lake Baikal (о́зеро Байка́л). I’ve never chosen a lake before, the idea of me, one who cannot swim, drowning, has always been a deterrent. But it’s a beautiful lake. A really stunning world heritage site. The most voluminous freshwater lake in the world, and the deepest at 5,387 feet. One of the clearest lakes in the world. The world’s oldest lake, at 25 million years old. Home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals. It is a marvellous wonder, a truly ethereal and magical beauty.
Lake Baikal. My favourite wonder of Russia.
Photo: Lake Baikal
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