“Moscow isn’t made of rubber”, they say.
Russia is certainly no stranger to the worldwide trend of urban migration, with folks from around the nation and neighboring countries, flocking to the capital city lured by the promise of better jobs and a higher standard of living.
And with Moscow rapidly losing any space for residential construction (it isn’t made of rubber, after all), the metro area and suburbs have also been growing at a mind-boggling pace over recent years.
These Moscow city suburbs have names like Krasnogorsk, Mytischi, Khimki, and Balashikha, and although they have populations of 150,000+, you probably have never heard of them, unless you have spent time in Russia.
To be quite frank, cities like Dolgoprudny are probably best known as a stepping stone to Moscow. For example, if you are moving from Siberia to Moscow, you could sell your large apartment in Siberia and buy a one-room studio in Dolgoprudny (of course, depending on exactly where you are coming from). This is because real estate prices in Dolgoprudny are less expensive than in the capital city. In this quite typical scenario, you could then take the 27 minute commuter train ride from Dolgoprudny to your new job in Moscow.
It’s quite easy to begin to see these Moscow satellite cities simply as a place for cheaper real-estate and a concrete jungle of new high-rise apartment buildings. That is, until you get to know the local people.
With the Russian language video-blog project The Amerikanets, we are often known for trips to the far-flung regions of Russia like Kamchatka, and our subscribers are often suggesting that we visit Baikal or Yakutia. But when some folks invited us to Dolgoprudny, we decided to give it a try.
And we were again reminded that the greatest thing about Russia is not the mind-blowing beauty of Kamchatka (although we love that), nor the architecture found in little known places such as Vyborg. The greatest thing about Russia is the people.
In Dolgoprudny we learned of some folks who won a Nobel prize for their discoveries surrounding two-dimensional graphene. Then I had my first attempt at playing rugby, being trained by a member of the Russia national rugby team, and that was followed by a dip in the river with the local “walrus” club.
In short, it was an unforgettable day… because of the people. And if learning about physicists, playing rugby, and “walrussing” weren’t enough, in the evening the day was topped off be what was (for me) the most difficult part… cooking. Watch to the end of the video to see me try my hand at making khachapuri, a traditional Georgian dish: