Last summer I announced that my friend Tyler and I were both set on working towards a trip to Russia in 2014. It's something that has been on my bucket list for over a decade now, and it was a goal that I was unable to fulfill after graduating high school (as was originally planned). At this point we both still seem enthusiastic about the potential adventure, but now begins the real challenge of making an idea a reality.
At the start of this year I took my first real step towards Russia by creating an account specifically for the trip. I've been contributing a bit of money from each paycheck to build my budget. In addition to that I've begun reading up on Moscow and St. Petersburg to get more of a feel for some of the things we might want to see and do. Those two cities are really going to be the focal point.
In comparing a few of my travel books from ten years ago to some of the recent ones I booked out from the library, the difference is dramatic. Russia is still a place in transition, but it's more stable than it was in the early 2000s. Just in reviewing some of the hotels, a handful of historic buildings have been completely revamped and bought by international hotel chains. I kid you not, but some of the hotel highlights in my early travel books advertised carpeting as a plus. Western investment has changed both my expectations and the landscape of options available.
The more I read, the more Russia in general seems like a place to choose your own adventure. The disparity seems increasingly apparent between some of the most expensive places in the world and the poorest. I'm more tempted than ever by the fact that options in accommodation have improved dramatically though, and it means that the trip I really want to have will be more attainable. There's something to be said for having a bit of money in your pocket to do things just the way you want. At this point it's just exciting to think that things are finally in motion again after all these years.