In July, we traveled to Russia, native land of the ice slides that evolved into the modern roller coaster. It’s where it all began: the place without which there would be no credit whores, no feelings of sheer euphoria that come with finding that truly special ride, no playground fights between rival enthusiass factions, no raised eyebrows when I tell people that this is my hobby.
It’s certainly an interesting place, not least of all because it’s been gaining steam in the news lately, what with the Olympics scheduled for Sochi this winter and the fact that its lawmakers are in desperate need of a wake-up call that commences with Macklemore’s “Same Love” playing on loop.
Controversies notwithstanding, Russia is fascinating. It’s given rise to some of the world’s greatest gymnasts and one of Family Guy’s most quoted jokes. The Cold War left millions of Americans paranoid, the Space Race literally rocketed the capabilities of science and technology further than many thought possible and that vertical red piece has led to many a triumphant Tetris player.
Coaster-wise, though, Russia is by no means a top destination for enthusiasts. On the contrary, Richard described it at one point as “scraping the bottom of the coaster barrel.” It’s a bit of a disappointment considering it’s the country that started it all, but as with any journey to a foreign country, to focus on the coasters at the expense of the culture as a whole would be a waste of a trip.
Our itinerary took us to Moscow and Saint Petersburg with several other enthusiasts over the span of four days. I went into it with open expectations and came away with an appreciation for the chance to see the country, a disdain for its inability to provide a clean public toilet anywhere, an admiration for some of the most amazing architecture in the world, a bewilderment that this amazing architecture is frequently located within an uninspired concrete shithole, a reawakened love for McDonald’s and, of course, a metric ton of Big Apple credits.