Yesterday was a special occasion, as both my roommate and I were invited to spend the day at our colleague’s dacha. A dacha is a Russian country house built to be a nice change of pace from concrete apartments, and this was no exception; however, I will say that this one was more or less normal that all the ones I’ve driven by. To get there, we had to take a bus about 25 minutes to the neighboring town, where we hopped on a train, which took an additional 75 minutes or so. Then, our colleague picked us up from the platform and drove for about another 10-15 minutes. Yeah, these dachas are relatively out there in the countryside. However, the travel, which in the grand scheme of things wasn’t very bad, was all worth it! The first thing we saw was another one of our colleague’s husband preparing the grill for the barbeque, and that instantly put us in a good mood! (We were a bit peckish at that point, but in general, you can’t beat barbeque.) Our colleague, Tatiana, was very proud when she showed us the inside of her dacha, and rightfully so. The dacha was two stories, but the top one was completed and the bottom was still missing the flooring, but it still was cheerfully homely. The top floor had cozy sofas, and it was easy to see how amazing it would be to come out to the countryside in winter with a nice cup of coffee, lounging around with the fire on. After taking a tour of the garden (which was awesome to see all the fruits and vegetables there!), it was time to eat. We started out getting our vegetables out of the way, as the meat was still being grilled. Having fresh ingredients was one of the highlights of the excursion, and we constantly were plied with cucumber, tomatoes, pickles (which came in handy for the various toasts), potatoes, and salad. After a while, the main course arrived, and boy was it worth the wait! Honestly, both of us Americans agreed that this Russian barbeque gives the ones found at home a run for their money. Over periods of time, we made several toasts, which, in no order, were to both Russian women and men, to the dacha, to our good health, and to each other/life. As this blog prides itself on dishing out the occasional tip, here’s one: in Russia, you chase your shots with pickles while taking your time with said shots. So, if anybody at home claims that taking shot after shot is the Russian way of drinking, you’re entirely wrong. Some funny moments came when Viktor, the loving husband to another one of our colleagues present, wanted to take a shot of the whiskey we brought with us, his wife Ludmila told him that she would divorce him if he did; after all, he was driving us back and while we didn’t leave until evening, she wanted him as sober as possible. Songs were sung in both Russian and English as well, which definitely added to the already amazing atmosphere; Victor is a musician, so he regaled us with fantastic covers and original songs. All in all, our first time visiting a dacha was a phenomenal experience that I hope I get to revisit!