Russian dacha isn't something you'll find in other countries. Go to France, US or China - it's either villas or farms. Dachas are sort of a cross-breed between the two.
In Soviet times, people used dachas to grow fruits and vegetables - the stores were not abundant to say the least. Today when things are different, dacha is a place for rest and relaxation, a chance to escape the big city. Your own quiet retreat.
In summer, the trains and roads are jammed with Muscovites going out of town to rest. People still plant things these days, but they do it rather for fun. Today, the only deficit we have is the deficit of nature, and so we go into the woods for mushrooms and berries, breathe the fresh air, and swim in the nearby rivers and lakes.
If someone invites you over to their dacha, be sure to agree. First, it's great to get out of Moscow. You'll breathe fresh air and maybe have a chance to picture some Moscow region's beautiful sights.
Second, dacha is something quite intimate. To get invited by someone means that person really likes you. If that's a girl you want to marry- congrats, you've done everything right
Finally, dacha usually means you'll have a chance to taste delicious Russian shashlik. In case you don't know - shaslik is Caucasian dish that's been widely adopted in Russia. Marinated pieces of meat on a skewer, roasted on open fire. Sounds like barbeque, but not quite like it.
Shaslik is not a meal. It's a tradition, a whole ritual! Women aren't allowed to prepare it (sorry!) - it's men that set up the bonfire and do the cooking. And then, when the meat is ready, it's time for stories, jokes and some wine. In short - a great moment to make new friends and learn the old ones better!
If the weather's good and a forest is nearby - don't miss your chance! Ask your hosts to show you where berries and mushrooms are! You'll have a great time, make lots of photos, and hopefully make a tasty addition to your meal.
If there's a pond nearby - consider swimming. When it's hot, there's nothing like a refreshing dive! Plus, you'll get a real sun tan and make your friends suspect you were somewhere in the Caribbean and not in Moscow.
And the last thing - breathe! The air is so fresh outside of Moscow you can almost "taste" it! Before you get back to that big, stuffy city - spread your lungs for some oxygen!
As someone once put it, it's "juicy like a watermelon"!
- Victory Day in Russia 2009. City of Chekhov, Moscow region.
- Russian banya - the tales of Russian steam bath
- The beauty of Moscow region