Photos: author

You never know until you ask. A Russian couch surfer takes a couple of minutes to answer a question about his culture.

I FIRST MET MAXIM at the train station in Petrozavodsk, Russia. My wife and I had contacted him through Hospitality Club only a couple of days earlier from St. Petersburg. Even though our train rolled in at 6:50 AM, there he was, greeting us with a big, warm Russian smile.

Petrozavodsk is 400 km north of St. Pete and was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 to manufacture weaponry (the city’s name means “Peter’s Factory”). In one of the suburbs, Martsialnye Vody, you can find the oldest spa in Russia.

Keen to show us his city, Maxim brought us home and fed us pelmeni (dumplings), then allowed us a brief rest before ushering us out the door. We walked down to the embankment, a boardwalk on the shores of the second largest European lake, Lake Onega.

While we walked around the old factory city, we talked about Russia — about its politics, its police, and its culture.

The One Question Interview

What do you feel is the most important aspect of Russian culture?

“Hmm…I think it’s sincerity and honesty that has been berhymed by our poets. In this country, poets, writers and musicians have always been the ‘conscience of the people’. It’s very important to perceive Russia and its people through getting acquainted with the Russian literature and poetry.”

Maxim is known as “svini4” at HospitalityClub and can also be found lounging around CouchSurfing.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Someone else who’s fired up on Russian lit is Matador community member and contributor Robyn Johnson, not to mention laser tag!

Thinking of doing some couch surfing yourself? Make sure to read Turner Wright’s tips on setting up a killer profile. Or maybe you’re already addicted and looking for the camaraderie of a fellow serial couch surfer.