Grilled meat and high heels: How to enjoy the Russian beach

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Prepare your grilled chicken, take a photo with ‘the sun in your hand,’ and try to resist to churchkhela.

First time on a Russian beach? Some things may seem odd to you, like big groups BBQing (isn’t it hot enough?) or women in heels (classic!). How do you behave on a Russian beach without feeling like an alien? Just choose an activity and enjoy your vacation with your Russian friends.

1. BBQ forever

Outdoor leisure takes so much energy that people start eating right after arriving at the beach. Despite there usually being lots of cafés and restaurants, many people prefer to eat their own food. Some bring pies and drinks from home, but groups of friends will often organize a BBQ party. As you know by now, for Russians making shashlik is a kind of a national form of relaxation. Don’t be surprised if your Russian friends visit the store before going to the beach and pick up some meat, bread, vegetables, fruit, snacks, and soda. Some of the food will be eaten as an appetizer before the shashlik.

2. Try to resist local beach sellers

If you were planning on spending some time in the shade of a palm tree and read a book, stock up on ear plugs because these guys can be prettyload. While walking up and down the sandy stretch sellers yell “hot corn”; "cold drinks"; "churchkhela" (the popular Caucasian dessert made from nuts glazed in sweet grape juice); "homemade pies," and other food. You won’t find kiosks, they just wind their ways between holidaymakers stretched out on the sand before dipping into their huge bag of goods if someone buys something.

3. Take some photos as momentos

Don’t be surprised if you see ladies with make-up and wearing high heels on the beach. It’s an old Russian tradition to take photos that prove you were at the seaside. Would you do it with seaweed in your hair? We doubt it. Traditional photos include “sun on the hand,” “a portrait on a stone,” and “gazing at the horizon.”

4. Get nostalgic about your Soviet childhood (even if you didn’t have one)

Do you know what the most popular game on a beach is? Nope, not poker. Meet pioneerball, the Soviet kids’ sport based on volleyball. The outdoor game requires a net, a ball, and a group of merry people – usually from four to 10. The main difference from the volleyball is that you don’t need to hit the ball back, you should just catch it.  Sometimes you may see people playing without a net.

5. Top up your plan

There are two strategies for getting a “Russian” suntan. While some people simply play volleyball in the sun, others adopt more scientific approaches and work out the direction the sun is traveling and how to get maximum exposure. The main thing here is not to fall asleep or you might wake up looking like a lobster. If you do get sunburned, grease up your body with sour cream, trust us, it helps. There’s a joke that only single people get sunburned on their back, because they don’t have anyone to rub cream into their sad. Despite the fact we all know about the dangers of UV rays, Russians don’t usually use sunblock during the first days of their holiday - no idea why.

6. Go extreme

Tired of eating and tanning yourself? At every Russian resort there’ll be extreme activities, from banana boating and jet skis to inflatable Luna-parks. And when you think you’ve tried everything – why not agree to a massage, which will also be peddled by someone walking up and down the beach.

Can’t choose your fave beach activity? Visit the Black Sea resort of Anapa and try them all

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