A great place to learn Russian culture and a different side of the world. Wide open nature but cold winters inland. The city itself doesn't get too cold because of the ocean winds but only has 2 fairly warm months in the year. Summer is the nicest time to visit with many festivals, activities, camping and fishing to do, including "white nights" (24h light).
I was taken to one of their famous gulags, where famous scientist and political prisoners were taken for their knowledge and anti-government beliefs. It was I am sure a horror in the beginning and a horror at the time of my visit. There were old crumbling buildings, broken wire fencing and tons of mud.It was a very depressing site.
What made it interesting was the fact that mankind can be so inhuman towards each other because of different beliefs, and to use people to ascertain knowledge and then they are thrown away, because their government want to selfishly keep secrets that are a threat to mankind anyway. That country is not alone in their devilment. I also am reminded of the fact that blacks were enslaved against their will by a landlord or owner, who felt it was his God given right to enslave others for his greed and pleasure.