Until summer 2016, I think I'd never been inside an Orthodox church. There were tons of beautiful churches in Ukraine, but it always made me nervous to think of going into them. Plus, there was always the added step of finding a headscarf / long skirt, so I just avoided them.
Last summer, it finally happened in Russia. During a weekend in Kazan, we went on a whirlwind tour of mosques + cathedrals, each stop requiring a new headscarf / long skirt. Before that, though, we warmed up to the idea with an afternoon excursion to Nizhny Novgorod's Pechersky Ascension Monastery. This was perhaps the first time I'd ever been in an Orthodox church... and you know what?, it actually went fine.
What makes me the most nervous about these churches are the Orthodox priests.
Seriously, how could you not be intimidated by these guys? They're a terrifying combo of badass + thug.
(Watch this video and this video.)
Once I taught pronunciation to a Catholic priest from Mexico. He would show up for our lessons in jeans and a fleece vest, drove a Jeep Cherokee, drank beer, and was really down to earth. Perhaps I put too much stock in internet memes, but Orthodox priests really, really intimidate me. I could never imagine one showing up for an English lesson in a Patagonia vest. Instead, this is what I see in my head when thinking of them (this meme was floating around during EuroMaidan)-