April 2009


That’s right, I am going on holiday, not on vacation.  I will be lucky if I don’t return to the US with British accent.

On Friday, I am going to MOSCOW, the capital of this giant monstrosity of a country.  I wasn’t really excited for the trip for some reason until now.  Maybe because its a little scary, riding on a really old, crappy train for 9 hours overnight, negotiating our way to our hostel, being in a GIANT city, (don’t worry, trivia is yet to come) and so forth.  But now it is seming real, and quite awesome.

When people think of Russia, they picture this scene: 3401587-march_2007_red_square_moscow-moscow

And I am so going to be there on Saturday!  I will visit museums, cathederals, historical sights, parks, and markets in a city that’s over 850 years old.  Guys, that’s old.  I will also get to test my navigational skills on this beast.  I was all excited to break a personal record: biggest or oldest metro ridden, but it turns out that NYC totally blows Moscow out of the water.  So, shucks.  Either way, that map is intimidating and a little overwhelming.  BRING IT.

Trivia Time!

Moscow – Capital of The Russian Federation

Population: 11 million

Age: 862 years old (that’s a lot of candles) founded in 1147

Metro: 74 years old (opened in 1935), 292 km long

Other interesting facts that I just don’t know yet!

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Spring is here!  It’s sunny and almost 60 degrees outside!  Why am I in here writing to you?!  I am waiting for my student to get done with class (she is taught by someone else on Saturdays) and we are going for a walk, so, don’t worry about me missing out on this weather.  Of course, even though the weather has been quite nice for a whole week, we STILL don’t have any leaves on trees or grass or flowers.  I am convinced that nothing grows in St. Petersburg – since I have been here, there haven’t been any signs of life.  IF the trees ever leaf (is leaf a verb too?  Leaves definitely don’t bloom or blossom… hmmm), I might faint or cry.  I will believe it when I see it.

On the topic of disbelief: I got home late last night and found a random pair of pants on my bed, all folded up, but clearly not mine.  (When you live and work with expats, you quickly memorize their entire wardrobe, considering it fit into 2 suitcases or less)  Now, most of us have been losing weight here, because of the strange times we teach, sometimes we don’t eat for a good 10 or more hours, and the walking the mile and half commute, plus the food is probably healthier and still a little strange.  Because of this, there has been somewhat of a hand-me-down chain, with me at the end.  So you can imagine why it didn’t surprise me too much to find these pants, I figured someone grew out of them and it was my turn to have a go.  I look at the tag… not one, but two sizes smaller than what I wore when I came over here.  No way, I thought, and put them in front of my wardrobe and went to bed.  This morning, I thought, why not.  Give it a go.  And, and…. THEY FIT.  Ladies and gentlemen, I have lost two pant sizes!

Tomorrow I am going on a tour to Novgorad.  I don’t know much about it, so you will have to educate yourselves (or wait for me to get back, when I might blog about it if I am not too lazy.  Unlikely, ha!)

Not a big update to give at the moment besides celebrating that I have been in Russia for 5 months!  And.. welll… You’ll see: month-5-006

month-5-025-2

Yep.  Strangest haircutting experience I have ever had.  But, really, I expect nothing less from Russia.

Yesterday I ran, then I walked, then I ate, then I walked, and then I walked home.  It was a foot powered day.  Not at all sure how far I traipsed, but it must have been over 3 miles.  Running was not impressive.  I confirmed all of my students’ reactions to my running in the city with all the dirty air.  Is true.  I wasn’t physically tired most of the time, but I just couldn’t breathe.  My lungs were doing all they could to rid themselves of the pollution too, if you know what I mean.  Despite the hacking disgustingness that was me, I couldn’t help noticing that I was running through such a beautiful place.  My thoughts went something like….. ‘run, run, run, slowdownyouhavealongwaytogo, run, run, run, look, the church on spilt blood, run run run, over this tiny canal, giant park, palace, palace, ohmygodicantbreathe, cough, along this canal, beautiful, deathly air, cough, ahhh the neva river, run run run, walk walk walk LOOK another runner, run run run, fishermen, hermitage, walk through palace square, hide between cars to rid my lungs of pollution, run, walk home’.  Everyone was looking at me like I was crazy.  Like.. hard core staring at me.  Strange thing was, I didn’t care.  Screw them.  Then I got home and looked in the mirror and realized I had my crazy face on.  Some of you know the face I am talking about.  Whole face BRIGHT red, save two small ovals right on top of my cheekbones.  And…. nope, still don’t care.

After the required nap on the couch after lunch after shower after running, I went shopping!  I got two different nail polish colors at ривгош, I went to дом книги and bought two tiny Molskine notebooks and paper clips.  Met up with my student and we walked and walked and walked (Russians have their own word for walking for pleasure: гулять and they do it all the time!).  That was pretty awesome.  Elen gave me my own personal walking tour, explaining things from lineage to trivia about different sights we walked by. We ended up a couple of miles away on Nevsky Prospect (невский проспект) at a Chinese resaurant.  This was the best Chinese place I have been to here so far.  The one drawback: the whole menu is in Russian.  It’s doable, but… really freaking slow.  I had sweet and sour chicken with some really good rice with vegitables.  After about two hours of great conversation, we set out for another walk.  We walked around… saw the shortest street in St. Petersburg, almost got hit by a car, beautiful buildings… you know, Russian things.  Stopped into a small quirky drugstore type place and had a blast picking out which animal decoration we wanted on our tissues.  For the record, I got a bunny.  Elen: hamster. After leaving Elen at the metro station, I walked the half mile home, along the canal, listening to the guitarist on one of the bridges, watching small iceburgs float by (in what seemed like the wrong direction) before returning home. On foot of course.

I believe I actually had a dream about sitting in the front seat of an SUV last night.

That’s right.  Today marks the halfway point in my tour d’ Russia.  I started compiling a list in my head of all the things I am going to miss (in 4.5 months when I leave, lol).  Peroshki, for example.  With cheese or ham and cheese, with ground beef, with ground beef and potatoes, with rice, chicken and mushrooms, with pizza-ish filling, cabbage, sausage.  They are just great and I KNOW I will miss them, especially the delicious, butery, flaky, delicious ones from Petergof that are CHEAP too!

Also, the SUSHI.  I truthfully eat sushi at LEAST once a week here.  Minimum.  I think I need it to survive here.

Finally, I have news.  Jane’s ticket was just purchased for the end of my stay here!  She and I will spend 2days and 2 nights in fabulous MOSCOW!  There we will see world famous sites like: Red Square and the Kremlin!  Then we will travel by train to the cultural capital of Russia, St. Petersburg!  After spending a week there (here) we will hop a flight to Sweden, where we will spend 3-4 days before coming home (ish, Minneapolis).  So exicted!!

To celebrate my midpoint and Jane’s trip, I give you: The Partridge Family.

Will there come a day you and I can say
we can finally see each other?
Will there come a time we can find the time
to reach out for one another?

We’ve been travelin’ in circles such a long,
long time tryin’ to say hello, hello!
And we can just let it ride, but you’re someone that I’d
like to get to know.

CHORUS:
I’ll meet you halfway, that’s better than no way
There must be some way to get it together
And if there’s some way, I know some day
We just might work it out forever.

Will there come a day (will there come a day)
you and I can say (you and I can say)
we can finally see each other?
Will there come a time (will there come a time)
we can find the time (we can find the time)
to reach out for one another?

I’ll meet you halfway, that’s better than no way
I’ll meet you halfway, that’s better than no way

(P.S.  I took that picture in the header.  On a moving bus.  That’s right.)