Здравствуйте! Hi everyone!
So, I am back from Великий Новгород after a very, very long bus ride. It’s been a busy 2 days, so I’d like to share it!
First off, on Friday, like I mentioned before, Vika and I were on a mission to find: a scarf, a jacket, and some gloves, which we eventually found after first buying some chocolate at the Chocolate Museum (oddly in a mall on Nevksy Prospekt).
Vika bought a chocolate белка (belka: squirrel), and I bought a chocolate Чижик Пыжик. (I attached a link with the history, but it’s in Russian, so you’ll have to Google Translate if you can’t read it). If transliterated, I bought a chocolate Chizhik Pizhik, which is this little bird statue by the Neva river near one of the bridges. Honestly, I have no idea what it is, or what it represents, but we had to take a picture of it for our scavenger hunt last weekend. I’ll read the history myself later.
Here it is:
Across the bottom it says: Привет из Питера, or Hi from Piter (Petersburg)!
I was super excited to eat the head, but it actually was not very good chocolate- really too sweet for me. (Never thought the day would come where I would find chocolate I don’t like, but I guess there’s always a time for a first). Unfortunate, isn’t it?
Anywho, that was the top of my day, and Saturday we left pretty early in the morning for Novgorod, which is about 2-3 hours away by car.
It was a nice trip. I was rooming with Vika again in the hotel, and when we got there, we had lunch and then went on a bus/walking tour of the city. It’s a very old, historic place, and I’m not going to go into detail about all the facts, but again, I included a link if you’d like to read about it, and will post some pictures under the Photography page.
We walked around the “Kremlin” as they called it, and saw a lot of the old churches that had been built and saved, and finally went into the oldest one St. Sophia Cathedral. It’s a very beautiful place, and if for whatever reason anyone has any desire to come visit Russia, Novgorod would be a good place to drive to and visit.
I’ve been expecting to feel somewhat of a connection between Serbian culture and Russian culture, and although there are similarities, for the most part I don’t feel like I’m part of the culture here, whereas going back to Serbia, I felt much more connected to everyone and everything. However, going into the churches and cathedrals, whether in Russia or Serbia always feels the most familiar to me, because that’s the one place where I don’t feel such a cultural difference.
After we finished our tour, we had a couple more hours before we had to go to dinner, so Vika and I went walking around the area again, taking some pictures. We ended up going back to the St. Sophia Cathedral, and saw the evening mass, which I would have to say has been the most comforting part of my experience so far, and which, I think, other people may not have appreciated as much.
I ended up buying my own souvenir for the trip: a golden cross.
It was чуть-чуть expensive, but in general, I don’t have one with me in Russia, and I’ve been wanting to get one here anyways.
So that was basically all of Saturday, and Sunday, we again had a bit of a walking/bus tour which wasn’t as long.
We did stop by this place which had wooden architecture, and I just wanted to throw this in here because when I was younger I had a dream about a church that looked somewhat similar to this:
It’s not exactly the same, but I just thought it was coincidental to bump into something so similar…..
Two times it’s happened now where Vicky and I weren’t sure when to wake up, so we end up getting up earlier than most everyone else, but the bright side of such a situation is that you get all the good food. (hehe)
The absolute BEST part of Sunday however, was not the bus/walking tour, not even waking up in time to get all the good food, it was heading back to Petersburg. The 2-3 hour drive that it normally would have been turned into a 9 hour drive because of traffic. And THIS is when most of my thinking took place. No joke here, we left Novgorod at 4.10pm and I didn’t walk through the door to my apartment until 1.10am.
We took probably the worst possible route imaginable, which I’m assuming was the main highway between the cities. It seemed to me that everyone on this earth was on that tiny road crawling back to the city. It was a two or three lane road, I believe, with impatient drivers turning it into four lanes, huge trucks blocking everyone, and people turning their cars off and getting out to take a smoke and walk around for fresh air since no one was moving. We moved maybe 10 feet every hour, and the point at which we really got stuck in the traffic was the point at which we were probably about an hour away from the city driving at a normal speed. All of this because up ahead 6 miles, the 2/3 lane road cut down into just one lane.
So what happens exactly when you have a bus full of American students stuck in a traffic jam in Russia for 9 hours? You play games and laugh of course.
Our whole bus ended up playing “Mafia”, which was really fun. Definitely a time killer and entertaining, then some people slept, ate, complained, ate, slept, played other games, slept, etc. It turns out that one bus had already made it back about 9 o’clock or so, and another one of our buses was stuck behind us (we had 3 buses since there’s about 96 students overall).
It was really tiresome, and I’m not sure if anyone from our bus and the other one went to class today. It was just so late by the time we all got home, and our staff member, Irina, seemed very sympathetic. She ended up calling different government authorities to complain about the situation, because, apparently, if you call and complain to different aspects of the government, they will all go to the people responsible for the mess and complain to them. Interesting how things work here.
Anyways, when it was still light outside, before we got stuck in that traffic mess, we ended up passing a lot of smaller cities/towns/villages, and it was kind of nice for me because everyone was asleep and it was just such a peaceful time to be seeing all of these different places.
I thought about a couple different things:
- I’ve realized that I have a desire to visit more places outside of the city. Villages/forests/etc.
- I wonder who lives in those places? All the old, run down homes that are falling apart. Who are those people? What do they do? Why do they have that life? Where do they come from?
- It struck me as ironic that people travel all around the world to visit places like Mt. Vernon (George Washington’s home) or areas around Velikii Novgorod, where you can go to museums and see not only how higher authorities used to live, but also how peasants of the time used to live. It’s ironic because there are people still living like that today. People are still poor and live in old, run down houses without electricity or running water, but we don’t pay any attention to that in our own society because they’re not the same as us. They don’t live in the same houses as us, or have the same wealth. Yet why do we have to travel to a museum to see that kind of life when we still have it?
- Why do people lose interest in life when there’s so much to see and learn? Everything is somehow connected. Don’t you ever wonder who your ancestors were? Where you come from? How did their history lead to your own life and where you are now?
- I wonder how many old women sit on benches outside their homes wondering why their life is the way it is. Why didn’t it become better? Why didn’t it change? Why weren’t they able to see more of the world?
- How many people have bothered to go sit outside and be in nature? Realize that the longer you sit and think and observe the world around you, the more real you become, even just for a few hours. You become much more connected to everything.
- Do people ever think of the history of their countries? Of course most people study that in school, but do you ever think of individuals? The men who have crossed all this land on horseback, building cities, and the women who have worked hard to keep those cities standing from the inside out? All of that for us..
- Do people ever sit and listen to classical music and wonder about the time period the composer was living in? Why were they given such a strong gift of music, and how does that connect us all? Do you ever think about how they may have sat in their rooms writing notes by candlelight as opposed to a lamp for people to listen to centuries later?
- Do people ever think about ANY of these things? Or different things?
Those were basically some thoughts. I realize they may sound ridiculous and not relate to anything, but I just find it interesting to think about older things/people/places.
This is pretty long, but that was my weekend! I hope everyone is doing wonderfully!