I am still alive. I’m sorry for not being totally consistent with posting lately; it’s been a busy week for me over here, so I’ll share some of that with you!
Last Sunday I had the chance to meet up with a friend of a friend of a friend here in Piter. (That sounds kind of confusing, but that’s how it is). Her name is Tamari, and she is actually not Russian, but rather Georgian! We met up and took a bus down to a different city/town named Гатчина (Gatchina), which is south of St. Petersburg. Once there, I was also introduced to her friend Nadia, who was also very nice, and we took a walk through the park, then on to Gatchina Palace! (Which is of course now a museum). My favorite part of visiting all these State Museums is seeing the price on the ticket: бесплатно (free). For students anyways. I actually was unaware of what I would be doing once I met up with Tamari, so if I had known beforehand that we were going to a different city/museum, I definitely would have brought my camera. However, since I did not, all I can say now is that it was exciting to cover yet another museum, practice my Russian, and meet some new people. Unfortunately, it seemed as though that was the absolute coldest day I’ve experienced here so far, so walking around outside for most of it in the evening was not the brightest part of the day, but I am grateful I had the chance to meet them both!
T’was a blasty blast. That’s for sure. Again, I had the chance to meet up with a friend of a friend. Her name is Алёна (Alyona) and she is a current graduate student studying law (wow, right?)- and not just studying, but also teaching it at her university as well. She was a very interesting person to meet up with, and hopefully we’ll have the chance to talk again. We met close to my metro station, and went to another museum: Дворец Меншикова (Dvorets Menshikova or Menshikov Palace). It’s very, very close to where I live, and it’s just right on the water across from the Winter Palace- both which are easy for me to get to. We went on a short tour with a group in the museum, then stopped in Coffee House to get some hot chocolate (wooh!) and chat for a bit. From what I’ve gathered, she grew up and went to school in Kazakhstan, and her family is still there. Her favorite museum is the Hermitage, and when she was in college, she would go there twice a week, and spend the whole day there! That’s crazy…I’m jealous, because I love it there too. Rumor has it though that in order to see everything in the museum you need to go every day for a year…I’m sorry if I sound like a dork, talking about all these museums, but really, it’s not every day you have the opportunity to see things like this whenever you want. But like I said, she’s a very interesting person, I’m practicing Russian practically, so I hope to meet up again!
Friday, Vicky and I meant to go out and do something, but I took a nap after class and didn’t wake up until 1am. So..that was my Friday night. Saturday at 11am, we had another excursion (if you signed up) for the “Siege of Leningrad”. It was really interesting- mainly a bus tour around Piter talking about WWII and when the Nazi’s were taking over the city, although we did also stop by Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery and walk around. It’s a cemetery dedicated to the victims of the siege, and since so many people died, they were placed in mass graves, the only thing distinguishing them is the year and whether or not they were military or civilian.
After this tour, Vicky and I finally actually went into Kazansky Sobor (the Kazansky Cathedral) after being here for over a month and walking past/through it who knows how many times. It’s so beautiful inside- as are all the churches and cathedrals here. There is also a painting of the Romanov family as saints, which I’ve seen on the internet before, but had no idea it was there.
Really pretty, right?
When we finished looking around here, obviously the next task was finding food, so I took a suggestion from my former roommate and we went to a restaurant next to the Cathedral called Пироговое Дворик (Pirogovoe Dvorik). Nomnomnom tasty. Thanks Abra!
After this, we headed over to Дом Книги (Dom Knigi; aka a bookstore on Nevsky), and I really, really couldn’t help but buy a book! It’s bad! Someone needs to restrain me whenever I go into a bookstore. It would be my first option as a home..But anyways, I bought a book by Leo Tolstoy called Family Happiness (it’s one of his shorter stories), which I’ve already read in English, so I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to try to read it in Russian since I already know what it’s about. Kind of cheating? For all the time I’ve spent learning Russian, I should have better confidence in my ability to understand things, but for some reason I’m horrified of reading. What’s the right strategy for reading in another language? Do you just read it and pay attention to the general context? Or do you look up every word you don’t know? But if you do that, then it’s hard to focus on the actual story…Ah, I have no idea. But, I did dare to take a glance at Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” in Russian- horrifying! Until I started to read a page and realized I actually understood what I was reading. It’s a good feeling, but it would be hard to lug that book all the way back to America.
Next stop: Galeria. The mall. It is a super huge mall on Nevksy, that also could probably pass as a large museum, with so many stores! So, so many stores, so much food- they even have a T.G.I.Friday’s in there! Random?! I would say so. Everything is a sight-seeing experience here, that’s for sure!
Our last stop for Saturday was grabbing a drink in SPB and talking about missing Portland. Which is very, very true. When I think about it, I believe Stage 2 has hit me of study abroad (missing everything). But staying on the positive side is necessary!
I’m sorry this has been pretty long (as usual), but I’ve done quite a bit of sightseeing this week. I do miss America, and everyone there! I still hope this blog is interesting to you all, and I can’t wait to catch up with you! I’m also trying to keep my photographs updated as best I can. I’m not a professional, but I do put them up!