St. Petersburg – Final Thoughts

21 09 2008

Warning: This post may be a long one…let’s find out.

My last few days in St. Petersburg went by very quickly.

The main purpose of this trip was really for my mother to reconnect with her old University buddies.  A school reunion if you will.  It was quite cute actually.  10-12 of her closest friends (some that were at her wedding) sitting down over dinner and gabbing over past memories like they are still the school children they are reminiscing about.  It was clearly quite boring for me as I had absolutely nothing to contribute to this conversation.  Instead, I got a cold.  Yep, I got sick cause it’s so cold there! The heating is regulated by the city and is turned on for the city all at once.  It was not turned on yet.  Really. *Sniffle*

The next day, while sick, we took the bus out of town to Pushkin (sp?) where Katherine’s Palace is, and the Amber Room.  The thing about all these palaces in Russia, is that they start to look the same after a while.  Gold, gold, gold and more gold.  Also, they not only charge you an entrance fee to the palace grounds (i.e the park), you then have to pay an ADDITIONAL entrance fee to go into the palace itself. Rip Off! Who wants to walk around the million foot park when its frigid cold outside? Not me, I say. Not me.  Regardless, the Amber Room is really cool.  It was only recently opened in 2003? or was it 2005? to the public after they had finished all the restoration.  Pictures are strictly forbidden in this room as the flash dulls the Amber.  (FYI- Amber is known to have healing qualities!)  Our tour guide (*grumble*) was very Nazi-esque about this, yelling at everyone who even reached into their purse for fear that they would pull out a camera.  She went so far as to snap at an English tourist – even tho she had no idea what she was saying.  I wanted to translate, but then they would know I was a tourist too.  See my previous posts for my its not good to be recognized as a tourist in Russia.

On the Thursday, we went to the Hermitage museum in the morning.  I can’t say I am one to spend a long time in museums.  I tend to walk quickly stopping at only the really interesting things to read the little snippets.  This makes all my museum visits short.  We had a few hours to waste before the ballet gala (yay!) at 7pm.  We ate, walked through more stores.  Since I was still sick, I felt like I was being tortured following my mom through all these endless stores.  7pm could not come fast enough.

Finally, it was time.  What I had been waiting for…the ballet gala! (A ballet gala is a mixture of a whole bunch of different ballets instead of one long story ballet) It was ridiculously wonderful. Like, ridiculous!  This ballet was top notch – much higher caliber than the Swan Lake we saw.  They performed Romeo & Juliet, Esmeralda, Don Quixote (my fav), and more. Also as an added bonus, a lady from Boston was sitting next to us and I finally got to use the English language after two weeks of being partially mute.  Whew.

The day departure was spent mostly for packing purposes, and since we had to wake up at 4am to catch the 730am flight, it was an early night.  On the way home we flew with Air France….on a huge Airbus! It was wicked.  We had seats at the top of the Airbus meaning more leg room and faster service.  Amazing.  Unfortunately, all the movies they were showing I had already seen (thank goodness for my sudoku book)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

  • I missed the sun, and was glad it was shining when I returned.
  • Russians are not particularly friendly – I guess we’re spoiled rotten with kindness in Canada.
  • I need to go on a diet.
  • Even though I am Russian – I am glad my parents made the choice to move to Canada when I was 6 years old.  Seeing what my life could’ve been made me appreciate what I have all that much more.




Compliment? Yes, Please!

13 09 2008

NOTE: This post is pre-dated.

There was a lot of highlights to my day today. 

For one I got told that I look like Milla Jovovich! I’ll take that! Woo! Goodbye Donna from ‘That 70’s Show,’ hello Milla Jovovich!

Second, I met up with a friend that I haven’t seen since I was 12 years old when she visited Canada.  Our realationship started when some of our family friends in Canada required a translator to translate some letters from their Russian relatives.  She was the Russian relative, and we were the translators. 

Katya, who is 26 took me around the town.  We went to a cool museum where we saw weird scientific/medical findings – and whose name I will butcher if I try to write.  We then gabbed like two school girls over Chinese Food.  We are planning on coming over to their apartment for dinner on Monday, so we can see her mom too.

Another highlight – we decided last minute to go to another ballet! We already have tickets for a ballet gala next week too.  We saw Swan Lake.  Surprisingly enough, I’ve never seen it.  Beautiful.  Minus the two girls beside me who would not stop talking. 

I want to be a ballerina.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • Their cell phones seem way prettier than ours.  They also seem to work inside the metro station which is way, way, WAY (like a 5 minute escalator ride way) down.  Stupid Bell Mobility! *grumble*
  • Russia breeds the cutest kids on earth! For real.  They are all blue-eyed little porcelain dolls.  I want one.
  • Most apartments have a telephone booth sized room for a toilet alone.  A separate room with a bath and sink is beside it.  Weird.
  • Am still praying the mullet trend doesn’t reach North America.  Am still too chicken to take a photo of one for personal safety reasons.




I Love Vodka! Vod*hiccup*ka! Vo*slur*dka! Vakdo!

12 09 2008

My feet hurt.  Although I think I’m beginning to hit that traveler’s wall where you can no longer feel your feet and legs, making walking a lot more enjoyable.

We took a boat cruise through the channels here.  The boat accidentally started to leave without us at first.  The tour leader lady starting yelling “Jump! Jump!” Are you crazy, lady?! I’m no Scuba Steve! So, we had to stand there and wait for it to drive itself backwards a few feet to pick us up, as everyone stared at us in disapproval.  Meh, I wasn’t planning on being a stand in for Evil Knievel today.  Anyway, the boat cruise was lovely and as you can guess I tuned out the Russian tour guide and enjoyed the sights.  My mom would  fill me in on the interesting stuff. 

The next morning we went to visit my mom’s cousin.  I remember visiting him all the time in Riga when I was little.  (Riga is in what is now Latvia)  Now he lives mainly in Germany and sometimes St. Petersburg.  He is truly a lovely man and I plan on visiting him in Germany when I’m in Europe again next year.

This was followed by a day of shopping around the flea market where I found myself a gorgeous purse.  Also, McDonalds was frequented today.  Ahh, a little taste of home.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • You like Vodka? So do we.  I now understand.  It’s the only thing that keeps you warm enough through the cold days.  Because there are so many cold days, alcohol is freely bought and drunk anywhere there is a free seat.  Sidewalk included.
  • Want to park? Go ahead, its FREE! Anywhere you can find room.  Side of the road, top of the grass, in the middle of the parking lot.  Doesn’t matter.  Not tickets given!
  • Remember the game “chicken?”  Basically, you stand in front of a moving car and see who “chickens” out of the way first.  If noone chickens, you can imagine the result.  The Russian people play this game everyday of their lives.  Half the crosswalk lights don’t work, and the cars will definitely not even slow down.  I almost lost a toe.







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