Friday, November 28, 2008

Stairs and Hopefully the most Adventful Thanksgiving of my life!

On Nov 26th in the morning I fell/rolled down a flight of stairs and smashed my head into the metal railing. I went to the clinic on campus and the cleaned me up. I had gauze on my nose and over my eye.

The Resident Director and I agreed that I might have a concussion and should go to the international clinic/hospital. I got an appointment for 6:30 Wed night. When I got there they re-looked at my injuries on my head and decided that the one over my eye (on my eyebrow near the bridge of my nose) needed four stitches.

***getting stitches in Russia***
I had to lie down on a table and was cover with gauze. Then the nurse put guaze over under my head. The doctor and nurse then put on surgical masks and head coverings. The doctor then told me to close my eyes because the light would be bright. He then proceeds to turn on a surgical light. They then placed a piece of cotton over my eyes and a sheet over my face except where he would be stiching.
then they started stitching!

I then saw a neurologist, who determined that I had a concussion and wanted to do an MRI of me, but the MRI couldn't be until tomorrow. But then he decided that he wanted to admit me. This is apparently normal in Russia.

Once I was admitted I could immediately get an MRI. That was fun. However, in Russia you can get the results right away. The technician told me that it was normal.

I eventually (after dealing with the annoying people at reception who wanted $2,000 before I could be admitted --which insurance that I have is supposed to cover every thing without me paying anything up front) was brought to the coolest hospital room I have ever been in.

It had a nice bed, balcony, flat screen TV, mini fridge, and tolitries in the bathroom.

A new neurologist came in later and told me that the MRI was normal and that I should be able to go home in the morning.

Eventually I got dinner.

After dinner, I got 200 ml of saline solution, which kept me up until 2:30 in the morning, because the nurse wanted the lights on. That was the most painful IV I have ever had!

When I got up at 5:30ish, because it is hard to sleep when you can't bend one arm and there is shooting pain. Watched Tv until 9ish when a new head doctor came in and told me that I wouldn't be able to leave until at least the next 200 ml of saline solution had been delivered. She seemed surprised that I wanted to leave.

Got breakfast (which was yummy) and laid around and waited. And waited. And Waited.

Had blood drawn and then an EKG. (which was normal)

Finally at 12:15 a nurse came in and told me to get in the wheelchair and took me to an eye doctor. the eye doctor did a lot of things checking my vision. It appears that I have some old scar tissue next to my left retina that could eventually (with more trauma to the head) cause retinal detachment.

Went back to my room and the head doctor came in again. She told me that I was getting released, because it was a mild case. However, since in russia they usually keep people with concussions for 5 to 10 days i had to sign a "against medical advice" form. Then the eye doctor came back in and wanted to get an ultrasound of my eye (because she hadn't been able to get a real good look at the retina) just to make sure. That turned out normal.

Then I was able to get discharged. Asked the reception to call me a cab. And went downstairs to get the prescriptions (a pain killer and two hefty vitamins). Then waited for the cab. It took almost an hour to get here!!!!

Went back to my homestay, showered and left for Thanksgiving dinner at "The Other Side." It is a restaurant owned by an American expat. Instead of turkey, I got falafels. We had mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, corn, brussel sprouts, I got babganosh (no idea) instead of stuffing, and homemade cranberry sauce. For desert we had a different pumpkin pie with three layers that if eaten together tasted like pie, but without didn’t. It also had almonds in it.

Then went home and crashed!

Feeling a little better today, and have another doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning at 9AM.

See you around the globe!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hermitage and Church

Woke up after the night of no heat to discover a huge snow storm with really big winds! I could see it whipping the snow around outside. And couldn’t see across the street! I had been planning to go to the navy base (on an island) but decided not to based on the oh so lovely weather. However, the heat and hot water were back on. (I think the heat is hot water heat though pipes that are to radiate heat.)

Decided to go to the Hermitage and Alexander Nevsky Monastery instead of an island during a snow storm. Spent quite a few hours at the Hermitage with Casey and Jess. It was snowing when we went in (think pelting ice in your face!).

However, when we got out, it had warmed up and was currently raining. This turns the streets of St. Petersburg into rivers. Literally. We then figured out that our winter boots were only water resistant NOT water proof.

However the Russian Orthdox church service was beautiful. The priest (father? Bishop? Whatever they call them) stood up there and chanted. I think it might have been Psalms or such because every now and then I would hear numbers I understood.

We then waded home to the warm cozy apartments.

See y’all around the globe!

Pushkin’s Apartment

On Saturday we went to Pushkin’s last apartment, for a tour of where he lived and what it was like when he died. The tour guide spoke English, but she gave the tour in Russian for some reason with Katherine translating. It wasn’t that great, but was a cool thing to do. I still don’t understand where people slept without beds in their houses!

Came back to my homestay to discover that I had no heat or hot water. Apparently there had been an accident and they broke the hot water pipe. It was very cold and I slept in three layers that night!

See y’all around the globe!


On Monday November 17th it snowed. I was so happy! I have never lived where it snows before. It didn’t stick, but was soo pretty when it was falling. However, on Wednesday it snowed a lot and stuck all over the place! We think our teacher thought we were crazy because we were so excited about snow! (Out of the 7 people in the class 3 of us don’t live where it snows: Hawaii, Texas and Florida.)
So on Thursday, I wandered around the city taking black and white photos for my “St. Petersburg in 27 Photos Album”

See y’all around the globe!

Beautiful wanderings

Went shopping for souvenirs that I wasn’t able to get on the free day in Helsinki. And found them at the first store I went to, so I literally wandered around the city for about 2 hours. The day was perfect- clear and just a little nip in the air. Stopped by a little famous café that still makes cakes using medieval recipes and got a piece to go for the train. Started to wander back to the city center to go back to the hostel, when it started to rain, so I ducked inside Stockmanns Department Store. It is 7 stories tall, including a a fully stocked grocery store on the bottom level. Didn’t get anything because the cheapest shirt on sale still cost 40 Euros. (or about 50 USD). Went to head back to the hostel and got distracted by sale signs in another store. I ended up buying a pretty long sleeve stripped black and blue sweater dress and two pair of cute socks for only 11.95 Euro.

The train ride back was just as long, but it was made worse by the fact that when I was about to fall asleep, we stopped for customs, so I had to stay awake so that they could look at my face and make sure I wasn’t someone else.

See y’all around the globe!

To Tallinn!

Another early morning because we had to be on the ferry to Tallinn by 7 AM. The ferry was nice. I think it was bigger than some small cruise ships. Not even kidding. I was expecting a little ferry thing where people drive cars on, and a few people walk on, but this was a nine story ship that the bottom three or four layers were car parks, and the rest were shopping centers, restaurants, bars/cafes, and look out points. Four of us made it to the back of the ship and got a table overlooking the water. Which is where we stayed the entire time.

When we got to Tallinn, we walked to meet our tour guide for our walking tour of the old city. It was starting to rain, and my umbrella decided to break completely with two of the little spoke things snapping in half (and when you only have like six, this is not good). So the umbrella was trash and I just pulled my hood up and wrapped my scarf tighter.

We went our guide who was an Australian, who had come to Estonia to study abroad and fell in love and moved back later. He has lived there for 3 years. We was really good, telling us some of the key points, pointing out cool stuff, and telling us little jokes. He pointed out the former KGB headquarters, where the bottom windows were blocked up (scary)! And he told us the legend behind a church: there are two stories, and he let us decide which one was true.

The city of Tallinn was going to build a new tallest church in the world, and they drew up some plans, and then began searching for a builder. But when they started asking around, all the prices were too high.
Then this guy showed up and quoted them a really high price that was 3 times more than they had saved. They were about to turn him away, when he said “But- if you can guess my name before I finish building the church, then you get it for free.” The planning committee was like “Cool. It will take him at least 20 years to build the church and if we don’t guess it by then, we will have at least saved up the money by then.”
So they agreed.
They came back in a few days to see if the guy had at least started surveying the ground and found a wall knee high. So they asked him all the names they could think of off the top of their heads and he answered “NO!” to all of them. So they went home to think and came back in another week and found the wall a little over their heads. Now they started to get really worried, because there was no way they could pay the man anytime soon. So they got a meeting together and wrote down all of the names they had ever heard of both foreign and domestic, biblical and fairy tales. They went back the next day and the wall was even higher than before. They read all of the names out of their list and the answer was still no.
The committee didn’t know what to do. That was all the names they had ever heard of. So they just anxiously watched this man single handedly build the tallest church they had even seen in the shortest amount of time. Finally, someone had the brilliant idea to have him followed. And they sent and errand boy to follow him home one night. The next day when the man left to go to work (the church was almost finished) the boy peeked in and saw the mans wife holding a crying baby and heard her say “Its okay, sweets. Alfanaso (or some other weird combination of alfanso sounding name) will soon finish and we will have food.” Since the boy had never heard this word before he ran back and told the committee, who raced over to the church and saw him about to put the steeple on. Therefore, they yelled up to him “Hey Alfanaso! It needs to go to the right a little!”
The man was so shocked that they had found out his name when he was so close to finishing that he fell off the church and landed at their feet. He died, but something strange had happened- (it was either that he burst into bats or some other “dark” creature).
It was then that they knew that hey had made a deal with the devil.

The other story is:

They wanted to also have a lookout over the harbor as well as a church, but only had enough money for one building.


After we finished the tour, Kristin and I went to the Occupational museum that cover the time since the Soviets, Nazis, and Soviets again occupied their country. And boy do they hate the Russians. That museum, while was probably based in fact at some point was basically propaganda against those Godless, awful, killing machines that happen to be called Russian. I mean in three years that Hitler was there, he killed about the same amount that the Soviets had in their first occupation, but they still worshiped Hitler and some even joined the army. It was interesting to see their view of the occupation, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was a little theatrical.

Finished the museum and walked back to continue souvenir shopping but on the way ducked into the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and Lutheran Church nearby. The cathedral was beautiful as always, and had some neat icon mosaics. The Lutheran church was just amazing. They had this old tradition that when the wealthy would die, they would make a death shield to carry in the procession and then hang in the church. They were AWESOME! I mean I jus stood in the middle of the church and twirled a few times trying to take it all in. There was also a lady practicing a musical program and there was only me (and Kathryn) in there, so it was like a private concert.

Kathryn and then wandered around and saw some other people, and got a few good shots of the city at night. We stopped in “Olde Hangas” restraint where we got yummy tea. I asked for hot chocolate, but the lady said “Oh sorry, but back in the day we ere a very unhappy people and we didn’t have chocolate.” That is literally the coolest way anyone has ever told me that they don’t carry something. After leaving we went “fake shopping” which involved Katherine trying on these weird hats fostered on her by the shop owner because she tried on one hat. One of them was red with three little pom-poms on it that she said made her look like a court jester. Then the owner tried to get her to buy a hat/scarf combo that you wear as a hat and it wraps around like a scarf because it is so long. We then wandered around the lower city for a while and stopped in a little café for hot chocolate because we were freezing again and had about an hour to kill. We met up with Anna (a girl in my class). Then Kathryn got a call from one of the boys that had missed the bus and decided to stay in Helsinki, that he had just got kicked in the face and wanted to go to a hospital to make sure that his nose wasn’t broken. (He ended up being okay, it was just some random act of violence. He tried to get around a fight that was breaking out, but someone got caught in the middle of it).

The ferry home was still big, but not as nice as the one there. But it did have a supermarket for alcohol, candy, and small food stuffs. Anna found a cool bottle in a shape of a horse!

Went out to a karaoke bar when we got back and let me tell you Finnish is not a pretty language to listen to in songs.

See y’all around the globe!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Museum, Fortress, and Shopping!

Started off the day going to the free Helsinki City Museum which told one about the history of Helsinki from the stone age through both the Swedish and Russian rule to modern day independence. It was very interesting. I spent about 2 hours there just wondering around. They had a lot of good information in English.

Then wondered down a Street Museum (that marks the different time of Helsinki by what the streets would look like). And wondered around the market square around the ferry, and then was able to watch they ferry leave without another departure for another hour. So I went back to the hostel and dropped off the cool purchases.

Took the ferry to the Fortress called “Summolinia” or essentially Fortress of Finland. I wandered around the main street, which takes you from one side of the island to another. They have a cool Orthodox-converted-into-Lutheran-Church (which means when the Russians were here they made a Orthodox, but when the Finns took over they changed it into their faith Lutheran). I took a few self-portraits (which involved setting the camera on self-timer and running- which would have looked funny had I seen anyone else around me!) Then as I continued wandering, I encountered the main museum, which I went into. It had a lot of really good information on the history of the fortress. I also got to watch a video about the formation of the fortress both a professional one and a 6th graders video. The 6th graders was so cool: they had mad sheep and cut out puppets that made the sheep mad. (the sheep could save people and through them over from one island to the other).

When I left and continued wandering I found about 6 to 7 other people from our group, this was right after I had just thought “Man I thought a lot of people were coming over here, but I haven’t seen anyone from our group!” We continued to walk around what they termed the “Shire” (Lord of the Rings reference I believe). We then found a really relaxing place that we just sat at and looked over the sea for about 20 minutes.

After taking the ferry back, we went to Hesburger. The Finnish equivalent to Burger King (I say this instead of Micky D’s because their fries tasted better than MD and they had a VEGGIE BURGER!!!). It was really delicious. Then we went shopping at H&M, a cool store that exsists in some major cities in the US. I didn’t get anything.

Went back to drop off everyone’s purchases and then went out to the AussieBar. It was really cool inside with posters that said things like “These are my boys. Service brought to you by the descendants of criminals.” Or “Exiled for killing sheep. Service brought to you by the descendants of criminals.” We wanted to get a poster, but they weren’t for sale.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To Helsinki!

Got up around 5 Am to leave for the train journey to Helsinki with AIFS. I had to meet them at the train station at 6:30 AM. But I got breakfast before I left.

The train journey was long (think almost 7 hours) and 1/3 of that was spent sitting at customs on both sides of the border. Besides the car getting hot it was relatively easy at customs.

When we got to Helsinki we met our tour guide for our city tour by bus and got to see all of the main sights. The rock church, senate square, Olympic arena, opera halls, Only orthodox church. It is a very pretty modern city. The bus dropped us off at the hostel, and Casey and I then went to the post office to mail souvenirs home so that our suitcases would close (and the packages would make it home from Finland not Russia). Then we met up with people for a expensive dinner at a Nepalese restraint (think 7 dollars for less than a cup of tomato soup). Nepalese fare is curry.

Then we went back to the hostel (no more than a 10 minute drive by trolley) dropped off our bags and went back out to DDR (Dance Drink Revolution) to hang out.
Oh- and every one speaks English and is NICE!!!

Yusoprov, All Night and Nutcracker on Ice

I was going to get up early this morning and go get some last minute shopping done before I went to Finland, but accidentally said “9 o’clock” instead of “10 o’clock” (devit or decit in Russian). But it was fine since the shops were closed when I got there anyway. Today AIFS went to the Yusoprov Palace and I just met them there. This is the palace where Rasputin was ‘murdered’. The inside of this palace is beautiful. I could totally live here. Everything was tastefully done and just wonderfully beautiful. I took about 100 to 200 photos of the inside of this palace.

I say ‘murdered’ here because they tried to poison him with cyanide but he didn’t die, so they took him to the cellar and shot him three (or more) times and left him to die and went back up and partied some more. But when they came back down to check on him he had dragged himself out into the courtyard to escape so they wrapped him in a rug and threw him in the river where he drowned.

Went to a little Irish pub for lunch and had yummy cream of broccoli soup. Then went home to rest because I wanted to go out all night. It is possible to get caught in the center of the city because the metro stops running and the bridges are drawbridges which are raised every night. We left the dorms around 11:30 ish and got down into the center about an hour later. However we did not stay out because one of the guys had a headache and left, which put the other people I was in a group with in a bad mood and no one wanted to stay out. So we walk along the main street looking for a descent cab ride home before the bridges are raised. We finally find one guy who will take all 5 of us and he rushes through the city at a mad race only to be stopped at a raised bridge. I look out the window and see that the bridge time says 2:45AM as when it will be lowered again. I look at the watch and see that it is only 1:50 AM. We all start laughing at the stories we will be able to tell people when we get home. We ask the guy if he can take us back to a café so we can at least wait somewhere with hot drinks, but he says that 2:45 is the latest that they can keep the brigde open, but they usually close it around 2 ish. So we decide to wait and take kopeck bets on when it will close. Josh is the closest with 2:22 (it was 2:21). We get back to the dorms and sneak past the old snotty woman at the end of the hall. And I sleep in the extra bed in their room and go home around 9AM.

I then had to get up to go the Nutcracker on Ice at 3 pm. That was good, there were two parts: one was a different version of the nutcracker and the other was like a recital. It was good- they were all teenagers. The second half was very …interesting. Not good, but not bad, just kind of different. It consisted of a Russian folk show on ice, a circus, and freaky alien dance. But I got popcorn and all was good.

See y’all around the globe!

Weekend of Crime and Punishment

On Saturday, we had classes because Monday and Tuesday are federal holidays and the schools will be closed. So the government/college admin decided to have language classes on Saturday. It was okay, just kind of sad going to classes (not so) bright and early. And the weather was horrible. However, we did get to show of teacher Dr. Seuss.

That was entertaining. One of the girls in my class had “Oh the Places You’ll Go” with her. Victoria (my teacher) saw a typical Dr. Seuss animal (large green furry thing sticking up from a manhole) and said it was a mix between a hippo and a giraffe. Later on as she is reading it, she says, “This is so happy. Why?” And we tried to explain to her that children books are supposed to be happy and uplifting.

Then I asked her if there were any happy Russian movies. Or movies that had happy endings. She referred me to Soviet movies where at the end the boy and girl would have steadfast faces, looking brightly to the future. She said if you are happy that means that you are satisfied, and if you are satisfied then you won’t work to improve your life. While that makes a little more since, than they just don’t like happy endings. Even if it stinks higher than Heaven.

After class, we had an optional walking tour with Misha to go to Dostoevsky’s house and neighborhoods of Crime and Punishment. To was freezing and only 7 of us went (which turned out to be a good thing). By the end of the tour we couldn’t feel feet (in side our winter boots). We started off right when we got off the metro at Sennaya Ploshchad (which means Hay Square- and you guessed it, it was essentially a hay-market back in Dostoevsky’s time in the slums. This would be where the main char of C&P confessed to the murders. It is also, where he wanders around for a good part of the book. Misha then told us that this is still not a good area to be in after 10:30 PM.

He then took us to a bridge over the canal with the most turns in St. Pete where more action happened. Then he showed us where Dostoevsky lived when he wrote Crime and Punishment and where the main character lived in his books. We can find these places because he gave actual addresses in the book. We were able to go into the courtyard of the main character’s house due to a kind babushka who let us in. Then we went to see where Sonya (the main woman char of the book) should have lived based on descriptions.

We stopped a few times for Misha to explain some good history things about St. Pete (like there was a decree saying that you couldn’t build higher than 3 stories & if you had black on your house you had a higher tax). We then went to the house where he killed the old woman, and where he hid the goods. Apparently in the staircase that they call in memory of the main character, people write little memos to the main character (like “Theres another old woman” or “Good job man”).

Then Misha wanted to show us a different side of St. Pete that you don’t usually get to see. Apparently for the 300 year anniversary of the city, the city spruced up the outside of buildings. He had stopped us in front of a beautiful building, bright colors and pretty white carvings. Then we went inside. In the US the building would have been destroyed, or if it wasn’t destroyed then it would have not allowed anyone to live here or even come in. I’m sure some of the walls were still damaged from WW2. We didn’t want to touch anything, and then Misha made sure to tell us not to touch anything (which when a Russian guy is telling you not to touch something, it is bad).

But people still lived here. He then took us to another like building, but this one was slightly nicer, not much, but slightly. There are either multiple families living in one half of a floor, or one family living there. I’m also sure that some of these people got these apartments in 1991 as well.

After the walking tour, we defrosted in a little café (that wasn’t that good drink wise but had a really yummy croissant with chocolate inside. After that Teremok (blini stand), and I tried to get a real food blini and they just don’t do those good. I like the sweet blinis of cabbage blinis better.

Went back to the dorms and ended up talking to Kori for about an hour, since we hadn’t hung out in a while. I wanted to recommend some places to her in Prague.

There was sun! This is a big deal.

We went to Dostoevsky’s last apartment, where he died for a tour. It was cool. They had refurbished everything how it would/could have been in his time there. He was surprisingly a good father (one has to wonder with the uplifting messages of his books). But he smoked 50 strong cigarettes a day. He died of emphazema (SP?). And his wife later died of lung problems.

After the apartment, a few of us went to a local church and got to see part of a wedding ceremony in Russian Orthodox. It was neat, never thought I would get to see that. The church was also really cool. There were beautiful paintings sill preserved and frescos.

Next we went to a little market that the Katherines had told us about. And it was okay, but really expensive. They did have more exotic things that the regular supermarkets.

When I got back to my stop I went to Karusel (carousel) because they have good prices and a cheap card to get cheaper prices. And they are within walking distance of my homestay.

After dinner, I went back to the dorms where we were having a late Halloween party for ourselves and to show other international students what Halloween was all about. Someone had made cider and popcorn and little sugar cookies. It was really fun. I went as a nesting doll. We also had the KGB, Euro Trash, a mummy, a Pharaoh, a Christmas lamp, a cat, Sally (? The girl from The Nightmare before Christmas)and people just wearing masks. It was a really good time.

Was spent enjoying my day off by relaxing and watching movies in Russian. I am planning on going to see the new James Bond this Thursday to see Bond in Russian (I mean it was partially filmed here, so we have to go see it right?).

Tomorrow, I want to try to go out to the naval base here to see the cool cathedral and where lots of important things happened. We also have an opera tomorrow night. It is “Eugene Onegin” by Pushkin (well, he didn’t write the opera, but you get the idea).

See y’all around the globe!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


All this at once because when one doesn't have interent or a computer for a while it is had to mantain a blog. It is also hard to keep a blog going or get back in the swing of things when you have to update like 8 days at once. However, finally got everything together and written out in a computer format and was able to publish quite a bit today at Subway. (the only places with free internet are American corperations operating in Russia- we have become thankful for Capitalism!)


On Sunday night (which the clocks changed for those of us in Russia), we went to a Philharmonic concert conducted by Urii Temipkahov and they played from Romeo and Juliet and Tchaikovsky. It was pretty and lulling. It was very soothing to listen to the classical music.
And our clocks changed on Sunday...which made it interesting when I realized that the US clocks didn't change until next weekend. Good thing I didn't have anything scheduled!

See you around the globe!

Weird Collection of …gross things.

Peter the Great claimed he was trying to fight superstition by gather a collection of weird things together to show people that superstition was not at fault. However, I just think the guy was off his rocker in more ways than one. I mean what ruler of a country would create the very first museum in a new “European style Great” city for preserved fetuses?

Which is what the “strange collection” consisted of. Not a large variety of odd and eclectic things as the guide books say but shelves and shelves of misshapen fetuses in formaldehyde. And to make it worse, they were painted had some of them had glass eyes.

However, the rest of the museum was kinda cool and the Globe was awesome! As a wedding present for someone, he ordered this globe that you could climb into and watch the “night sky” go around. It was pretty neat.

After wards, We went to The Idiot for lunch-dinner. Then we went to a market that everyone had said was “scary” and “confusing” and “horrible”.

I think they are crazy. It was none of those, but only cool and interesting. No one was mean like Moscow, and no one tried to make us get things like other places in St. Pete.

Menchikov Palace

Went to the Menchikov palace today. It was really cool. All the rooms were set up in the fashion that would have been in Peter the Greats time. (Which was when the guy lived. He apparently really wanted to be in the Royal family and this worried the people so he was found a traitor of the state and exiled to Siberia) Afterwards, wandered around the city buy most of the last of the Christmas and Souvenirs that I needed to get. (Did you know that out of the 5 shops I went to, not one of them had sweatshirts?)

Through Moscow to St. Petersburg

Had to get up really early because our train left at 7:30. It was fine, although much more crowded this time than on our way there.

On the train I saw something that showed just how cold it will be: There was front on the ground. In October.

Once in Moscow, we took the metro and went to the train station that we were leaving though that night to leave our luggage at a “Left Luggage” area. We then headed to the market by our hotel in Moscow, because they had the best prices on souvenirs. We ended up getting everything we needed to get there, instead of going to another shop on the other side of town.

We decided to go to the contemporary history museum. It was awesome. If you are every in Moscow, you need to go to this museum. (However, if you don’t speak Russian, you should get the audio guide. They do have a sheet in English that tells you about the room.) Haley and I tried to decipher everything. It went from tsarist times to Putin. They had a large collection of clothing and artifacts. Closer to our times they had a really cool map of the world according to Regan. It made us burst out laughing. Then the stuff about Putin and the oil companies was interesting. I think there was a door from the “white house” when Yeltsin attacked it. It had shattered glass and a sign on it that said “Journalist go to the 7th floor”

That killed five hours, without us even realizing it. We then went to dinner at a Lebanese restraint and had extremely lovely falafels. However, that only took about 1 hour. And we still had quite a few until our train left.

We were going to g back to the train station and get tea and coco there, but the metro was scarily packed out into the street so we decided to wait until after rush hour. We went to a “Coffee House” (its name) and got tea, hot coco, and ice cream. We then left to go back to the train station around 8ish for a train that left at 10:20.

Safely got there, got our luggage and waited. Then we finally got on about 10 minutes before the train was scheduled to leave. There was a sports team on there (our guess would be basketball, because they were all taller than Haley and I – that means over 6 feet).

We arrived safely in St. Petersburg and made it home in order to eat breakfast and go to bed.


Got up early in order to get to Suzdal around 10. Based on what the receptionist had told us, breakfast began at 7 AM. Got there are 7:15ish and realized she had lied to us and it started at 7:30. But it was yummy, so it is okay.

Left in the pouring rain to go to the bus stop to buy our tickets to get to Suzdal, and got there in time to catch the 8:30 bus. (Which turned out to be little more than the minibuses that run around the city) We decided to go to the convent first, and hit the Kremlin on our way back through town. However, what was marked on the map as a path was considerably less than what either Haley or I considered an actually path. It was little more than where the rain should go down a hill to get to the river.

It had stopped raining by the time we got there but there was mud everywhere. The convent was pretty, but because we couldn’t take any pictures, and it wasn’t that great. The long journey through copious amounts of mud should have deterred us. When we finally made it back to the Kremlin, Haley had decided that by this point she didn’t really care to go in. But since it was the main reason we had come to Suzdal, I convinced her to at least try to go to the Prison Museum (I mean who wouldn’t want to see a prison in a monastery?!?!)

It took a while to figure out the tickets, because we didn’t know the word for prison in Russian and they didn’t know it in English. However, we did get in and saw it. It was pretty cool. It was a lot more spacious than what we would have considered for a prison. It had information on famous people who had been interred there (most of which we didn’t recognize). But they did have info on the Gulags of Stalin. There were a lot of them, literally all over the country.

By this time we had defrosted a little bit and wandered back to the center of town, where we went to a restraint that served local mead. Neither of us had ever had mead so we decided to try it. Haley liked it, but it was too sickly sweet for me.

Haley then decided that she was too cold to go to the other museum that I really wanted to go. (one about Peasant life and wooden architecture) This was because she had not brought or bought a winter coat and just had a light weight jacket on, no scarf or warm shoes.
So we went back to the bus stop and bought tickets home. This time it was a charter bus. Got back and settled into the hotel. Haley took a nap as I did homework. We then ordered dinner from the restraint to be brought up to the room. For dessert we had ginger and green tea ice cream.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


We got up pretty early and ate breakfast at the Hotel Restraunt and then we went to explore, thinking it would take longer to get to places that it actually did. We have cool pictures of the first Catholic Church we found in Russia.

At 10 AM, we went inside the Golden Gates (that used to guard the city and are now just the center of a pretty roundabout. Inside there is a really cool miliraty museum, which only cost 15 roubles (or about 60 cents) to get into. It had lots of colthes and stuff from the Mongol invasion and then stuff from the communist era, including lots of cool propaganda posters. When we were almost done, the lady came up to us and told us that the diaroma was working and that we could go watch it in English. Which we did and it was cool. We learned about the "gallant" defenders of Vladimir that fought a "despert (sp? cant get spell check to work)battle" on every street.

Then we went to the Old Vladimir Exhibition in the water tower (that once was a water tower but now is not). It was so cool. THey had tons of stuff from the 1920's and before.

Next came the Family exhbit in the old Regional Duma. They had lots of wedding items and pictures. It was cool. There were old bassonets and posters.

We then went into the Church (don;t remember the technical name) and saw the coffin of Alexsander Nevsky (important person in Russian History).

All of this was under 1 USD.

Then had tradition russin lunch (chicken Kiev and veggies, and blini).

Suviner shopping and getting nighttime cold medecine at a drug store. It was thereflu! I had been fighting a cold for a while and it cumulated while on vacation of course! The lady was very nice even tho we didn't speak a lot of Russian.

That night was spent watching Russian TV and enjoying the cheapest pot of tea: 4 roubles for 6 cups.

See you around the globe!

Monday, October 20, 2008

When we couldn't have accomplished less if we tried to

Casey and I started off the day with the lovely filling breakfast in the hotel dining room, and then went to the market nearby with Lauren. In the market, we must have obviously looked like American tourist, because the people would shout to us in English and they tried to grab Lauren and drag her into a booth. This resulted in me taking Lauren by the hand and telling the guy yelling at us in English that we don't speak English in Russian. Other than that it was a pleasent experience. This market had the cheapest nesting dolls that e had ever seen.

After the martket we went back to the hotel and packed up our bags, left them in the left luggage room and went with Scott to try to go to the Romanov Chambers (which showed how the romanovs lived before they became Tsars) and then to Gorky Park.

However, once we got to the Romanov Chambers they were closed with a sign saying "There are too many guest in the museum now, come back at 3pm" So we decided to go on to Gorky Park. Gorky Park is supposed to be a cool amusment park with lots of old statues of Communist leaders. In other words, it is supposed to be busy and fun.

It was dead. There were literally 4 other people in the park besides us. Only four. And no statues.

It was so funny at the time, we have awesome pictures of the "crowded" amusment park. And we spent about 10 minutes just laughing at the state of affairs of the park.

We then went to a really yummy mexican restraunt where I got totally delcious burritos. I then left to go meet Haliey to go to Vladimir by train.

We gave ourself plenty of time at the train station to figure things out and that was good, because the directions of the lady at the information booth were wrong. She said don't go through the gates, but we had too. It took us about 45 minutes to navigate the train station due to no signs and false directions (i think the directions just lost something in translation).

The train was nice. We were in 3rd class, which is basically just benches were you sit, but no one was in our "bench area" but us, so we got to relax.

Two and a half hours later: We arrived in Vladimir and tried to find our hotel, following the sign that the hotel had up. Which was wrong. So we went as I had memorized from Lonely Planet. That was right, but the street (karla Marka by the way) looked like a scene from a bad horror movie. *clears throat and begins in creppy story telling voice* It was after dark during the rainy season in Vladimir when two young ladies went down Karla Marka. There were very little street lights, and almost no sidewalk. It was still raining as the girls lugged their bags up the hill. The cars would slow down as they passed the girls, who hoped this was to not splash them with the water.*

All was safe and we found our hotel just find, and the hotel was nice and clean and quaint. They lady checking us in was nice and helpful.

Tomorrow we will explore Vladimir.

See you around the globe!

Friday, October 17, 2008

When I got to see a famous dead guy in the flesh...

So we went to Lenin's Masoleum this morning. It was creppy. There are like 20 guards in the dark, subterrianian building. Where you are not supposed to talk or put your hands in you pockets. So you enter the building and take a while for you eyes to adgust, and then !BAM! you yturn a corner and there is Lenin the mummy. It was very erry. I men try to picture George Washington laid out dressed up and still looking fresh. But even that picture does not descrube the creppy-ness. It is just weird. Then we got to walk past Salin and other USSR leaders and famous Russian (like the first man in space).

We then had a guided tour of the Kremlin. The Armoury museum is amazing. They have the largest collection of old carraiges, and British table wear. They also have tons of cool things from way back when like dresses and crowns and faberge eggs. They even have the Swedish King's personal bible that Peter the Great got when he made him run in a surprise atack. It took forever in this museum, we spnt like 4 or 5 hours here listening to our guide talk. It was very informative, but he did expound a little much on some things.

We then got to go see the old Churchs in the Kremlin (which in Russian is spelled Kremli-not sure how we got an "n" on the end) and got to see the 2nd larget bell in the world and a big canon.

And by the way- you are not allowed to take phos of FSB agents wh guard the street in the Kremlin. They call you over and make you delete the photo. Yes, this did occur. I thought "hey it willk be cool to ge a pictur of him wih Medleve's office in the back" It was, but I didn't get to keep the picture, I mean it does mke since you know kinda like you wouldn't want pics of a CIA agent on line-but didn't think of that before)

We went to Sbarro for lunch since it was close, and they had a retty good buffet. Then we explore "GUM" for a while. (the expensive store area that used o be a state department strore) And we went to a circus.

the circus was AWESOME! (well excpet the prts with animals, which I left during as not to see the abuse heaped upon them by the evil whipmaster. But the parts wih the acrobats and dncing people and clowns was totally cool! I got these dogunt things there that tasted just like Cafe Du Monde beginets.

First Train Ride...

So last Friday t 11:59pm Moscow Time I boarded my first ever train ride. It was an overnight to Moscow from St. Pete. They gave us little cookies and had our beds all made up (and there were instructions in English).

We arrived in Moscow around 8AM and went to a cafe for yummy blinni with "cottage cheese" (sweet cheese). Then took a bus tour of Moscow.

Places we stopped and got out: Red Square, Novedomchimy (sp?) Convent and Cemetary (where Yeltin and Kruchev and Golgol and others are buried), A Caherdral that Stalin tore down and then the Federation rebuilt (the one that Stlin planned to build the Palace of Soviets on, and was also a pool- in which I guide had swum), Lookout over the city

Places we drive by: Old wall of Moscow, Stalin's Sisters (skyscrapers), where the Olympics took place, FSB headquaters, new business district, random buildings and neighrbor hoods iun Moscow.

On our way to the hotel, we got stuck in a 2 hour trffic jam. We got to listen to 1990's pop music mixed in with Russian Techno (for the 5 of us that stayed awake on the way there.

That night a few of us went out to Hard Rock Cafe Moscow, where I got a YUMMY veggie burger that I literally inhaled in less than 15 minutes. It was heaven on earth (says the girl that protein has been in the form of eggs or PB for 2 months). Got some suviners and walked around Arbat Street. Then we went on an adventure to iscover what this cool looking building was, but got distracted by flashing lights for a while.

I got a cup of hot cocoa that was actually hot cocoa not melted chocolate. Then some little snotty kid tried to steal it from me in the street. Not even kidding, he rn up to us (a group of 5: 3 boys 2 girls) and started yelling at me in Russian and tried to grap my hot cocoa. I yelled back "Net" and we walked really fast away from him. Interesting experience, we laughed bout it for a few minutes, as we glanced back at him like "What was that about?"

Found the building (it was an aprtment building) then we found the "white house" or the Russian State government building tha Yeltin stood on a tank in front of and bombed later. We got some pictures and then continued to make jokes about how that is where Putin's tiger cub (hat he got for his bday) got to run around freely (and that is what happens to political prisioners :] )

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

multiple days

Sorry this is soo long...have a limited amount of wifi at mickdonalds and didn't have this typed outbefore I came here :) will next time

love to all

Went to the Political History museum. It covers from 1917 to Sputnik era. It was a really cool exhibition that was in the house of Nick the 2nd’s mistress (the house was built by two other grand dukes. It had a lot of Lenin’s personal belongings and different things from the 1917 Revolutions. It then moved on the “Atrocious War” or the battles between the Red and White armies soon after the Bolsheviks took over the government. After that there was an area dedicated to how horrible Stalin was and what he did to people. They had interesting Communist posters (even ones that you could buy). After the museum Rachel and I went to Peter’s Cabin (the oldest building inm St. Petersburg). And when they say that Catherine the Great “inclosed the building in brick” they literally mean that give a space of 4 feet, they placed another house made of brick over the old cabin.


Moved into the homestay with Rita in the poring rain. Got settled in and then she showed me around the area. There are three grocery stores near buy.

Rita made me a GINORMAOUS omelet for breakfast and provided nesquick, apple juice and yogurt. It was sooo good. At 5pm, AIFS went to a hockey game (SP vs. Moscow: 4 to 1) The game was really cool. You can’t bring food from the food court into the game and the riot police enclose the other teams happy fans. And these fans (on both sides) were like gigantic student sections at college football games: they were loud, and very very excited (with organized chants and a drum and huge flags!). Since we won, I got a scarf. Walking back from the metro for the first time in the dark was fine, not even really scary.

Had lots of fun adventures trying to get train tickets for Haleigh and I for break when we are going to Vladimir and Suzdal. Was going to try to find internet then brave the Russian train station, but decided to trade our return tickets first. Which was fun because what Katherine told us to look for was not there. Finally got those exchanged and then went looking for internet, but realized that once I had it would be too late to go to travel agencies. So I went to a travel agency instead. That was fun. They couldn’t buy the Moscow-Vladimir-Moscow ticket because it is a fast train and you can only get those at the train station. So the agent gave me a typed piece of paper in Russian telling the ticket agent what I wanted to buy. However, they were able to get the return train ticket from Moscow to St. P. However, we do have to stay an extra night in Vladimir due to the train schedule (have not tried to call the hotel to extend our stay yet). Now I am using wifi at micky D’s in which I got a large fry and small drink for 3 bucks to calm my conscious. The frys taste the same (this really did shock me). I tried to order in Russian and then he gave me a multi language menu and I pointed. When he asked me a question I responded in Russian and he didn’t understand me, so I switched back to English. I really didn’t get why saying “small” in Russian in response to “big or little” in English didn’t get comprehended, but oh well…

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Getting Lost is Half the Fun....

Well, at least today it was. Made a wrong turn as I got off the Metro and ended up walking through a really pretty neighborhood with very high-end shops. The leaves were all changing colors and there were many parks. It was so pretty. Eventually found my way back to the Rumyantsev Manor (which is where I was trying to go). There were three exhibits in the museum: Leningrad during the Siege and Great Patriotic War, Life during NEP (the New Economic Policy in the 1920’s), and the house itself. I started off in the Leningrad area and it was horrifyingly sad the conditions that people had to live in and what they had to eat. But how life went on: they put on plays and symphonies and published books. If you have ever been to a Holocaust Museum that feeling you get when you look at the pictures of the citizens who stayed is overwhelming. They talked about how the scientists created 13 different strains of Vitamin C to help the people live. They had 125 Grams of bread as a ration of food.

The next rooms were about the NEP Era that was much more happy and energetic. There were pretty communist posters with smiling people. Everything was red (go figure). There were a lot of new inventions that they discovered and were able to use. They had cool shoes and clothing from the time period.

The house part only had a few rooms, but they had really cool grand staircases that were newly invented for this place. There was also the biggest mirror of its kind (not sure that there are different kinds, but hey) in St. Pete.

See you around the globe!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Journey to Peter and Paul Fortress

On Saturday, AIFS took us to the Peter and Paul Fortress by metro (yes all 36 of us traveled together on the metro, we didn’t lose anyone either, impressive, huh?). Once we got there, we had to wait for our tardy guide about 20 minutes or so. Then once she showed up she was very rude and snotty to us (which she continued to make jabs at us “lazy Americans” through out the tour). She did provide a lot of very good info on P&PF however. She told us how things were first built, why they were built and so on. She even described the wooden carving over the door (God kicking the magician out of Heaven thanks to Peter the Apostle (who strangely had features just like Peter the Great)). She then took us on a miniature-guided tour of the grounds (from the front entrance to the Cathedral). Then she took us inside the cathedral, which is once again beautiful. Inside there are “war spoils” or at least representations of them (such as Turkish and Swedish flags on the walls).

This is also the burial place of the Russian Tsars. From Peter the Great to the Romanovs. The Russians are fond of reburying someone at a later date. I think half of the graves she told us about included the sentence “And he (she) was reburied here about X years ago from (some country)…” This includes the grandmother of Anastasia Romanov, and the entire royal family (minus two of the bones, which were just recently authenticated) that was killed in 1917. After the tour inside we were free to go wandering in groups of 4 or 5 (based on the type of tickets we had to buy).
I went in a group of 5: Aaron, Scott, Adam, Casey, and I. Some how this is usually the group I end up going exploring with. We went outside and walked on the beach and around the fortress. Then up on the walls to see the Panorama of the Neva (which was beautiful). Then into the History of St. Petersburg in the Commandants house. It was really cool. They had life size representations of different things from the early history of St. Petersburg (which the area was apparently settled before the river was ever here? I didn’t quite understand that sentence). All the way up to 1917ish with different clothes, automobiles, typewriters, dishes, maps, flags, etc. It was actually really cool to walk around inside. We then tried to find the Cosmonaut exhibit but couldn’t and gave up and went to dinner at a nearby Georgian food restaurant.

I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was good. I had a traditional Georgian dish of an egg, butter, bread pastry. It was yummy. It also was somewhat expensive (like $16 dollars for that, water, and tip).

We then came back to the dorms and studied for a little but and then I went to bed.

Oh! I also had ice cream in 50-degree weather (which, yes, that is considered warm here). I did eat it with my gloves on though.

See you around the globe!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

As you can guess, I went to the Church of the savoir on Spilled Blood. It was built on the exact place where Tsar Alexander II was mortally wounded. It is also known as the church that took 20 years to build and 27 years to repair. It is beautiful inside. I was not sure if I was going to buy permission to take photos, but the moment I walked in, I knew I must have pictures of the inside. It is beautiful beyond description. The glass mosaics are wonderful, they depict different scenes from the Bible (I believe). The cover 7,000 square metes in total on both the inside and outside of the church.

When I was buying my ticket I had an Experience. I asked for “billet studentka e video” or student ticket and a video ticket, and showed her my Russian student ID card. I handed her enough for the printed price of a student ticket and picture ticket. She went off and handed me back part of the money and went off again. I looked at the guy who was helping her who had spoken English to the lady in front of me, and he check my ID card and said something to the ticket lady and I realized that she had given me back money that she really needed and I handed it to her. She then gave me the “video” sticker and the ticket stubs. The guy asked for an English handout and she went off angrily to him, but I caught the gist of it “She bought a Russian student ticket, she doesn’t need an English pamphlet!” and he was all “Just give it to her”

Then I went and enjoyed the beautiful mosaics. I was totally walking around jerking my head back and forth trying to take it all in. The pictures barely do it justice. They also have a souvenir shop in the church. I was looking at it. The prices were better than on the street and you were helping to fund the refurbishing of certain area of the church that need it do to visitors. I also totally had to buy my mom’s shot glass in the church. I mean where else besides Russia can you buy a shot glass in a church? (for those of you who don’t know she collects shot glasses).

Outside, I saw a funny sight that I had to take a picture of. Near all the famous old sights you will see people dressed in period costume. The lady outside the church in period costume was talking on a cell phone. I literally laughed out loud in Russia (quickly recovered and went straight faced).

Afterwards I went to Dom Kingi (House of Books) for the first time since I’ve been here. I was looking for Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Gogol for my lit class. But can you believe it they don’t have War and Peace OR Crime and Punishment in English? They have every other book by these authors, but those two. They had it in Dutch, but not English. I went upstairs and almost bought a children’s book for a dollar, but decided I would wait until I could read it and feel more accomplished by understanding more of it.

And I navigated the metro without a map!!!!! Yes this is an achievement. I totally got on at one station, switched to the other one at that same stop, rode to my transfer station, transferred and got on the correct metro home!! It rocked!

We go to Peter and Paul Fortress on Saturday. I hope to explore/eat out afterwards.

See you around the globe!

Meeting with my “babushka”

I met my Host Family today. It is a babushka. I think she is roughly 45 to 50. She is a music teacher to kindergarteners. She works with a lot of special-ed students or students with speech impediments. She has a 23-year-old son who lives at home. He is a dentist, who makes dentures. He gets in to the home around 1 AM or so. He is apparently working a lot lately so that he can get a new car (he has an old Russian one that is “bad” so that he could learn to drive, but now wants a new one- Rita (the mother) doesn’t think he needs one).

The trip back took about 40 minutes total. This included walking to the metro, riding it 2 stations, and then walking to IMOP. Not that bad. The apartment seems to be in a good neighborhood - there are lots of schools near by as well as parks.

She cooked an awesome dinner. It included borscht (yes I ate it, and it ROCKED!) blinli (sp is wrong) [Russian pancakes] with cabbage and cheese inside and potato pancakes. She had also gotten meat to cook before she knew I was a veggi and Jess (who went with me) said that it was really good.

She had her niece there to help translate, because she spoke and understood English, but her niece was much better (she had just finished studying at school). She says she will help correct my Russian and teach me stuff. This is wonderful, because that is what I wanted the homestay to do.

I have access to her kitchen to cook dinner and lunches and stuff. She will cook me breakfast (to be ready at) 8:20 AM because she will then leave for school. That is plenty early enough so that I will still have time to get ready for school and head to IMOP. I will prolly be able to review my Russian or other class info before I head off.

My room is nice. There is a bed/couch thing, closet and piano. It has a balcony that looks towards the university. The view is wonderful. She is on the 12th floor of the apartment building. (It does have an elevator). The building is located on Toreza Prospect near the Ploshchad Muzhestva metro station on the red line (for you Dr. Ely so you can figure out where I actually am). I can take either the metro or a bus to IMOP.

The view from her living room is Wonderful! You can see the entire St. Petersburg skyline, including Peter and Paul Cathedral and the TV tower that lights up.

I will not have internet there, but will have a washer that I can pay for (which is nice, so I don’t have to lug my laundry around). There are apparently grocery stores and other markets close by her house as well.

I am really looking forward to getting to stay with her!

See you around the Globe!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Я живу в Санкт-Петербурге!

So I learned a few verbs today! The title sentence says, “I live in St. Petersburg!” We also learned to read “читать”, to eat dinner (lunch) “обедать”, to eat breakfast “эавтракать” and to do “делать”

As well as the conjugations for these verbs. Apparently the first one we did was irregular, so she had to think of other ones that weren’t as weird.

Also, I go eat dinner with my homestay on Thursday, September 18th at 6pm. They are coming to IMOP (the dorms) to take me to their house. Jess, my fried who is not going to a homestay is going with me. The name listed as the family’s name is “Маргорита Яковлевна Михилина” or “Margareta Yakovlevna Mehelena” So she could be a бабчшка (babushka- grandmotherly figure) or a single mom. I am getting really excited to go. On Thursday, I am going to go buy flowers for her as a welcome gift. (Something you do in Russia)

A few of us our planning our vacation break. At least one other girl and I are definitely going to Vladimir and Suzdal outside of Moscow. There might be one or three others going with us.

See you around the globe!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Novgorod!! Saturday Sept. 13th

We went to Novgorod yesterday by a three-hour bus ride. The countryside was beautiful, even though some of the houses were leaning to one side or totally dilapidated. There were some interesting sights along the way, such as a car wrapped around a telephone pole, or a semi truck back on the side of the road without wheels or a truck that looked like it had fallen off right there and they didn’t know what to do with it. My personal favorite was the chicken house. It was a little house with chicken feet.

Novgorod was pretty but little, the only thing to do there is go do a zillion different churches (okay really like 10 or 13, but how many churches does one own really need?). We did get to hear the history of the place a little. It was the oldest city in Russia, with the oldest surviving cathedral (St. Sophia’s), and the inner Kremlin wall. There were five churches on the other side of the river, including one that it is supposed that if you run around it three times you will find a rich and handsome husband. Some of the girls did do this, it was fun to watch.

We had a hard time finding a place to eat for some of the group members, because there is really only like two places to eat. It was as Charlie said “A true Soviet Town. Lots of pretty parks and monuments, with nothing to eat or drink.” However, we did find two good, cheap food places in the end.

I went souvenir shopping and got a spoon and shot glass. I was contemplating getting some more items, before I realized they were basically fake stuff glued on to something else.

We came back to St. Pete and a few of us went out to eat at the “CCCR” or USSR café on Nevsky (sp?). It was expensive and not so great on food or service. We then caught the metro back and realized that it was doing its last stop at our station. Which we thought we had another 20 minutes or so, but apparently not. But hey, we got back in plenty of time!

See you around the globe!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My First Day That I Got Lost...

So I finally got a little lost in St. Petersburg...

I took the metro and switched to the other line. The ride to switch was interesting, it was like a scary movie. Everything was deathly silent and no one was talking, not even the baby. The stations were empty as well. After I switched stations, and got off the metro and figured my way out. Then I got lost for the first time today. (yes, notice I said first). The stupid Plosnad (or what ever the English spelling of Square is) Svadanya (?) has absoultly NO STEET SIGNS! I figured out what one of the main streets was but not the cross sections. I had to guess on which way to go (this was after I circled the square once).

well, I guessed wrong. I figured this out when I came to a river that was the wrong direction from where I needed to go. So I followed the river to a street that would take me to the Museum that I was trying to get to. Then I was walking along residential streets, or what I would consider residential streets, I got to a cross walk where this lady handed me a wrapped up carrot.

Yes I said carrot, she was running advertisment for a new grocery store, and I didn't realize what she was thrusting into my hand.

I finally got to where I thought I was going and started looking for the museum. Well, Lonely Planet St. Petersburg map, you were wrong. Dreadfully wrong. So I got lost for the second time today. I circled a bloack and realized that I was on the wrong street, so I went back and looked at the map and was standing in front of where it said it would be and was lookingat nothing, so I went around the corner and found the Central Post Office, which I needed to mail a postcard to Mama.

Side note, the post office is amazing! It is totally done up in what would be considered :Soviet Style" or make everything look pretty on the inside and like nothing on the outside. It would totally be worth pictures, if you weren;t banned from taking them, that is. Anyway I wasn't sure if since I was mailing it to the US, if I needed to put it somewhere special. So I went up to a lady and said in Russian: "Excuse me, I don'tunderstand a lot of Russian" and pointed to the card where it said "USA" in Cyrillic, she spoke for a few seconds and gestered back the way I came so I went that way and couldn't figure anything out, so I went in to the litter area where they sell letter type things and said the same thing to the lady, and she asked if I spoke English, when I said yes she said :Go outside and to your right, there are two blue boxes {which I had noticed on my way in} and put it in there"

I felt a litlle stupid, but hey, oh well.

By this time I had almost given up finding the museum, when I looked across the street and saw it (which is where the guide book map said it would be but not the map I pulled out of the guide book. Confusing.

it cost 50 Roubles to get in and it was worth it. The place had some AWESOME stuff, from way back when. Think nomadic tribes and stuff. As well as Egypt and Rome. Most of the museum was devoted to the Christian/Orthodox religion. They had old headdress, clothing, the little things they sway with incense and rosarys. As well as really Renassiance-y bibles with pretty covers. Some of the artwork was easy enough to understand even without being able to read the descriptions. Like the painting with Jesus assending to heaven and a serpant trying to eat him as bodies were being roasted over pits of fire in varying positions beneath a brown line.

They had some pretty graphic stuff, that painting was mild compared to some of the "hell" paintings. They made you go "Do WHAT?" when you saw them.

Off in one room they had a origional model of the Buddhist (sp?) place where you go as a high level Bodhavista before going to nivrana. It was amazing. So pretty, and intricate. The Babushka had to lead me to it, and that was accompined by me following her down a hall and her pointing for me to walk up to it. So worth it.

They also had a Muslim exhbit. Did you know that some branches of Muslim believe in self mutilation? I did not, but was educated by the English language sheet that went with the exhibition. They had the first edition of a rare copy of the Quran (sp?) Holy Book, it was from 1905.

Then near the exit they had a little exhibit about the Masonic Architechs (thank you Google, when I got back to look up the symbols.)

I then wandered around outside to go get pictures of some cool locations and walked down Nesky Prospect (by the way are you supposed to be able to feel your twos and fingers? Because I sure couldn't) I was looking for Dom Kingi and english language bookstore that would sell Russian textbooks, that would be helpful in class. I couldn't find it. I was also looking for WestPost to send some letters home.

Welll, didn't find Dom Kingi (apparently they don't believe in signs. I finally found WestPost after a detour into a cafe for a yummy cinnabon-raison roll to sit in the heat and regain feeling in fingers and toes.

(oh did i mention that I got lost for the third and final time looking for WestPost which is at 86 nesky Prospect, but has no sign until you come upon it, and the sign is at foot level?)

It cost 220 roubles to send two cards home from Finland (complicated mail system, lets just say that I wanted stuff to actually arrive there).

I then caught the metro home and have stayed inside the dorm since inorder to regain feeling in my extremitiys.

By the way on Thursday Night at 11:07 pm on 11 Sept it is 46 F outside.

See ya around the globe!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Getting a cell phone...

So I got a cell phone today...

that was kind of fun, there were 10 of us (or a few more, not exactly sure). We went to the same place that we had gotton our phone cards from.

To get s SIM card and the cheapest phone they had cost 1, 570 Roubles or ($63) with a $6 credit to call and send messages. Right now I only have our Directors phone number in there, but I will eventually go around and get others numbers.

It took a long time because the SIM cards he origionally gave us, didn't work so he had to give other SIM cards to us. He then activated my phone.

My number is 8(963) 343 59 95

however if you call it is going to cost me 35 Roubles/minte (we think, it could be more) so only call if you really need me.

See you all around the globe...

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Peterhof is absolutely gorgeous! The park is so quite and serene even when filled with tourists. It is huge! We walked form one side to ¾ of the way in about 1 leisurely hour. It is beautiful. There are fountains everywhere! However, most of them are replicas, as are the buildings because Hitler decided to throw a party here to celebrate his taking of St. Pete (before he actually had taken it, and Stalin decided that was NOT going to happen, so he bombed the place himself. Typical soviet ideas, however, some of the statures are original because they buried them to protect them from the upcoming bombing.

And…gasp…it actual got WARM today, not hot, but comfortable in jeans, tank top and sweater. I got to take off my jacket!!! :)

We plan on going to the store tonight so that we can get a few things. I’m planning on getting a pot because the one we have in here puts flakes into your food of whatever is coating the bottom of it, not cool.

I have fallen in love with the peach juice they have here by Cad (? Not really sure if that is the name brand).

We don’t currently have any plans for Sunday, I would like to try to find a Orthodox Church to attend, just to try it out, but not sure how that is going to work out.

See ya around the globe!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Internet Fisaco

So, internet is apparently a promlem here, at least to get it reliablly is. We were supposed to have it last night but, that didn't work at all for half of the group. I think the plug in my room is messed up or something, because my id works on other computers, but not in my room.

Oh well.

We went to the hermitage yesterday and it was totally AWESOME!!! It is a gigantic art gallery that has 2 orgional Da Vinci (I have now seen 3 of the 10 known Da Vincis for sure--that should become another goal). The place is huge. We went on a 2 hour guided tour and only saw about 1/3 or less of the paintings and other stuff. I can't wait to go back on my own.

Afterwards, four of us went out to dinner at an Italian/Russian restraunt that was pricy but really good. We then stopped by a bakery and I got a "billinare" which is basically a jam filled doughnut with powered sugar on it. YUMMY! We took the metro back, which was kinda confusing, but we made it in one poiece. We go to Peterhof on Saturday.

I have been taking Russian for 4 days now. I knda of know the alphabet and how to say it, but I'm learning print and cursive at the same time so it is kinda confusing. Wait, its really confusing, but slowing getting the hang of it now. The words I know, I know well (of and by the way they use the word "bill" for the check here).

See ya around the globe!

Sunday, August 31, 2008


We arrived in London on the 28th and then the 4 of us that we picked up at the airport together (Kori, Josh, and Chris) went exploring in South Kensington bough. This is apparently the rich district of London (which houses parliament and all). Then a bunch of us (read 11) went out to dinner and 1 club (which looked the same as what one sees in the movies). The dinner was at Noonans (?) and it was Portuguese. It wasn’t that great. However the next night we went to Khans of Kensington and that was WONDERFUL).

On Friday the 29th, we took a bus tour to all of London and witnessed the changing of the guards. We drove by the Tower Bridge and London Bridge.

Other Places we drove by:

St. Paul’s Cathedral
Fleet St.
Buckingham Palace
Westminster Abby
Duruy Lane
Covent Gardens
Hyde Park
The place where the Queen was born
The US, Canada, and South African consulates
Trafalgar Square
And so much more

Kori and I then did a tour of Buckingham Palace State Rooms (we got to see the dining room and about 6 sitting rooms) it was so cool. However, we couldn’t take any pictures for security reasons. We also walked to Big Ben and Westminster Abby to get better pictures. After the tour we talked back to the hotel via Hyde/Kensington Park and saw Kensington Palace (we couldn’t go in though)

The flight to St. Peter was 3 hours, but otherwise okay.

See ya’ll around the globe!

Travel to NYC

Wed, August 27th

Today was uneventful. I got up early, for some reason, and lounged around until I went to breakfast. Then I lunged around some more. Finally left for the airport around 1pm (which was the only time the shuttle would leave to get me to the airport on time). I got through security, but had fun doing it.

I was chosen for a “Secondary Check, no Alarm” (to quote the security guy). I think it was because I/AIFS bought my ticket so late and/or I checked in so early. Anyway, I had to be patted down and my bags wiped down. Once when she did it, the little indicator light turned red and se had to call the guy in charge over to “fix the machine” as she wiped the backpack again. As you can tell, I got through (no Megan, I am not purloining a WiFi signal as I sit in TSA jail).

Then I went shopping and spent $15.74 on lunch. It was a Panini, box-o-fruit, and a bottle of H2O. It was filling and I guess spending under $20 for lunch for one day is great! Now I get to laze around to airport and wait (w/o internet, thankyouverymuchMr.mean BritishArwaysguy). Only 5 hours until my flight leaves!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In NYC!!!

So I'm currently in NYC ...well I'm really in a Fairfield in In Jamicia, but oh well...NYC it is! Today's adventure, boys and girls, began at 4 AM CT. OH what fun! It then involved a 45 minute drive to the airport and flights from 6:35 AM CT until 4:20 pm ET. However, I got to wait over an hour for my bags to reach me past security. :) I then got to walk to NYC AirTrain and take it to the Hotel Shuttle area, where I waited for 10 min or so (really quite good I suppose).

The hotel staff was really nice. Dinner was passable, good but not great.

However, the fun the hour tai cab ride I took to CVS to get something I needed but forgot! It cost $60!!! Which is more than they quoted me on the phone, so the poor cabbie got stiffed on his tip. I got to ride through areas that I'm not sure as a single white female I would have been safe (read projects with bars on the windows and a "Truck club" with snazzy SUV outside of it and gangbanger beside them), but it was okay to view it from the car.

Off now to enjoy my $208 bedroom, which is extremly small by the way...

See you around!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting Ready...

So, I started packing today...It was an adventure. I hope I'll have enough room for my stuff. I still don't know if I'm bringing the right amount, but I won't really know what I need until I get there.

I also got my "Departure Packet" from AIFS. It had my passport (with Visa), tickets, and a itenerary. I'll post later about more contact info. This is basically getting to try out the new blogger identity.

See you around the globe...