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…