Yesterday was our last full day in Russia. We visited a historical site/park called Kolomenskoye. Peter I had a log cabin that was transferred to this site. It also contained a large church and several bell towers. We were lucky enough to be at the park when they performed a very grand bell ringing ceremony. Very cool!
The park was far away from our hotel and involved at least three subway transfers. Coming from someone who gets intimidated by New York subways…hello in my OWN language…trust me when I say Do Not try this unless you have a native speaker with you. We would have gone down the first escalator, looked around, gotten crushed, and then just sat on the floor crying with our hand out for rubles. Because we would never find our way out.
After the long ride, it was good to get out and walk a bit. The park is situated next to a river, name lost to me, so we jogged down some steps to take in the view. Lots of ducks and seagulls, with factories in the distance. But still, it was nice. The weather had finally turned cold and we could smell snow. It didn’t actually snow yesterday, but it did on our way to the airport today, where I sit writing this. And looking at the frighteningly long line that I think we should be in. Sigh…
We never made it to that tower. So we went to the zoo! It’s called Zoopark, which is pronounced ZaPark, which is kinda funny because there is a park near my brother’s house called Szot Park, and THAT is kind of a joke with Jack (stay with me) beCAUSE when he talks to my dad he always says “Szot Park!!” And they laugh. And stuff.
ANYway the zoo wasn’t very crowded and it was getting late so we didn’t have a ton of time. Have you ever seen the San Fancisco zoo? This was like that, but less happy. Joke. SF zoo is depressing.
Jack sent me an email that said “Run, the aliens are attacking!!” And that was it. Hmmm.
I’m in the hotel room now, typing this, and I totally saw this same movie last night. Maybe they only have one? this girl should totally not trust the ghost looking boy because he’s ploha. Bad. Yep I remember…
Okay for food we ate some traditional Russian fish dish “Moscow style” with cheese, salmon, whitefish, potatoes and onions in a skillet. Plus meat dumplings and skolyka soup. I’m sure I spelled that wrong. Then we had tiramisu, hot cocoa (pronounced Kakow) and waddled back to the subway and back to the room. I don’t think we have room for dinner. Everyone thinks I’m in here working out, hahahaaa! Good one!!
Trains are great for sleeping. You rock gently back and forth lulled to sleep by the clackity clack. Seriously I sleep better here than in the hotel sometimes. If you get a 2nd class cabin with 4 bunks and a locking door, you’re golden. Don’t ask about those stains on the “mattress”. Look away. They give you clean sheets though!
When you use the bathroom, the toilet flushes directly onto the tracks. How practical! No messy toilets to clean. If you happen to be a hiker that lives anywhere between St. Petersburg and Moscow, avoid the tracks my friend! Little wads of pink tissue everywhere. Now I understand why they don’t open the bathrooms for a half hour after we start moving. Wouldn’t want the stations to be filled with human waste, now would we?
Last night I Skyped with Jack again. Yayyyy! Let me just say that Skype on this iPad is an amazing thing. Simple, clear, fast. Ahhhh. Oh, the conductor just said we have an hour til Moscow, and I partially understood him! I totally heard the words “good morning” and “Moscow” clear as day. But the rest…eh… So where was I? Skype, ya. I swooped the iPad around the hotel room and Jack got to see the bed, TV and out our window to the street. It’s a nice view. Was. We aren’t going back anytime soon.
Jack: 3 more days until you’re home!
Me: Yep! I have so many presents for you!
Jack: (clapping) What time are you home on Friday?
Me: Around 2:30pm…
Dennis: Ha, you won’t be home until 7pm!
Me: Yeah, traffic…
Jack: Then you better start driving now!!
I’m eating some sort of snack from a bag that we loosely call chocolate donuts. They taste like stale devil dogs, but in a good way.
Last night we massacred the Night Train song again by inserting all of the Russian phrases we know. We didn’t even have vodka. Just loopy from lack of sleep. It was 2a.m. and we were going strong. Here’s a snippet…sing it loud people.
I’m on a night train!
Catoree Chass! (what time is it)
I’m on a night train!
Skolka Stoit! (how much is it)
I’m on a night train!
I’m on a night train!
PaashLEE (let’s go)
I’m on a night train!
Ya hatchoo (I want)
I’m on a night train!
Die manYA (give it to me)
I’m on a night train!
Never to returrrrrnnnnnn!
During our serenade the conductor came by for tickets and John’s friend says electronica something something and he says okay and moves on. Then we were all “if you weren’t here, we’d try to say e-ticket and he’d slap the cuffs on us and take us to jail”!! We love Russian police stories the best. Even though they’ve been very helpful and didn’t once stop us on the street for some phony infraction expecting a bribe, like all the guidebooks say.
More later, plus photos. We’re now off to the tallest tower in Europe… Ostankino tower! Paka, bye!
Some things became apparent when we arrived in St. Petersburg yesterday. Though Moscow is a very big bustling city, and everyone is dressed very stylishly (enough to make me feel like a slob even though I tried to look okay), and the cafes are nice, and it feels like NYC… well, St. Petersburg just feels … younger somehow. There is as much history here, but everything has a more upscale feel. St. Petersburg has cafes, but they are every 10 steps or so. We’ve eaten so much in the day and a half that we’ve been here, that it feels gluttonous. My brother and I lost serious weight in the last week in Moscow, and it’s not because they don’t eat. They do! We did! I’m not sure what it is exactly. We walked a lot more, ate less frequently, took in more sights and therefore had our days crammed with history and tours. Maybe that’s it.
In St. Petersburg, it feels a bit like Moscow on steroids. Everything is just a bit shinier, bigger and more plentiful. It’s sort of more metrosexual and there are iPads EVERYwhere.
We’ve eaten in 3 restaurants so far, and each time we’ve claimed that THIS place is our favorite. From yesterday’s meal at the Indian style restaurant, which I LOVEd by the way, to the early afternoon lunch we had today at a cafe called ZOOM…which was delicious, even though they were confused with our Russian/English crap talk and insisted that pasta carbonara was indeed the pasta with chicken, le sigh, all the way to our dinner tonight at a sushi restaurant, which by the way had the BEST waiter on the planet…we tipped that boy well, damn, we are eating well! Even the lights are brighter here.
We took our boat cruise last night (see blurry photo at top!)…everyone fell asleep but moi, because I was hopped up on a month’s worth of caffeine. We saw the seven famous draw bridges and had cheesy saxophone music played for us while we sipped beer and couldn’t possibly order food beccause a) it was 1:30 a.m. b) we had just eaten the equivalent of 2 full meals each for dinner, and c) we realized we were out of cash. And not just rubles. American cash. Well not completely out. But at that “omg we’re going to be stuck here forever because we won’t have enough money to pay the cab driver to the airport” kind of panic. So we found the “bankomat” or “ATM” and figured out how to rack up serious fees in America. Can’t wait to come home to those statements! Actually I heard it’s not that bad. But we’ll see.
We took a bus tour around the city today and I really enjoyed it! The pre-recorded tape had lots of interesting tidbits about the city. Did you know that St. Petersburg has on average only 35 sunny days per year? Me either! It’s been cloudy both days so far. Kinda makes sense now. And Russians don’t wear sunglasses when it’s “off season”. So in Moscow, even when the sun is blinding, no one wears them. Hmmm…
I’m going to post only one or two photos, but please go back and visit my earlier posts because I photo’ed those biotches up! It’s about (yikes!) 1:13 a.m. here. I had NO caffeine today people, but it’s working its way out of my system. Tomorrow we visit the Hermitage museum. We were in the square today, and the museum was right in front of us, and how stupid are we…we don’t realize it, so we’re like “yeah, tomorrow we’ll have to figure out how to get to the Hermitage museum…it’s totally on the other side of the city I bet. We’ll have to take the subway…Heyyy what’s this cool green building here? Let’s get some pictures…” Duhhh!
I was able to talk to Jack at 12 a.m. Yayy! He seemed a lot happier and so did I. Only 4 more days until I get home.
Jack: Hi Mom, I went up to “great day” today.
me: Wow! That’s great! I’m proud of you. What have you been doing?
Jack: Dad’s on a call and hold on I have to get the cereal box. (he runs to the kitchen and comes back munching)
me: (straining to see through the skype window) Uh Jack? I think that’s the cereal that I was throwing out to the birds. It’s stale.
Jack: Eh, it’s okay. (munch munch)
me: Have you been taking good care of the kitties? Food, water and litter I mean?
Jack: Uhh…I’m not so sure about the water.
me: Hmmm, maybe go change it after we hang up.
Jack: Eh, it’s fine.
me: What do you want to do when I come home?
Jack: Go to the movies!!!
me: That’s a good plan!
Jack: And we can sleep in the hallway with sleeping bags.
Yesterday we visited the Armory museum in Moscow, in the Kremlin, which houses some amazing collections of armor and costumes, jewelry, carriages and tons of gold and silver from the 16th and 17th century. We weren’t allowed to take many photos, well none actually, but I stole a few hee hee.
Security was tripled and they really don’t give Americans a hard time here. We’ve been very lucky. Everyone is helpful and tries to speak English even if they have no business doing so.
We saw our first car accident last night walking back to the metro from dinner. Screech! Bang … right into a light pole. The Russian got out and yelled at the pole! LOL!
Whenever we walk we have to watch our step because there are steps up and down where you wouldn’t expect them like between doorways and in the middle of the sidewalk. We keep saying UGH!!! And then we go cartwheeling down the street for awhile.
I’ll have to post photos when I get back because I’m having a hard time juggling the charging schedule with our electronics.
Last night we took a night train (I’ll wait while you sing Guns n Roses…go ahead…) from Moscow to St. Petersburg. I slept like a baby for about nine hours. Got up around 11am. ahhhh. Right now were in the hotel in the center of town and Despicable Me is on in russian. Cookie Robots is a difficult phrase to translate apparently. So we will take a boat tour on the river Neva. Cool! Haraschol!! And now we will take a quick tour by foot. I’m even speaking English like a foreigner, no?
I did get to skype with Jack for a few minutes at 7:30 his time. he is very excited for Russian presents and we got him some bad ass stuff! Swears also don’t translate well so we just yell DOG, Sabaka, a lot. Sighhhh. Shitsky.
When translated literally it’s a bit embarassing: Cat, Small, Potato and those little nestled dolls they make over here. But in Russian…well now, you’ve got some mouth work to do! We saw a sign for Kroshka Kartoshka, which are small potatoes…(Roll your R’s people…RRRRRR) and then we found a few other words that rhymed. We sort of all sang it as we walked around Red Square and Lenin’s tomb and all that.
We literally walked from 10 in the morning, until 11 at night. Small breaks for lunch (“Philadelphia roll” wrap, with salmon, cream cheese and lettuce yum!) and dinner (sushi, beer…yummER!) FYI the mother of a wi-fi connection just blew and I lost my entire post. Sigh. My drafts did not save everything I wrote, so I’m recreating. Isn’t life grand?
I skyped with Jack a little while ago and he was a bit sad. I could tell. Though what he said was “Can I hang up now so I can go do something FUN!!??” He’s so depressed, he’s delirious! Can’t you tell?? sigh.
We saw all of the famous Cathedrals and churches, well not all of them because there are hundreds, but all of them that count. Do you want pictures? Repeat after me: Ya hatchu photograph. I think that’s pretty close.
Here’s a good picture of Red Square (the one at the top is St. Basil’s Cathedral):
So today we also saw tons and tons of boots. All shapes and sizes. They were all high-heeled, sparkling clean and each pair was more spectacular than the last. These people realy LOVE their boots. The more Prada the better. I always say.
I’m a bit caffeinated. Just a wee bit. There is nothing decaf in this entire city. So I may be up for another day or two, seeing as it’s 12:50 a.m. and I’m just getting warmed up. Remind me to tell you about the subway incident. Punchline: I got to keep my entire leg. How kind of them! Grrrr… We’ll laugh someday.
Another couple of photos. Takes like an hour to upload each one, so I can’t post all that I had hoped:
Jack: Is it getting dark already??
me: Yep. Shorter days and longer nights…
Jack: I used to LOVE when it was still light out after Tae Kwon Do.
me: Me too.
Jack: (thinking) Well what if we reverse the polarity of the sun and make it daytime all day?
Jack: (waving me away) Yeah yeah, so like it pulls the earth around and the sun shines on us ALL day.
me: When would we sleep?
Jack: Moommmmm, you can sleep in the daylight, just close the curtains. Sheesh. Then we would have flowers all year and it would be beautiful.
me: Nice idea. What about the rest of the world?
Jack: What’s on the other side? Moscow? Is that where you’re going?
me: Yeah, so it would be dark there all the time?
Jack: And cold. It would always be night…nothing would grow, then they might starve…
me: Hmmm, I don’t know.
Jack: That is a very cruel thought.
me: It’s YOUR thought not mine.
Jack: But what time is it there?
me: It’s 8 hours ahead, so it would be nighttime there now.
Jack: Eh, then they’re used to the dark and the cold. I won’t worry about it.