St. Petersburg Day Four

March 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm (Uncategorized)

The next morning we woke up and talked about how nice Dima was, and we all agreed that he was the nicest man we had ever met.  This led to the thought that he probably robbed us all blind.  Thankfully, he didn’t.  He came into our room later to give all the girls in our group roses because it was International Women’s Day.  It is traditional for people to give all the women they know presents, but it was really nice of him to think of us also since we had known him for all of a day.  It was officially the first flower a man has ever voluntarily given me (the only one I’ve ever gotten before was from my prom date, where its obligatory to give your date a corsage).  He even gave me two because he saw that my first one was slightly drooping, and he thought I needed a new one, despite my telling him that it was fine.

After that Misha, Dima, and Christina made us all breakfast, and videotaped us.  Misha asked us a million questions that he recorded on his video camera, and then he would randomly want us to throw our hands in the air, and yell “Whoo!”  It was all very weird.

Emily, Erin, and I went to go find the famous statue of Peter the Great, a.k.a the Bronze Horseman, that Pushkin wrote about.  It was not nearly as exciting as we thought it would be.  The statue a ways away from it was more interesting because it was a bust of a Stalin-look-alike with a camel sitting under it.  We could not for the life of us figure out what it was supposed to be.  But, naturally, we all took pictures riding the camel.

God had blessed us with the gift of Pizza Hut close to our hostel, so after we wondered around the park we went there to buy AMERICAN pizzas (as opposed to the Russian version of pizza, which involve way too much cabbage) for the train ride back to Vladimir.  We went inside and were immediately greeted by the cash register, which told us “WE LOVE YOU!!!!!”  No, no–Pizza Hut, we love YOU.  Erin ordered a whole pizza for herself, but Emily and I decided to order one large pizza that we would share with the rest of our group.  We sat down to wait at the “waiting area,” which had a pitcher full of nasty gas water for our enjoyment.  In Russia you have to differentiate between water with or without “gas,” which is the Russian way of saying sparkling water.  When we finally got our pizzas Emily and I realized that our pizza wasn’t big enough for us and Jeff and Courtney.  We decided that we didn’t want to share after all, so we ordered another pizza for them.  The restaurant must have thought we were so bizarre because after we ordered our third pizza, we began to eat our to-go pizzas in the restaurant.  When we finally got our third pizza, we had to sprint back to the hostel because we were running late for our train.

In order to make our train, we had to power walk through the city.  Naturally we were all thinking very violent thoughts toward all the slow-walkers of Saint Petersburg who were strolling leisurely in our way.  Of course it also began to snow violently along the way.  But it turned out all right because we made our train with five minutes to spare.

The train ride was mostly non eventful, but at around 11:30 I was awoken by a member of the militsia (Russian police) smacking me with his folder.  It was extremely frightening because generally when foreigners are confronted by the militsia, it is not for a good reason.  They usually want to find a way to prove we’re here illegally if we don’t bribe them.  So, naturally, I was like oh no, here we go.  I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I heard “purse” and “ticket” a lot so I decided he wanted me to get my ticket out of my purse, but when I looked up again he was walking away.  It turned out that he simply wanted me to put my purse in a safer place so it wouldn’t be stolen.  It was very nice of him, but I wish he hadn’t hit me repeatedly.

We got into Vladimir at 5 am.  We stood around waiting for a bus until 5:45.  It was cold.  I went home and slept until 7:30 when I had to get up and go to school.  It was a hell of a day, but it was totally worth it.  I absolutely loved Saint Petersburg, but I wish I could have spoken more Russian there because, like Moscow, they speak too much English.  Many people actually assumed I was French and started speaking French to me.  St. Petersburg was also super European, and not remotely Russian.  I am very glad I am studying in Vladimir for the semester because I am getting a real Russian experience.

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