Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Russia Sized Post

I've been absolute crap about writing here. Here's a giant update about what life's been like in Petersburg.

Let's see, well, I went to the Hermitage on Thursday. Along with about half of Russia and a good quarter of Europe. It was absolutely mobbed. I think I may have heard every language that has existed on Earth. It was Russia Day so I think of ton of people had off of work, and decided to head to the museum. Despite the massive size of the Hermitage, I had to do a lot of pushing and shoving to see the exhibits that I wanted to see. I love the art that's there, but I'm such a sucker for the building itself. I spend a good part of my time there looking at the walls and ceilings, and completely missing the art. The Hermitage is housed in the Winter Palace-aka the former home of the tsars of Russia. My true Russian geek self comes out and I get all giddy thinking about all of the famous people that have walked those halls. When I walk down the massive hallways, I can't help thinking, "Wow, Nicholas Romanov walked here. His children ran down these hallways."

On Friday I went with two of my classmates to Peter & Paul Fortress. The day was absolutely beautiful (a real treat this week), and we got to take beautiful pictures of the city from the beach at the fort. I finally got to see the exhibit that houses the remains of Nicholas II and his family, the last ruling family of Russia. It was closed the last time I was in Russia, and I was so upset at having missed it. Luckily, the room was open this visit, and I got to see the marble stones to each family member and the icon for their status as martyrs.

After the fortress, we ate lunch at a Georgian restaurant. It was amazing. Some of the best food I've had here. I ordered chicken tabaka, which took nearly an hour to prepare, but it was absolutely delicious. It was in some kind of garlic oil sauce, and was well worth the wait. From there, we wandered around a bit more, and then I headed over to the dorms which house a lot of the Arizona kids because one of the girls was kind enough to let me borrow her shower since I am still lacking hot water at my apartment. The hot shower was divine. After a week of freezing cold showers, the hot shower ranks up there with one of the best experiences of my life.

Yesterday we had a boat tour of the canals of St. Petersburg. Like Venice, St. Petersburg is a series of small islands so canals criss cross the city. To make it a true Russian experience, a few of us bought some booze for the boat ride. I chose to celebrate it with strawberry champagne. In a can. Yeah. It's about as good as you'd imagine any kind of two dollar nonbeer alcoholic related beverage in a can to be.

After the canal tour, a few of us grabbed lunch and wandered around the city. The night ended at a bar so we could watch the Euro Cup. It's always fun screaming and yelling at the television, so it was a good night.

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