Friday, October 22

Зимние неба... Winter Skies...

Sorry for yet again having neglected my blog for over a week... I've been a very bad blogger recently. To make up for this, have three lovely pictures of the view from my window, with varying colours of sky.

Apparently I should stop taking quite so many photos out of my window. I haven't taken my camera out of the flat this week, though, so it's all I can offer.

As an update on my previous post, I did go to the comic exhibition. It was good, and free, and featured lots of artists from Scandinavian/European countries, which was interesting. It was actually in the museum of Anna Akhmatova, a famous female Soviet poet. The museum also contained the actual apartment she lived in, which we also visited. I liked how they'd set up the museum, it was a bit more contemporary than the Hermitage, and it was interesting to see an (somewhat) untouched Soviet apartment. We followed up our museum visit with a quick trip to Testo Mesto, an awesome chain of pie shops in St Petersburg. They sell lots of different sweet & savoury pies and you get unlimited juice, and it's rather cheap. I've been there three times already, as their pies are delicious :D

Friday saw the first snow of Winter in Petersburg! It was quite exciting at first because I hardly ever get to see snow in England. It got a little annoying after a while, though, when it's blowing horizontally at your face... And it didn't settle at all. We had a little more snow on Saturday morning, but since then it hasn't snowed until today (Friday). The snow today was heavier and the ground was a lot drier, but it only seems to have settled on the buildings and cars. Guess I'll still have to wait for the blanket of snow I envisaged Petersburg being covered with...

On Saturday my friends George and Seb had a flat party. It wasn't too crazy or anything, but it was nice and fun and their neighbours didn't seem to mind, which is always good. It was a pleasant evening, and I didn't drink too much like I did at the other party I went to before... On Sunday I went to the gig I mentioned in my last post, to see This Will Destroy You. The club the gig was in was really cool, my kind of place in terms of decor and clientele. The support band were Russian, and they were really cool. The main band who I've wanted to see for ages lived up to expectations, and I really enjoyed myself. It was quite hard to see the band, though, as the stage was very small! Next time I'll have to get there earlier to stand nearer the front. Something that was also cool was that the band hung around after the gig. I know they aren't really that famous, but it was really nice to have a little chat with them (I was too nervous to say any more) and to get my gig ticket signed. They're coming back to St Petersburg in the Spring, so I'll probably go and see them again then :)

This Will Destroy You. Not my picture, but I thought I'd break up the waffle with it :P

Monday saw yet another visit to Mega, the huge out-of-town shopping mall, for me and Pippa. I managed to get some amazing bargains in the sales and in Ашан (Auchan - supermarket mentioned in previous post)... I got a nice coat I'd actually tried on and was tempted to buy in England for half the price here at a reasonable £14 in New Look... I also got a pair of lovely brown brogue-style shoes there for a tenner. In Ашан (Auchan) I managed to find a lovely pink flowery pair of wellies for a mere £5! Great for the wet/snowy Winter ahead!

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were good in terms of school... Some schoolkids have come over from England to study Russian at the other Benedict School location, so some of our lecturers had to adjust their timetables with us. This meant I started at 12pm three days in a row! Three lie-ins! Ace. 

As for Thursday, well I left the flat at 11am and didn't return home until 6pm on Friday (today)... We (me, Pippa and George) decided to go for a drink in Дача (Datcha), our favourite watering hole, after school. After 'a drink' turned into 'a few', we decided to leave to find our friend Seb, who was in another bar. As we were getting up to leave, three Russian guys who had been sitting next to us for a while stopped us and started speaking to us in English. They seemed pretty cool so we decided to stay and chat with them for a bit. They were getting increasingly drunk and exponentially funnier, so when we left to meet Seb for the second time, we took them with us. We spent a long time trying to find the bar Seb was in, and eventually gave up. One of the Russian guys kept going on about doing his washing, and we were really confused and just assumed he was drunk and crazy, but it turned out he was taking us to a bar which is also a laundrette. It was super cool, really nice decor and you could do your washing whilst you have a drink! I intend to go back some other time... We stayed for a while and chatted to a large group of Finnish students here on holiday, before leaving and finding Seb outside. He suggested we go back to Дача/Datcha, so we did. En route, me and Pippa ran into two Russian girls and a guy, who stopped us and started speaking English to us! For some reason all Russian people wanted to be our friends last night... They thought we were cool and asked if we liked vodka, to which we replied "DA!", and they then produced a bottle from a bag. We drank the whole thing with them on the street within a matter of minutes, and went to Дача/Datcha as planned, with our two new groups of Russian friends. The night wound down a bit after that, and we went to George & Seb's flat to sleep (me and Pippa didn't fancy our chances walking home alone so late). This morning we had a very tasty breakfast of crisp sandwiches, accompanied by watching Jeremy Kyle online. All in all a good way to get over the night before! We went to SPB bar after our non-skiving fellow students had finished school, but I didn't drink any alcohol... And so was my 36-ish hour adventure, with a few new Russian friends made :D

Sorry for the length of this post! I promise I'll start updating more regularly, with shorter posts...

Naomi :)

Wednesday, October 13

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...

...But I do apologise for my absence from blogging. There's no excuse other than the fact I am a very lazy person, haha. Because of this great absence, I have absolutely loads to write about, so I apologise in advance for the length of this post, which will inevitably be huge.

I can't really remember as far back as my last post, so I'm not even sure of everything I need to update about! Therefore I will just stick to the major events rather than describing everything I've done in great detail.

The first major event was the birthday of my flatmate Mike, who turned 21 on October 5th. We celebrated the occasion by going out to our usual haunts, including the new bar we discovered, Barbara. Here they do a lovely alcoholic Slush Puppie-style drink called a Barbarita, which tastes of tropical fruits and is nice and cold and refreshing. This drink is only 50 Rubles, around £1, which also helps... Everyone had a lovely night, and a particular highlight was dancing to the YMCA with some Russian strangers. Mike got suitably drunk considering it was his 21st, so I think we succeeded on that part. Since I've had complaints (not naming any names) about the lack of photos on my blog, here is a picture of me from the night:

In the above photo (taken by my lovely flatmate Maddy), I am holding the aforementioned Barbarita drink.

Another main event from the past few weeks was my visit to Kunstkamera with Pippa. Kunstkamera was the first museum to be built in Petersburg, under orders from Peter I himself. It's supposed to be a museum of anthropology and ethnography, but a lot of people seem to go just to visit the 'Academy of Sciences' room. This room sticks out like a sore thumb within the museum, and I don't really understand why it is here, but basically it just has hundreds of dead babies in jars. Most of them display different genetic mutations found in babies, and I'm not a squeamish person, but it seemed a little excessive having so many of them. It was a truly strange experience. The rest of the museum was pleasant, and contained lots of interesting objects from Peter I's travels around the world, such as costumes, tools and art. The museum was free to get in with our student cards, so I'll probably visit again before I go home, though perhaps I don't need to visit the strange science room next time.

Another exciting development (for me, anyway), is that we discovered a HUGE hypermarket about 10 minutes walk from the flat. It's called Ашан, which is the Russian way of saying Auchan, the name of a large French chain of hypermarkets. You may recognise the name, or the logo below... It feels like being in France when you're walking around, as they sell pretty much everything there and it's all very nice and cheap. I also managed to buy Russian Scrabble there for around £4! Though playing Scrabble in Russian is much harder than I expected, so we play with a dictionary to help us. I'm hoping this will improve my Russian spelling and also my vocabulary. Ашан is basically my new favourite place in the whole of Russia. Ha. And they sell Wagon Wheels!
On Friday, some friends of mine had a flatwarming party, as, like many other people, they had decided to move out of their homestay accommodation. It was a great party, and everyone got rather merry, including myself. I didn't drink that much alcohol, and didn't even feel that drunk on the night itself, though I had one awful hangover on Saturday. It was reminiscent of the hellish hangover I had last year in Russia, and has led me to the conclusion that Russian alcohol messes me up. I'll try not to drink that much again in the future, especially if I don't fancy feeling like death the next day...

In other news, we watched a really good film in my 'kino' (cinema) class last week. It's called Стиляги (Stilyagi) and is about a rock and roll style subculture in 1950s Russia. It's basically a cheesy musical with amazing songs and costumes and I loved it. So if you love the 50s and/or Russian musicals, I highly recommend it.

The only other thing I can think to mention is the fact I've dyed my hair a very bright shade of red. It's a little too bright, if I'm honest, but I'm planning to keep it for the near future at least, as everyone seems to approve. Here's a picture to show how it now looks:

I'll end this post with a little update about my plans for the next few days, just in case I don't post on here again for ages! Tomorrow I'm supposed to be going to an exhibition of comic book art at a gallery, with one of my classmates and a Russian girl I met at the party on Friday. I'm quite excited, as I haven't been to any small galleries in Petersburg yet, so it should be interesting! And who doesn't love comics? I also think my new hair will fit in nicely. I have also bought a ticket to a gig on Sunday, which will be my first experience of live music in Russia! Exciting! Though I expect nobody reading this has heard of the band, they are called This Will Destroy You. They're an American post-rock band. They are ruddy good, and I've never seen them live before, so that makes it even more exciting! Hopefully my first Russian gig experience won't be too scary...

Anyway, time to go and finish tidying my messy bedroom! Lots of love, Naomi :)

PS. I've now made it possible to leave comments on my blog without needing an account! Hopefully this means more people will comment? Let's see...

Friday, October 1

Спасибо вам большое!

Nothing new to report, just a post to say thanks very much to my relatives (and common law relatives!) for my birthday cards :D The package arrived intact today, around 2 weeks after Dad sent them, which isn't too bad for Russian post, apparently. So, thanks everyone for the belated birthday wishes :) x