Thursday, April 14, 2011

Russia - St. Petersburg 01/04/2011

Day 2.

My first Russian breakfast - salad, scrambled eggs. sausages, and little Russian pancake things, sat with Nadja, Merritt and Leonard

1st on the agenda was the Hermitage museum located inside the Winter Palace - Our guide only took us to the most famous pieces in the museum as 'if you look at each piece in the museum for 1 minute then it would take 11 years to see everything' - simply amazing!! I was awestruck by the Winter Palace, it was a bit overwhelming thinking of all the people who had walked the very same corridors at some point in history (including Anastasia Romanov!! - exciting for me...) and couldn't help but try and imagine what it would have been like to live in a place like that. Going through my photos now I didnt realise how many photos of ceilings I had taken! I swear every room I walked into the 1st thing I photographed was the ceiling, I have never seen such detailed decoration on ceilings before, absolutely amazing. On our tour we went into the ballroom, Maygen and I danced together so we can now say that we have danced in the ballroom of the Winter Palace!!

The Winter Palace/Hermitage

Wierd to think who else has walked on this same floor

On the staircase in the entry to the Winter Palace

One of my many ceiling photos

Dancing in the Winter Palace ballroom - PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE!!!

coz everybody just randomly has a door this awesome in their house...

Yet another ceiling photo

My new best friend

Was trying to tell what he was looking at but still have no clue - what a let down

Amazing floor design

Another ceiling/staircase photo :P

Maygen and I attempted to ghost a Russian on the way to the restaraunt for lunch but we were caught early - damn reflection in car windows!!

Lunch: we went to an underground restaraunt place where we had a meal orgasnised for us.

Started with a salad and some bread - salad was extremely salty

Random shot down the table

Poor Kari (guy who organised the whole trip) got this present from the Russians serving us becuase it was April Fools.

Next we had Borsht - kind of soup thing, tasted pretty good :)

Then came this which was kind of like chicken parmajana with a side of potatoes

Then came desert which was similar to lettu (not that you guys have tried lettu but anyway :P lettu = Finnish pancakes)

After lunch we went to Kunstkamera museum which was Peter the Great's hobby. He wanted to prove that deformities like 2 headed animals and conjoined twins were due to scientific reasons not because they were being punished by God. It was kind of disturbing to see as there were babies, severed heads etc in jars in cabinets and skeletons of conjoined twins, Peter the Greats best friends heart, and many more creepy things which we got to look at, gave me a sick feeling in my stomach - it was one of those things were you want to look away but can't, I was thinking about how strange a thing it was for Peter the Great to collect, I mean some people collect stamps... to each their own I guess aha I will admit it was interesting in a twisted kind of way. Apparently when Peter the Great first started the collection he wanted all Russians to come and see it but nobody was interested - then he decided to give a free shot of Vodka to those who came to see it and there were lines for blocks of people trying to go see it aha!

In the evening we went to a folklore performance at Nikolayevsky palace, there is a palace on almost every block it is insane! Anyway, there was a singing group that were really amazing - the acoustics in the room were really good so the powerful notes would vibrate through your skull they were really talented. Then there was the dancing group - Russian dancing is so difficult yet they make it look effortless! I have some pictures

this was one guy  yet he did an entire performance as two people in a headlock fighting, it looked impossible for the things he was doing to be just 1 person but then at the end he stood up showing it was only 1 person - WOW MOMENT!!

Then we got back to the hotel and most people hung out in the lounge until curfew.

Russia - St, Petersburg 31/03/2011

First and foremost I would like to apologize for my lack of posting over the past few weeks, basically I had settled into a rhythm of everyday life and nothing earthshatteringly different from things I had already posted was happening, for me it was very interesting but would just be repetitive to people reading.

But I now have more things to write about =D

Russia Day 1.

On Thursday the 31st of March I got on a bus with 30 odd other exchange students bound for St. Petersburg, Russia. It was amazing to see some of the other Aussies from Karkku (language camp from 1st week in Finland) and also to meet my oldies (exchangies that have been here 6 months longer than me). Had lunch on the Finnish side of the border where we were joined by the other 2 buses of exchange students (97 of us in total not counting ROTEX and Rotary members who were there to supervise us) then we were on our way to St. Petersburg, I was so excited.

Crossing the border went quicker than expected, all the Russians working on the border had the cylinder fur hats and for the first few hours in Russia we all thought that every Russian always wore one of these all the time but those dreams were crushed once we reached St. Petersburg.

First Impressions: I have never been in a city anything like St. Petersburg. The arcitecture is amazing, so different from anything in Australia I swear I took 50 or more photos of buildings as they passed us in the bus ahaha. The drivers in the city are a bit insane, cars pulling out or in where ever they want and there was no markings on the road so personally I was confused as to who was supposed to be driving where, I had to force myself to switch off what I call my 'driving brain' and just trusted that the bus driver knew what he was doing. Haven't been anywhere that has so many statues, almost every block there was another huge statue dedicated to Catherine the Great or any other respective person who influenced the city in any way.

The hotel was nice in the lobby and dining area, it was strange to see people smoking inside in a public place, my first thought was they were rebelling against 'the man' but then I remembered 'I'm in Russia, they have different rules!' haha Nadja (who lives in Kotka as well) was my room mate for this trip, it was good because although we live in the same town we hadn't had much time to get to know each other, so it was good :)